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, but 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. This is because most older and cheaper radio receivers do not have digital frequency readout.
- 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. Interval signals were not required on commercial channels in the USA, where jingles were used as identification.
Broadcasting services and interval signals
- BBC World Service: Bow Bells (English programme), Lillibullero (signature tune), three even notes tuned B-B-C (non-English, non-Europe) and four notes tuned B-B-B-E (non-English, to Europe).
- 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 News Radio: Bell version of 三大纪律八项注意 ("Three Rules of Discipline and Eight Points for Attention").
- Deutsche Welle: Fidelio by Ludwig van Beethoven, played on piano.
- Radio Australia: Chorus of Waltzing Matilda, played on chimes.
- Radio Belarus: Radzima maja darahaja ("My dear Motherland").
- Radio Canada International: First four notes of O Canada, played on 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.
- Radio Republik Indonesia: Rayuan Pulau Kelapa, composed by Ismail Marzuki.
- RTÉ Radio 1: Chime version of O'Donnell Abú ("O'Donnell Forever").
- Radio Serbia: National anthem "Bože pravde".
- Radio Slovenia: Electronically generated cuckoo chirping.
- Radio Sweden: Chime version of Ut i vida världen ("Out in the Wide World"), composed by Ralph Lundsten.
- Radio Ukraine International: Reve ta stohne Dnipr shyrokyi.
- Vatican Radio: Chimes version of Christus Vincit.
- Voice of America: Brass band version of Yankee Doodle.
- Voice of Korea: Melody of the 김일성장군의 노래 ("Song of General Kim Il-sung").
- Radio Austria International: "An der schönen blauen Donau" ("Blue Danube Waltz") by Johann Strauss (orchestral version).
- Radio Berlin International: Beginning of Auferstanden aus Ruinen, played on chimes.
- Radio France Internationale: Popular song "Nous n'irons plus au bois", played by trumpet.
- Radio Peking (predecessor of China Radio International): 东方红 ("The East Is Red"), played on chimes.
- Radio Moscow (former international service of the Soviet Union): Песня о Родине ("Wide Is My Motherland") and Moscow Nights, played on vibraphone or Midnight in Moscow, played by balalaika.
- Radio Norway International (former international service of NRK): Ancient folk tune from the Hallingdal region.
- Radio RSA (former international service of Apartheid-era South African Broadcasting Corporation): Bokmakierie chirping and first bars of "Ver in die Wereld, Kittie", played on guitar.
- Radio Sweden: Opening notes of Carl Michael Bellman's "Storm och böljor tystna r'en".
- Radio Tirana: Melody of With Pickaxe and Rifle, played by two trumpets.
- Radio Polonia: Etude No. 12 ("Revolutionary Etude") by Frédéric Chopin, played on piano.
- Radio Prague: Melody of Kupředu levá ("Forward, Left"), played on trumpet; Adagio – Allegro molto from symphony No. 9 by Dvořák.
- Radio Yugoslavia, later International Radio of Serbia and Montenegro: Jugoslavijo.
- Rai International: Mechanically generated canary chirping.
- Deutschlandfunk: Dir, Land voll Lieb' und Leben excerpt from Ich hab mich ergeben by Hans Ferdinand Maßmann, played on celesta.
- Voice of Russia: "Majestic" chorus from the "Great Gate of Kiev" portion of Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky.
- Voice of Turkey: Makam, played on piano.
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