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Secret Morse Code messages in music

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Published on Mar 13, 2014

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As we all know, rock and roll is made by Satanists intent on hiding subversive messages in their devil music.

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SCRIPT

As we all know, rock and roll is made by Satanists intent on hiding subversive messages in their devil music. But what if I told you that all musicians are, in fact, colossal nerds, and those messages are all in Morse code?

Morse code was first developed in 1836, the creation of numerous minds beyond just namesake and cool haircut Samuel Morse. It cemented its value as a critical method of radio communication during the second World War, and remained the maritime distress standard until 1999.

SOS -- which to be clear is a meaningless string of letters, not an acronym -- is the most recognizable snippet of the code, which mixes dots an dashes that can easily be understood audibly or visually. Like when Katy Perry uses it to announce a new record from the top of the Capitol Records building.

Since its completion in 1956, the light at the top of LA's iconic Capitol Records building has been blinking out "Hollywood."

But a month before the official announcement of Katy Perry's Prism, it started communicating the album's name and release date instead. No one noticed. And this led Carson Daly to call Katy Perry a "sneaky genius."

The Killers pulled a similar stunt to promote their recent greatest hits collection, using Morse code in a tweet to spell out their upcoming single, "Shot at the Night." Less committed than Katy Perry.

And way less committed than Rush, who rendered an airport code to 5/4 time.

Others artists have sought more subtle Morse integrations in their compositions. Like Muse, who use handclaps in "Starlight," a song about black holes, to supposedly spell out...tits.

That is unconfirmed, but believed whole-heartedly by many fans and included on their wiki. Here's one that was confirmed by the band -- Dream Theatre tapping out "Eat my ass and balls."

Mike Oldfield, who single handily turned Virgin Records into a profitable enterprise with Tubular Bells in 1973, used Morse code to indicate his displeasure with his label in 1990.

Buried 48 minutes into an album of continuous music, "Fuck of RB," directed at Virgin impresario Richard Branson, was a Dream Theatre-caliber use of dots and dashes.

One of the most creative uses of Morse code comes, maybe not surprisingly, from those lovable Germans, Kraftwerk.

More than a curious rhythmic foundation, the Morse code in "Radioactivity" is central to its lyrical themes, playing on the fear of nuclear fallout with the rhythm of a language primarily associated with disaster.

While it's no longer a licensing requirement for pilots, or captain, or anyone, the open secret mystery and natural rhythms of Morse code means we'll probably be hearing it buried in our record collection, telling us to someone's ass and balls, well into the future.

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