Voice Transmissions With The Deceased
by Friedrich Juergenson
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104 CHAPTER 23
The difficult art of “peeling” – constantly recurring signal words – 140 km of tape
At the beginning, the most difficult thing for me was to find my way among the confusion of voices and sounds on the radio. First of all, I had to unmistakably recognize the voices of my friends and to be able to peel them out from the noise babble of the various radio transmissions. At the same time I had to become familiar with the voices of known announcers, speakers and commentators. It was here that my many years of voice and music training became useful, I would even say indispensable.
Over a period of many years I had not only trained my voice, but also assiduously cultivated my hearing and my musical and rhythmic sensibilities. Like most singers I had studied scales, harmonies and composition and had continued to practice in choir, ensemble and solo settings to fine-tune my precise response to the orchestra and my singing partner. Besides, I enjoyed being able to recognize immediately the voices of well-known singers on the radio and on records. In this way my hearing was calibrated in such a way as to discriminate subtle differences among the most varied vocal timbres and it seems very doubtful to me whether I would have been up to this difficult task without these skills and the preceding training.
Still, it was hard work. Only slowly and after countless and frequently very discouraging mistakes in hearing and interpretation did I begin to recognize the voices of my unseen friends and to be able to peel them out of the motley confusion of the radio transmissions.
105 This ‘peeling’ ability was an indispensable condition for the correct understanding of the shouts and communications. After I succeeded in becoming familiar with a specific male or female voice I was able to recognize it instantly, whether or not other voices were talking loudly and at the same time nearby.
Of course my friends helped as best they could using different methods. Merely the fact that most of them used several languages simultaneously was of decisive importance and eased the establishment of contact considerably.
In this context, I want to refer to a logical argument that is used by skeptics. I completely understand that under certain conditions such as fading, variations of sound levels in the receiver, and the overlapping of two or more broadcasts, radio transmissions can include some multilingual snatches. However, my friends frequently spoke longer sentences with complete clarity and without any kind of fading. In these cases, their voices could be heard just as clearly and distinctly as could the voices of the normal radio announcers, even though they were not always as loud as the latter. To overcome my doubts that kept surfacing, and to make their transmissions even more evidential, they often sang in that certain multilingual manner, not only solo, but also as a choir and ensemble. Besides, they used certain, unusual key words. In especially difficult cases, they inserted the names of “Maelarhoejden” or “Moelnbo”.
In addition, with the essential help of my loyal radio assistant Lena, voices were chosen that had characteristic timbres, which were easily recognizable to me as well as for anyone else.
Despite all of these excellent aids, that tapes that date back to 1960 still show numerous defects but also some amusing points. 106 My friends did not have it easy with me, especially during the first year. However, their patience knew no bounds and I never heard them speaking with irritation or even impatience. When I listen today to some of the tapes I have, I am ashamed and annoyed with myself about my own surprising denseness. If someone is lost and keeps making the same mistakes over and over again, he makes a hopelessly fussy as well as ridiculous impression. But now that the bridge had been found, it had to be improved and stabilized.
In the course of more than eight years I recorded about 140 tapes and transcribed the results of these recordings in 20 thick notebooks. The analysis of these recordings proved a severe test for my patience, but at the same time it turned out to be the most fascinating work that I ever accomplished in my life.
If I were to reproduce this research in its entirety – the length of the tape tracks alone amounts to more than 140 kilometers – my book would have to exceed the length of the Bible.
For understandable reasons I have been forced to limit the published record to the most essential, which incidentally not only was a most difficult choice, but also involved the expenditure of a huge amount of time because of the complicated listening procedure.
There are recordings, especially those dating back to the early days, that include two or three key or signal words that are meant for me but that were nearly impossible to peel out from the surrounding noise and static. I remember a recording segment that I had to analyze three or four hours a day over a period of two months before I finally succeeded in getting the exact words.
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