For more than 30 years the Shortwave radio spectrum has been used by the worlds intelligence agencies to transmit secret messages. These messages are transmitted by hundreds of Numbers Stations.
Shortwave Numbers Stations are a perfect method of anonymous, one way communication. Spies located anywhere in the world can be communicated to by their masters via small, locally available, and unmodified Shortwave receivers. The encryption system used by Numbers Stations, known as a one time pad is unbreakable. Combine this with the fact that it is almost impossible to track down the message recipients once they are inserted into the enemy country, it becomes clear just how powerful the Numbers Station system is.
Why is it that in over 30 years, the phenomenon of Numbers Stations has gone almost totally unreported? What are the agencies behind the Numbers Stations, and why are the eastern European stations still on the air? Why does the Czech republic operate a Numbers Station 24 hours a day? How is it that Numbers Stations are allowed to interfere with essential radio services like air traffic control and shipping without having to answer to anybody? Why does the Swedish Rhapsody Numbers Station use a small girls voice?
I've been editing The Nudge, a podcast about being better designers, for the Hookturn podcast label. Today marks the release of Episode 18, featuring the comedian Wil Anderson. I think it's a cracker of an episode, and I recommend you check it out. I've linked below to a couple of other Nudges that I think are well worth your time.
Working as a musician in the games industry is not all wine and roses, though. Alanko stresses that it requires intense discipline and a lot of patience, because many things change during the game development process, including the music. And sometimes schedules are every bit as hectic as in pop music.
“I’ve never run into a complete catastrophe, but sometimes the faster moves the marketing department pulls off can result in very sudden audio needs, so you don’t always have the luxury of working on something for weeks on end. Sometimes they need it fast and your calendar’s full as it is,” Alanko ruminates.
Alanko's score for Alan Wake is magnificent.
Something between a black MIDI glissando and a brown note, the THX "Deep Note" is one of the world's most recognizable audio logos, signaling the highest quality audio standard in films. Parodied by The Simpsons and sampled by Dr. Dre (which got him sued), at peak popularity the THX Deep Note was played in front of 4,000 movie theater audiences a day, or around once every 20 seconds. Yet despite its distinctive crescendo, the THX Deep Note wasn't actually composed so much as it was programmed, which makes it a fascinating success story of early computer audio design.
Mathematicians and scientists seldom rest easy when the numbers are not right. The search for understanding is never far from mind. In many ways, this is why mathematics is so much fun. Similarly, conductors and musicians, who immediately recognise wrong notes, are perplexed by Beethoven’s metronome markings. Some of his tempo markings, even on many of his most popular classics, have been considered so fast as to be impossible to play. What is the problem? Why?
Kills me, every time.
A brilliant score.
I listened to Daft Punk's new album (Random Access Memories) today, and it brought back the memory of watching Scarface for the first time. Such a great soundtrack.