Interval signal

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Historical interval signal of the BBC
RAVAG interval signal, clock ticking 270/min (9 in 2 sec)

An interval signal, or tuning signal, is a characteristic sound or musical phrase used in international broadcasting, numbers stations, 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 helps a listener using a radio with an analog tuner to find the correct frequency.
  • 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 practise 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 United States, where jingles were used as identification.

List of interval signals by station[edit]

  •  China:
\relative c' {\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"tubular bells" \key g \major g'4. b8 d4 d e2 d}
Interval signal for China National Radio and China Radio International
{\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"celesta" \key a \major \time 4/4 b'2. cis''4 e''2 e''2 | cis''4. e''8 cis''4 a'4 b'2 s}
Interval signal for Voice of the Strait
\relative c'{\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"electric piano 2"  \once \hide Score.MetronomeMark \tempo 4 = 85 \time 3/4 f2 a4 g2 a4 f2 e4 d2 f4 a2 a4 a2 e4 d2.}
Interval signal for DR P1
{ \once \hide Score.MetronomeMark \tempo 4 = 72 \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"harpsichord" \partial 4
  << \relative c'' { g'4 g4. e8 g f d g a8. g16 g2 \fermata \bar "|."
      } \\ \relative c'' {\partial 4
     r4 << c2 e2 >> <<b2 f2>> << c'2. e2. \fermata >> \bar "|."
  } >> }
Interval signal for Deutsche Welle
\relative c''{\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"flute" c'16 b c4. b8 a f4 f8 b a f e4 e16 f a f e2 s}
Interval signal for All India Radio
  • "Kazoe-uta" (数え歌, counting-out game).
  • "Sakura Sakura" (さくらさくら, cherry blossoms).
\relative c' {\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"celesta" \key a \major \time 2/4 a'8^\markup { Kazoe-uta } a cis a cis4 d8 cis fis fis d d cis4 a8 cis d d cis a gis2}

\relative c' {\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"orchestral harp" \once \hide Score.MetronomeMark \tempo 4 = 120 \key f \major d'4^\markup { Sakura Sakura } d e2 d4 d e2 d4 (e) f (e) d (e8 d) bes2}
Interval signals for Radio Japan
  •  North Korea
\relative c' {\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"celesta" g'4 e' e8. d16 c4 d8. e16 c4 g2}
Interval signal for Voice of Mongolia
\relative c' {\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"flute" e1 a gis8 a b a \times 2/3 {gis a b} d4 e2 a2}
Interval signal for Radio Pakistan
  •  Philippines:
  • Radio Mayak: Vibraphone version of Moscow Nights.
  • Radio Sakha: Excerpt from a Yakut folk song.
  • English programme: "Bow Bells".
  • Non-English programme, non-Europe: "Lillibullero", three notes tuned B–B–C.
  • Non-English programme, to Europe: four notes tuned B–B–B–E.
 \relative c'' { \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f b^\markup { B–B–C } b c }

 \relative c'' { \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f b^\markup { B–B–B–E } b b e }
Interval signals for BBC World Service
  •  United States:
 \relative c' { \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f g'2 e'2 c1 }
Interval signal for NBC
Interval signal for Voice of America
{#(set-global-staff-size 18) \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"celesta" \key f \major <a' a''>2 <a' a''> <c'' c'''> <c'' c'''> <f' f''> <f' f''> <a' a''> <a' a''> <d' d''> <g' g''> <c' c''> <f' f''>4 ~ <bes' bes''> <a' a''>2 ~ <g' g''>4. <f' f''>8 <f' f''>1}
Interval signal for Vatican Radio

Formerly used[edit]

