The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Episode 36 – Musical Cryptography

by Audrey Scudder

Mixing Console and LaptopWe are constantly surrounded by music in our everyday lives, and as technology has progressed, it’s become even more prevalent. But what if this music could be used as more than just a form of entertainment? For centuries, authors, composers, and scientists have been experimenting with the possibility of musical cryptography and steganography. In this episode, we explore different methods of encrypting and hiding messages in music, the history of the practice, and how musical cryptography affects how we analyze music from the past and how we could produce music in the future.


“Acoustic Guitar Loop” from

“Radio Noise” from

“Electronic Beat” from

“Variations on an Original Theme ‘Enigma’, Op.36” By Edward Elgar from (Movements 1, 9, 10 used)


Thicknesse, P. (1772). A Treatise on the Art of Decyphering, and of Writing in Cypher with an Harmonic Alphabet. London: W. Brown.
Owano, N. (2016, August 20). Music Tempo Carries Hidden Information. Retrieved from
Estrin, D. (2018, March 15). Elgar’s ‘Enigma’ Still Keeps Music Detectives Busy. Retrieved from
arXiv, E. T. from the. (2016, August 17). Party Algorithm Hides Messages in Ibiza Trance Music. Retrieved from

Wikipedia contributors. (2019, September 19). Dorabella Cipher. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:31, October 30, 2019, from

Image: “Mixing Console and Laptop,” Dejan Krsmanovic, Flickr, CC BY


Episode 35 – The Lorenz Cipher

1 Comment

  1. Henning Wolter

    Dear Derek Bruff,

    Thank you for these very interesting informations!

    Perhaps your are interested in my approaches to musical cryptography?

    1.) I developed a musical crypto challenge for the cipher contest „Mystery Twister“:–part-1–part-2

    2.) I created the online game „UNDERCOVER JOB“ based on different musical ciphers.

    What´s your opinion about my musical ciphers?

    Best regards,

    Henning Wolter (Jazz-Pianist)

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