Morse code sounds are all around us. Two examples come to mind -- birds chirping at sunset and the honking of automobile horns. During World War II, to conserve gas and tires, the national speed limit was set at 35 mph. When a speeding motorist passed you on the highway, it was national policy to alert the offending driver via your automobile horn with a didi_di_dah – the letter “V for the sound of victory.” It is interesting to note that the Morse code sound for the letter “V” is also the opening phrase of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony -- didi_di_dah.
David Edward Hughes (1831-1900), was, in 1878, one of the first to transmit and receive Morse code using radio waves. In addition to being an experimental physicist, mostly in the areas of electricity and signals, Hughes was also an accomplished musician and a professor of music. Morse code and music have a
history of working in concert. The sounds of Morse code in music range from classical to country. Johnny Cash, the now deceased entertainer, was a member of the US Air Force during the Cold War. Cash spent three years in Germany copying Russian Morse code transmissions and had this to say. "That rhythm of the Morse code had a lot to do with the rhythm I felt in my music and I realized that its got a rhythm that just begs to have a drum added to it, or a guitar. After I got out of the Air Force, I could still hear it, and when I started writing songs again, I had that rhythm in my head.”
To test the rhythm in your head for Morse code, read on.
You may have heard comments on how challenging Morse code is to learn. Nothing could be further from the truth. These instructions are designed to provide sufficient information for the student to master basic Morse code on his/her own with little or no oversight by an instructor. Unbelievably, there are only four-sounds students must commit to memory: They are:
di – has a short vowel sound as in the word di-lem-ma..
didi – sounded as ditty; a double didi_didi is sounded as ditty-ditty
dit – no other sound follows a dit for that character or letter.
da – is used within characters or letters. While dah is sounded the same as da, dah is used to indicate the ending of a character or letter.
Success in learning Morse code is a matter of syllabification.
A dictionary separates words into syllables as a way of segmenting the stream of speech. Syllabification gives words a rhythm of strong and weak beats, as we hear in music. Syllables make speech easier for the brain to process. Likewise, the brain can more easily process and recognize the sounds of Morse code when characters or letters are separated into sound elements in the same manner as words are in syllabification. For example, the letter F normally sent as -- dididadit – has a three-element syllabification sound -- didi_da_dit. The underscore indicates that the elements within each letter or character are sent as a unit in the same manner that polysyllable words are spoken as one word.