  • Albania Radio Tirana: Këputa një gjethe dafine (transmission intro) and the trumpet version of With Pickaxe and Rifle.
{\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"trombone" \key g \minor \time 2/4 \skip4 \skip8. d''16 d''4 d''8. es''16 d''4 c''8. a'16 bes'2 g'2}
Radio Tirana
{\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"brass section" \key g \minor \time 3/4 bes d' f' <<{<bes d' f'>2.} {\skip2 <d'' f''>4}>> <<{<bes d' f'>2.} {<d'' f''>4 \skip4 <bes' d''>4}>> <<{<bes d' f'>2.} {<bes' d''>4} \skip2>> }
Radio Österreich International
\relative c'{\override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"viola" c g' c}
Interval signal for Ö1
\relative c''{\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"orchestral harp" \once \hide Score.MetronomeMark \tempo 2 = 120 \key g \major b2 d4. d8 g,2. \skip4}
Radio Canada International
{\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"celesta" \key c \major \time 4/4 g'2 g'4 a'4 d'1 c'2 c'4 a4 d'1}
Radio Peking
  • Trumpet version of Kupředu levá ("Forward, Left") by Jan Seidl
{\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"trumpet" a'8 r16 d''16 d''8 r8 e''8 d''4. b'8 r16 d''16 d''8 r8 e''8 d''4.}
Radio Prague
{\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"celesta" \key f \major <c'' f' f>2 bes'4 a'4 g'2 <a' f'> c'' bes'4 a'4 g'2 r2 <a' f' f>1}
Radio Finland (Yle)
{\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"trumpet" \key f \major \time 2/4 \skip8 f'8 a'8 bes'8 c''4 d''4 c''8 bes'8 a'8 c''8 bes'4 a'8( g'8) f'8 \skip8 \skip4}
Radio France Internationale
{\key g \major d''8 e'' fis''4 d'' gis'' fis'' \skip2.}
Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk
{\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"glockenspiel" \key d \minor \time 4/4 f''2 a'4. d''8 c''1 a'2 <a' g'>4. a'8 <d'' a' f'>1}
Reichssender Berlin
  •  East Germany
{\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"electric piano 1" \key f \major \time 2/4 <a' f'>4 <a' f'> <g' c'> <f' bes> <bes' g'> <bes' g'> <a' f'> <g' c'>}
Radio Berlin International
Interval signal for Radio NTS
Interval signal for DFS 904
{\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"celesta" \time 4/4 \skip2. d''4 <b'' g''>4 <b'' g''>4 <d''' b''>4 <b'' g''>4 <fis'' a''>4 r4 <d'' fis''>4 \skip4}
  • Hungary Radio Budapest: Excerpts from the suite 1848 by T.K. Polgar played on three trumpets and two cornets.
{\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"french horn" e''2-- a''8 e''8 d''8. fis''16 e''1-- e''4-_ e''8-. e''8-. a''8 e''8 d''8. fis''16 e''1}
Radio Budapest
{\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"muted trumpet" d' <f' d''>4 <f' d''>4<f' d''>4 <<{a'2} {c''8 d''8 c''8 bes'8}>> <<{a'1} {\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"timpani" \clef bass d,8 a,, d, a,, d,4}>>}
Kol Yisrael
{\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"electric piano 1" \key f \major c'2 f'4. g'8 a'2 bes'4. a'8 g'2 a'4. g'8 f'2 c'4. r8 c''2 c''4. c''8 c''2. r8 f'8 g'4. a'8 bes'4. a'8 g'2 r2}
Trans World Radio
  •  Netherlands
{\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"tubular bells" \key g \major e'4 dis'8 e'8 fis'4 e'8 fis'8 g'4 fis'8 e'8 fis'4 \skip4}
Radio Netherlands
  •  Norway
{\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"xylophone" \time 3/4 \skip2 \skip8 bes'8 bes'16 bes'16 d''16 f''16 es''16 d''16 es''8 ~ es''8 es''8 d''16 bes'8. c''16 as'8. bes'4 ~ bes'2 r8 bes'8 bes'16 bes'16 d''16 f''16 es''4. des''8 ces''8 bes'16 as'16 ges'4. ges'8 as'8 bes'16 des''16 ces''8 bes'4 as'8 ges'16 f'16 ges'16 f'16 es'16 f'16 ges'8 ~ ges'8 as'8 ges'16 f'16 ges'16 f'16 es'16 f'16 ges'8 ~ ges'8 f'8 es'8 des'8 es'2 bes2 \skip4}
Radio Norway International (NRK)
  •  Poland
<<{\key c \minor \skip2 \skip8. <c'' c'''>16[ <d'' d'''>8. <es'' es'''>16] <es'' es'''>2 r8. <g'' es'' c'' g'>16[ <g'' es'' c'' g'>8.\< <g'' es'' c'' g'>16]\! <as'' es'' c'' as'>2\> <g'' es'' c'' g'>2\!} {\key c \minor \clef bass \skip2. es16\> d c g,\! c,\< g, c d es g c' d'\! es'\> d' c' g es d c g,\! c,\< g, c d\! es\> d c g,\! c,2}>>
Radio Polonia
{\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"acoustic guitar (nylon)" \key c \major \time 2/4 g'8 g'16 g'16 g'8 f'8 e'8 g'4. d'8 f'4. e'8 g'4. g'8 g'16 g'16 g'8 f'8 e'8 g'4. d'8 f'8 e'8 d'8 c'4 r}
Radio RSA
{\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"accordion" \key a \major \time 3/8 cis''8. d''16 cis''8 b'8 e'8 cis''8 a'4 r8 e'8. fis'16 e'8 a'8 cis''8 e''8 b'4 r8}
Swiss Radio International
Interval signal of Voice of Turkey as heard in 2013
  • Soviet Union Radio Moscow (former international service of the Soviet Union):
{\key g \major \skip2. d'4. d'8 g'2. fis'4 e'4 fis'4 g'4 a'4 g'2 d'2 \skip2}
Radio Moscow

