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

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tonybaloney

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #40 on: March 14, 2009, 08:57:42 AM »
As no one’s offering me any odds and not being able to calculate it I wrote a little (lengthy!) programme in simple basic to substitute letters in the Dorabella message – it would pick a random number from 1 to 1000 – if the number was 1 to 130 it placed E for Elgars highest frequency symbol , if 131 to 220 T ...... etc etc then selected in the same manner for the next highest frequency symbol etc
I ran of 2,500 sample messages (got bored after that having to look at them all manually) – if someone who can link such a program to a dictionary could do the same it might prove illuminating.
58 of them contained YOU or any of its backslang variations
7 of these 58 (given below) also contained a common 4 letter word written in the same manner.

WCLNFIRNAPSOUYODOOICCBYEPETSM
RORIENAHNLOOLITUROSOIBMUYEAAESM
LMIBM’LYBJTMLOIBUMYNCTMINYEN

LSPRCAYRNBMOUIODOOASSTIHBHKME
YOYAHRMWRPOOPAKUYOMOATEUIHNNHME
PEATE’PITFKEPOATUEIRSKEARIHR

DTUFCAMFLRINBHNVNNATTSHEREYIO
MNMAEFLKFUNNUAYBMNINASOBHELLEIO
UOASO’UHSWYOUNASBOHFTYOAFHEF

HOGEXTSEAVNILUIPIITOOYUCVCZNR
SISTCEANEGIIGTZLSINITYRLUCAACNR
GRTYR’GUYBZRGITYLRUEOZRTEUCE

MDNSFEWSHYUOLAOPOOEDDTAIYIVUR
WOWEISHXSNOONEVLWOUOETRLAIHHIUR
NRETR’NATCVRNOETLRASDVRESAIS

HVISBTCSRLOADMAFAATVVEMULUYON
CACTUSRPSIAAITYDCAOATENDMURRUON
INTEN’IMEGYNIATEDNMSVYNTSMUS

PWYNMSDNLXEAHOAFAASWWBOTXTREU
DADSTNLGNYAAYSRHDAEASBUHOTLLTEU
YUSBU’YOBCRUYASBHUONWRUSNOTN

Only 2 of these contain 2 common 3 letter words & a 4 letter word
2 out of 2,500 messages

If Elgar’s writing of his single arc symbols had been more precise (his handwriting left a lot to be desired too) we would have been looking for YOUR as well (end of first line in his message and most common 4 letter word in a personal message) – what odds would that give us?
Multiply this by how many words contain an apostrophe – compare the Liszt fragment (which has word divisions)  etc etc
There’s more chance of me quitting smoking than this cipher solution being wrong.
Prof. Jones may also like to try conjuring up anything at all intelligible out of any of these sets of random letters.
Look at the linguistic contortions Eric Sams had to go through to contrive his effort.
My Dorabella solution contains 27 words – 13 are in plain English, 2 are abbreviations, 12 are phoneticised (most very obvious) – it does not contain any anagrams
I did not solve this because of any cipher expertise, mathematical ability or computer wizardry – the simple fact is I knew immediately I saw it that

BLTACEIARWUNISNFNNELLHSYWYDUO
INIEYARQATNNTEDMINUNEHOMSYRRYUO
TOEHO’TSHGDOTNEHMOSALDOEADYA

is not a random string of letters because since taking up this hobby about 7 years ago I have looked at thousands of similar strings of random letters and knew intuitively how rare it is to find common words in them – hence not rejecting it as nonsense, as others with less practical experience must have done, I came to the solution.

Have I convinced anybody at all yet? - is anybody even wavering? - or is it a case of Victor Meldrew

Aaron

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #41 on: March 14, 2009, 02:59:40 PM »
I do believe your solution has merit, it's just that I wish I knew exactly what the meaning is supposed to be. The solution itself seems as cryptic as the original cipher.

tonybaloney

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #42 on: March 15, 2009, 02:38:09 PM »
The solution itself seems as cryptic as the original cipher.

