12

I am reading Craig Wright's Listening to Music. On page 222, he states:

No wonder that during World War II (1939-1945) both sides, Fascists as well as Allied, used the music of [Beethoven's fifth] symphony to symbolize triumph — in Morse code, short-short-short-long is the letter "V", as in "Victory"

But it also stands for V as in 5, which is the symphony referenced above.

My Question:

Is V in Morse code • • • − because the main theme of Beethoven's V Symphony is short-short-short-long? Or is this just a really really weird coincidence?

  • 1
    This question should be off topic, as it is about the origins of Morse Code, not music (Beethoven's Fifth came first). – user3169 Apr 7 '15 at 0:20
  • The letter v in morse code is used in groups of three (VVV), recurring, to allow a receiver to be finely tuned to the transmitted frequency – Thomas McGill Mar 24 at 21:22
12

According to Matthew Guerrieri:

No one has ever been able to determine whether Samuel F.B. Morse—or Alfred Vail, Morse's more technically adept assistant, who did the bulk of the work in developing what came to be called Morse Code—had Beethoven in mind when the encoding of the alphabet reached V, the Roman numeral of the symphony it seems to echo.

(The First Four Notes: Beethoven's Fifth and the Human Imagination, p. 212-213)

It's generally accepted that Vail used letter frequency to assign codes, but of course, he might still have taken the opportunity. I don't suppose we can ever know.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.