Classical radio station WQXR-FM in New York City, during its ownership by The New York Times Company, played different variations of a classical infused gong with the ID read at the same time as "The Classical Station of the New York Times, WQXR, New York (And 2000–2009)[citation needed]

Numbers station interval signals[edit]

Numbers stations are often named after their interval signals, such as The Lincolnshire Poacher or Magnetic Fields after "Magnetic Fields Part 1" by Jean-Michel Jarre.


  1. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: stephensen (2009-10-19). "Pausesignal". Retrieved 2020-04-02 – via YouTube.
  2. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: Ο τσομπανάκος σήμα ΕΡΤ). YouTube.
  3. ^ Tuning into broadcast history. The Hindu BusinessLine, 15 October 2015.
  4. ^ "'O'Donnell Abú'". RTÉ.ie.
  5. ^ "Pausenzeichen und ihre musikalischen Quellen". 8 October 2007.
  6. ^ a b c d Frost, Jens Mathiesen (1983). World Radio TV Handbook. New York: Billboard Publications.
  7. ^ Treiber, Alfred (2007). Ö1 gehört gehört : die kommentierte Erfolgsgeschichte eines Radiosenders (in German). Vienna: Böhlau. p. 218. ISBN 978-3-205-77495-2. OCLC 127107294.
  8. ^ "Radion väliaikamerkki". 4 July 2008.
  9. ^ "".
  10. ^ nl:Pauzeteken
  11. ^[bare URL PDF]
  12. ^ Frost, Jens Mathiesen (1974). World Radio-TV Handbook. London: Billboard Publications. ISBN 9780823058983.
  13. ^ "- YouTube".
  14. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: RADIO INTERVAL SIGNALS - "Radio Polonia". YouTube.
  15. ^ "DX Listening Digest 7-043".
  16. ^ Radio Sweden interval signal Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  17. ^ BBC World Service (Europe) interval signal Retrieved 2013-10-09.
  18. ^ "Top deset pjesama o Titu".

Further reading[edit]

  • Sennitt, Andrew G. (1997). World Radio and Television Handbook 1997. Billboard Books. p. 560. ISBN 0-8230-7797-7.
  • Sennitt, Andrew G.; David Bobbitt (December 2005). World Radio and Television Handbook 2006. Billboard Books. p. 608. ISBN 0-8230-7798-5.

External links[edit]