An interval signal, or tuning signal, is a characteristic sound or musical phrase used in international broadcasting and by some domestic broadcasters. Played before commencement or during breaks in transmission, or (most commonly) between programmes in different languages it serves several purposes:
- It assists a listener to tune his or her radio to the correct frequency for the station.
- It informs other stations that the frequency is in use.
- It serves as a station identifier even if the language used in the subsequent broadcast is not one the listener understands.
The practice began in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s and was carried over into shortwave broadcasts. The use of interval signals has declined with the advent of digital tuning systems, but has not vanished.
Broadcasting services and interval signals
- BBC World Service in English: Bow Bells.
- BBC World Service in English (occasionally): Lillibullero.
- BBC World Service, non-English, non-Europe: three even notes tuned B-B-C.
- BBC World Service, non-English, to Europe: four notes tuned B-B-B-E.
- China National Radio & China Radio International: chime version of 义勇军进行曲 (Yìyǒngjūn Jìnxíngqǔ, "March of the Volunteers").
- Voice of the Strait: chime version of 三大纪律八项注意 ("Three Rules of Discipline and Eight Points for Attention").
- Deutsche Welle: Beethoven's Fidelio, played on piano.
- Radio Australia: chorus of Waltzing Matilda on chimes.
- Radio Belarus: Radzima maja darahaja ("My dear Motherland")
- Radio Canada International: first four notes of O Canada, played on a piano.
- Radio France Internationale: electronic-disco, culminating in the last 8 measures of La Marseillaise.
- Radio Japan: "Kazoe-uta" (Japanese counting song), さくら さくら (Sakura Sakura, "Cherry Blossoms").
- KBS World Radio: "Dawn"
- Radio Habana Cuba: melody of the La Marcha del 26 de Julio ("March of the 26th of July").
- Radio Netherlands: chime version of the Eighty Years' War song Merck toch hoe sterck.
- Radio New Zealand International: the call of a New Zealand Bellbird, repeated every 3 minutes.
- Radio Republik Indonesia: Rayuan Pulau Kelapa, composed by Ismail Marzuki.
- RTÉ Radio 1: O'Donnell Abú ("O'Donnell Forever").
- Radio Serbia: based on the national anthem "Bože pravde".
- Radio Slovenia: Cuckoo chirping, electronically generated.
- Radio Sweden: Ut i vida världen ("Out in the Wide World"), composed by Ralph Lundsten.
- Radio Tirana: Këputa një gjethe dafine (signature tune)
- Radio Ukraine International: Reve ta stohne Dnipr shyrokyi.
- Vatican Radio: chimes version of Christus Vincit.
- Voice of America: Yankee Doodle played by a brass band.
- Voice of Korea: melody of the 김일성장군의 노래 (Kim Ilsŏng Changgunŭi Norae, "Song of General Kim Il-sung").
- Voice of Russia: chime version of "Majestic" chorus from the "Great Gate of Kiev" portion of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.
- Voice of Turkey: Makam, played on piano
- Radio Austria International: "An der schönen blauen Donau" ("Blue Danube Waltz") by J. Strauss.
- Radio Berlin International: chimes version of Auferstanden aus Ruinen.
- Radio France International: Popular song "Nous n'irons plus au bois".
- Radio Peking (predecessor of China Radio International): chime version of 东方红 (Dōngfāng Hóng, "The East Is Red").
- Radio Moscow (former service of the Soviet Union): chimes version of Песня о Родине ("Wide Is My Motherland") and Moscow Nights or Midnight in Moscow.
- Radio Norway International (former international shortwave service of NRK): ancient folk tune from the Hallingdal region.
- Radio RSA (former service of Apartheid-era South African Broadcasting Corporation): Bokmakierie chirping and guitar playing first bars of "Ver in die Wereld, Kittie".
- Radio Sweden International: Opening notes from Carl Michael Bellman's "Storm och böljor tystna r'en".
- Radio Tirana: melody of With Pickaxe and Rifle.
- Radio Polonia: Etude for Piano No. 12 ("Revolutionary Etude") by Frédéric Chopin.
- Radio Prague: melody of Kupředu levá ("Forward, Left"); Dvořák's symphony No. 9, Adagio – Allegro molto.
- Radio Yugoslavia, later International Radio of Serbia and Montenegro: Jugoslavijo.
- RAI International: bird chirping.
Numbers stations interval signals
- BBC World Service (Europe) interval signal Retrieved 2013-10-09.
- Radio Sweden interval signal Retrieved 2011-11-24.
- Frost, J. M. World Radio TV Handbook. New York: Billboard Publications, 1983.
- Frost, Jens Mathiesen. World Radio-TV Handbook. London: Billboard Publications, 1974.
- DX LISTENING DIGEST 7-043