Aaron – you do me an injustice – which bit is still cryptic to you  –
First I’ll explain that despite what you read elsewhere about Elgar having a fascination with codes and ciphers – his fascination was with the English language and wordplay – his notebooks are full of acrostics not ciphers – there is not another cipher to be found amongst them – crossword puzzles, yes, ciphers, no

the Dorabella solution reads (after converting the half of it that had phoneticised spellings) –
I’ve added some punctuation to make it clearer –

‘B.(Bella) Hellcat i.e. a war usin’ effin’ henshellin’ why your
antiquarian net diminuene-ho/oh -am sorry you
theo, O’tis God then me, so la Deo da, aye’

He rhymes three words in the first line – he uses the childlike pronunciation diminueneho instead of diminuendo to mean diminishes so the sound of the ‘ho’ can also apply to the next word – ‘theo’ (remember Dora is a vicar’s daughter) is short for ‘theological’ presumably so he doesn’t have to struggle with it like he did trying to spell ‘antiquarian’ in backslang  - the last line he inserts a pun by changing the ‘de’ in ‘la-de-da’ to ‘Deo’ – he finishes with ‘aye’ as he does in at least one other letter.
Another letter informs us of an egg fight between them.
Yes he uses childish words in other writings, he even had a childish nickname for his wife
The whole is just an amusing thank you note after their visit – nothing more

The Liszt fragment reads –

“Mes it’s one Frn seezhup”

which is bracketed against a piece of music which has ‘allegro ma non troppo’ (play fast but not overly so) above it and ‘freely treated’ below it.
‘Mes’ is either a mistake for ‘yes’ or Elgar’s way of saying ‘my’ as in ‘My goodness!’
‘Frn’ is his abbreviation for ‘Friday night’ – that is payday over here, the time everyone before the days of television, cinema, radio etc. went down the pub with a little money in their pockets, the evening usually ending in a singsong & dance, the most popular being ‘knees-up mother Brown’ –
‘Seize up’ is what happened to your knees afterwards.
So the conductor’s interpretation of the piece of music must have been a bit too free for Elgar’s taste prompting this amusing comment. 

This is ridiculous – I’ll being having to draw cartoons next like the Americans did to explain 9-11
 

Aaron

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #43 on: March 15, 2009, 05:25:02 PM »
Thanks for the explanation, it makes more sense now. I apologize for being dense, it's just that I have trouble understanding language in general, never mind someone's encrypted shorthand. ;) I'm sorry if I got you all bent out of shape. The only point I was trying to make is that shorthand by itself is hard to read, especially that of doctors. They assume that the person reading their writing has some prior knowledge of the point they are trying to get across. This clearly applies in the Dorabella cipher, which is intended to be a letter to a close friend.

Comedysouth

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #44 on: December 20, 2010, 11:00:52 AM »
Just registered here to tell Tony that he must be on crack if he is trying to pass this bs off as a serious solution. Totally fucking delusional.

Believe me, it was worth bringing this thread back just to say that.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2010, 11:02:15 AM by Comedysouth »

tonybaloney

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #45 on: December 21, 2010, 11:37:37 AM »
Merry Xmas to you too -

nicotine is the only substance I have ever used (still do).

I would have preferred the phrase "Totally effin delusional" but never mind.

You wouldn't be a musicologist by any chance?


escher7

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #46 on: November 11, 2011, 04:20:44 PM »
Too many reaches for meaning. It's not that complicated.

escher7

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #47 on: November 24, 2011, 07:24:00 PM »
I am 95% certain that I have it. Half of my plaintext jumps right off the page, requiring no interpretation other than the odd reversal of a word and a few last letters in a word moved to the front. I have one brief phrase that is driving me nuts, but the rest is done. The letter tells Dora how sad EE is and goes on to comment on how he is aging. There are then two sentences saying "you know I am forever fond of you" and that he is writing "to the one I love". (Paraphrasing for now.)  As I suspected, it contains intimate thoughts that EE would not have wanted public. I have no doubt that he remembered and probably Dora knew how to crack it. I also want to see if there is a key of some kind.

