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Ancient Cryptography » Ancient Texts » Edward Elgar's Dorabella Cipher » Intro to the Cipher

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Aaron

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Intro to the Cipher
« on: September 17, 2004, 11:12:43 PM »
http://www.geocities.com/Vienna/4056/cipher.html has a pretty good main explanation, but the overall progress of solving is a bit slow. My personal guess is that the message contains only music, once interpreted correctly, that would sound really good. There are 24 possible symbols, with two components: angle and the number of arcs. There are 8 different angles and 1-3 arcs in each symbol. I believe the arcs correspond to which octave (relative to middle C) the note would be in, and the angle would be the actual name of the note. It is quite possible that one angle is a dummy only used in one octave, ie a low C that is only used for the first octave or a high C only used for the third octave. The trick is to see which angle was only used for the first or third octave.

scott

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2004, 05:24:30 PM »
I agree with the music. But I would like to know more about the lady who the note was sent to. Did she play the flute? Then maybe the arcs might be which finge to use? I would like to see a larger copy of the note also. My back ground in music is slim at best so I am not even sure haw the notes are produced on a flute. Who else in his life ever got a cryptogram from him? just thinking

pelican

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2004, 09:42:42 PM »
I'm with Scott as far as having slim technical knowledge of music. I've played the bass totally by ear for 35 years. I would definitely be interested to see if Elgar ever sent anyone else a cipher though. That would be an interesting comparison to see whther he might have used the same method of encryption.

Chris

Aaron

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2004, 11:27:17 PM »
I'm not too sure about whether he sent many ciphers to people, though he did certainly make ciphers as a hobby. As for procuring a larger copy of the letter, perhaps Edward Elgar: Memories of a Variation will hold a clearer picture. That is the first time the letter to Dora Penny was published. If someone knows where to find a copy that'd be great. There are two copies available on Amazon, though $20 for a book is a bit much for me to pay for right now. There's a good chance it might be in some libraries, but if one of you would be willing to buy the book, that would be great.

scott

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2004, 09:40:32 PM »
What if the 2 and 3 hump are not a single note but a chord? That would open things up a bit.

Aaron

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2004, 02:11:39 AM »
Perhaps... that's certainly a possibility. One-note, two-note, and three-note chords could work as a code.

angelapiano

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2004, 08:53:07 PM »
Hi all,

Seems odd to me that this would be a musical piece. Neumes (essentially "notes in space" without a staff) were around a long time ago. I get the feeling Elgar was a more forward-thinking type.

If the multi-hump charcaters were chords, there'd need to be a way to determine the intervals between each pitch. Even selecting a starting pitch is essentially arbitrary.

I still need to have some time to look at discussion on Elgar's Enigma Variations. Maybe there's something there?

Ang

Aaron

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2005, 11:00:27 AM »
Discarding music entirely, what if it corresponds with the Biblical Greek alphabet? That alphabet has 24 letters...

jjordan83

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2005, 02:22:40 PM »
Considering that she was a preacher's daughter it makes sense that the biblical alphebet might be involved.  Elgar said to her, "I thought that you, of all people, would crack it."  What else was she known for?  What else did she do in her life?  I think that the focus is too much on Elgar and his passions.  I'd imagine that any good cryptographer would make a code based on the recipient as opposed to himself.  Is there any good information online about the life, passions, and interests of Dora?

Aaron

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2005, 11:21:55 PM »
I haven't found any books yet... I could try ebay or amazon and see if anyone has literature on her. Perhaps I could find the original book the coded letter was printed in.

Aaron

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2006, 05:33:25 PM »
I finally found a place with the book; I'll be able to get a much better view of the cipher I hope.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2006, 05:33:36 PM by Aaron »

Don Crownover

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2007, 07:08:24 PM »
I thought music seemed a logical interpretation of the symbols, but rather than number of curls representing the octave, wonder about it representing the number of notes played at that pitch.  As tries at simple solutions I tried setting the symbol that actually looks like a small c to represent the note c. From there I just stepped around the circle clockwise to get to high C right before getting back to c. So this cipher would give a simple one octave tune. I also tried setting the same direction to E since too curls in that direction look like a stylish E. Then again I marched counterclockwise around until reaching high E. I do not truly play the piano, so I just banged the keys out in the right order. The C variation definitely sounded better (to me) than the E variation. But maybe someone with more musical training might find some variation of this idea that would give a pleasing tune. Or find a piece that fits in with something Elgar wrote. I know it did not sound like Pomp and Circumstance which is the only Elgar tune I am actually familiar with. Thanks. Don

Aaron

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2007, 01:08:12 PM »
That's a very interesting approach, would you mind posting the musical score you came across with that method (just the note letters+octaves for each note would be fine)? I'd like to hear it for myself.

Don Crownover

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2007, 07:40:44 PM »
Sure. Please note (no pun intended ... well maybe) that there were several of the single curl symbols that I was not quite sure of the direction. You might want to compare them against the picture yourself. The capitol letters stand for the higher octave.

Here is the C variation:
ccgggddcccceeBcccfCCdddAAAdAAeeeAAAAeeggggggAAeCCCCedddAAA
BAABeeBcccfffcccddAAAAddeeeABAAdddAAeeBBAAAAdCffCdddAAA
ddAAAeeBBAAAddeBBBBBeAAAddAAeeBBAAAAecccgggeAAAeeccceCccc

Here is the E variation:
eeBBBffeeeeggDeeeAEEfffCCCfCCgggCCCCggBBBBBBCCgEEEEgfffCCC
DCCDggDeeeAAAeeeffCCCCffgggCDCCfffCCggDDCCCCfEAAEfffCCC
ffCCCggDDCCCffgDDDDDgCCCffCCggDDCCCCgeeeBBBgCCCggeeegEeee

Make of it what you will. Don

Aaron

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2007, 10:16:05 AM »
I'm going to turn those into midi files soon to see how they sound, thanks for the input. :D

Dutch

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2007, 09:08:17 AM »
 :)  I am inclined to agree with Aaron about the symbols representing musical notes.  Elgar was a composer and the message could be his way of sending music to her that he had composed just for her.  I have studied music in the past and it seems that Aaron's analysis is very realistic.

Dutch
DUTCH

Don Crownover

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2007, 06:54:06 PM »
When you were thinking that the extra curls might stand for higher octaves, did you turn those into midi files? How did they sound? Don

Aaron

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #17 on: November 19, 2007, 07:47:08 PM »
No, I hadn't. I plan to use some of the holiday time to experiment though. :D

tonybaloney

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #18 on: June 01, 2008, 11:52:29 AM »
Here's the solution to Dorabella - (Elgar often used phonetic spellings)



Aaron

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #19 on: June 02, 2008, 08:35:20 AM »
Interesting solution... can't seem to make heads or tails of it though.

I saw on another forum the possibility that the + oriented symbols stand for dots, and the X oriented symbols stand for dashes, making a kind of morse code that has multiple meanings based on the number of lumps in each symbol.

 


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