I don't mean to be coy, but until it is 100% complete, I am holding on to it. I have written to the Elgar Society to see if they are still willing to award a prize. I would like to receive something other than a pat on the back for a month's work, (obsession).  Skepticism is expected as I can't believe I have done it either when so many others have tried, but I was lucky in picking a frequency table for comparison that so clearly gave me the answer that I knew it was correct. The main difficulty is with the vernacular and that is what is giving me trouble with the one phrase I don't have yet. It is tempting to see "Larks" and "hellcats" but EE really wasn't that obtuse. Still, he did mix things up and one has to be careful not to grab at words that aren't intended. As others have done, I read a great deal of background to acquire a feeling for the man's ways with words and that has aided me.

When I hear back (if) from the EE Society and when I finish the damn thing, I will publish it here for criticism. For all my confidence, others may see small corrections that have escaped me as a result of temporary blindness. Then again, I may be way off track.

I picked this forum at random, but it seems as good a place as any to publish.

Rick Henderson
« Last Edit: December 19, 2011, 06:34:07 PM by Aaron »

escher7

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Re: Intro to the Cipher (Not)
« Reply #48 on: December 19, 2011, 05:27:28 PM »
With great humility I now know that my "solution" to this cypher, while very creative, is quite wrong. While laughing at others who have imagined wonderful things to make their solution fit, most notably blaming Elgar's word games, I fell into the same trap. My solution is as much fantasy as the others.

Ironically, I believe that I have found the correct clear text. Unfortunately the key, while partially coming out, is not consistent. This means that either the "Jones" interpretation of the symbols, (taken from Elgar's own  notes) is incorrect or EE made mistakes in encryption. The fact that part of the key makes sense, tells me that only part of the English cypher text I am using is correct.  The conclusion can only be that Elgar used one of the other variations of his cypher. There are only so many ways the symbols can practically be used and I am now pursuing the variations, hoping to get the correct key.

I have left my self-assured "solution" to remind me how nutty we amateurs can be in our attempts. But I am not finished yet.

Aaron

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #49 on: December 19, 2011, 06:36:11 PM »
Well, at least you're trying! :) Here's hoping your next attempt hits closer to the mark.

macnamband

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #50 on: August 12, 2013, 11:17:09 PM »
I'm a journalist writing a piece for a science magazine about the Dorabella cipher....  Can I ask you some questions?

Mark MacNamara
San Francisco, CA
415 595 4405
macnamband@mac.com

Aaron

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #51 on: August 13, 2013, 01:41:33 PM »
Sure thing. I'll send you an email.

Diane

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #52 on: August 27, 2013, 10:10:08 AM »
OK - I'm Dorabella
Fairly young, a bit musical. Probably learned to play the pianoforte among accomplishments proper to a middle-class gel. Not stupid, but my knowledge of ciphers and things runs to the language of flowers, and how to flirt with a fan and stamps.

A minister's daughter, so unused to worker's use of 'f' words.  Mr. Elgar is introduced to me, and I begin a conversation in which we find we are kindred spirits. Something initiates a train of thought which leads Elgar to provide me with a page of curly marks that I cannot understand.

Likely scenario?  As a polite gesture to his eminence, and his profession, I say something like, O Mr. Elgar, I did so enjoy hearing your ....(x piece of music)... that I implored Papa to obtain the sheet music for me.

Says Elgar, 'I should be delighted to hear you play it'.

Say I, who never expected to be taken seriously,

'... But I confess that while I can read the notes I should play, my fingers become terribly tangled and as yet I haven't been able to play it as you deserve it should be'.

Says Elgar,   I daresay I can provide you with an alternative notation, one easier on your delightful digits, though it may prove as much of a puzzle in another way.

At which I flutter my fan, delighted to be off the hook and to be able to say over dinner that this eminent gentleman has been so kind and condescending.

The bit of paper, when it arrives, is certainly beyond me, because I've never seen a piece of Elgar's music written in my life.

So - how about an overlay, point to point, on Elgar's sheet music?

*retires, fluttering ignorant eyelashes*

 

Aaron

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #53 on: August 28, 2013, 10:56:12 AM »
That's a good question. Who knows of a good source for scans/photos of Elgar's original handwritten pieces of music?

Diane

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Re: Intro to the Cipher
« Reply #54 on: August 29, 2013, 12:18:06 PM »
Nimrod, from Elgar's Enigma variations
http://www.8notes.com/scores/7105.asp