Secret Codes in Music by Jacki Delecki

Today, I am very happy to welcome back romance author, Jacki Delecki, who has just released the latest novel in her series The Code Breakers, A Cantata of Love. To celebrate her new release, and in keeping with its title, Jacki is sharing some special research which inspired this new story, about how coded messages can be embedded in music. Though her romance is set in the Regency, Jacki also shares information about the use of music to code secret messages in other eras as well.

Now, let Jacki enlighten you about music as code . . .

Secret Codes In Music

Do you know how to read music?

If so, take a look at this and tell me if you notice anything unusual about it.

Line of sheet music with a treble clef and a few notes on the scale.

This is known as the BACH motif, which is an example of musical cryptography, a coded system used to create musical note sequences for names or other messages in musical compositions.

I have been intrigued by the idea of using musical scores and passages to encrypt messages for some time and thought it was a great concept for my Code Breakers Regency romantic suspense series. It provided inspiration for my current project, book 4 in the Code Breakers series, A Cantata of Love.

Part of my fascination with this method of ciphering stems from my love of music. I’ve studied both voice and piano—mainly jazz—and I appreciate the mathematical complexity of music. Coding a message into a song’s musical score or the song lyrics requires a great deal of creativity and presented a tremendous challenge as I plotted the story. While researching period opera singers, such as Mrs. Elizabeth Billington, I discovered that operas were written for singers to show off their voices and allowed for improvisation. That would certainly have made it easy for musicians and performers to send coded messages to specific individuals!

Early examples of musical cryptography include Baroque composers who wove their names or the names of significant individuals into musical selections. The application found popularity with those engaging in espionage, due to the difficulty in breaking musical codes. Other examples of musical coding can be found in the songs of American slaves. Negro spirituals provided a means of communication for those who wanted to escape slavery; references to "going home" or "bound for Canaan" didn’t signify death and heaven but heading north to Canada and freedom.

In 2013, International Science Times featured a story that suggested a musical score written by composer Gottfried Federlein contained annotations that secretly documented the location of buried Nazi treasure.

One online website reports a number of "creepy spy radio transmissions" that feature suspected musical clues and/or codes broadcast over shortwave radios. This practice began around the time of WWI and continues today.

A special thank you to my friend and music composer Greg Bartholomew, who shared his expertise with me on this topic. Here is one of his compositions, Baby Blue Roses. When Daisies Pied is an example of a piece of music ladies would have sung during the Regency period; click the link to listen.

Are there any songs you believe contain a hidden message? Comment for a chance to win an ebook copy of A Cantata of Love.

Woman from the neck down in a royal blue gown.

A Cantata of Love   Blurb

Napoleonic France is no place for an Englishman, especially Michael Harcourt, the Earl of Kendal, who is on a clandestine assignment for the Crown. Already injured and facing imminent discovery by Napoleon and Fouche’s men, Michael finds his escape made even more perilous when he is charged with the safety of a young boy who must be spirited out of Paris.

Desperate to escape the terrible fate that awaits her if she remains in France, Lady Gabrielle De Valmont must disguise herself as a boy and rely on the cunning of a virtual stranger—an Englishman, no less—to smuggle her out of the country. When the Earl’s injury becomes severely infected, rendering him gravely ill, Gabrielle realizes it is now up to her to save them both.

A Cantata of Love   Excerpt

A Cantata of Love is the Fourth Book in the Best-selling The Code Breaker Series!

Michael Harcourt, the Earl of Kendal, woke to the soft voice and the delectable smell of a woman. She smelled like wildflowers. And her voice was soothing and sweet. Last night must have been one hell of a night of dissipation since he remembered nothing. He dreamt about his French mother crooning to him.

What was wrong with him? He had been in bed with a French woman and he thought of his mother. His head ached as if horses had trampled over him. He tried to remember her name—Yvette? Or was it Mimi? He cracked open one eye. Big blue eyes the color of cornflowers stared down at him, and a pink lush lower lip was pouting. How could he have forgotten this angel’s name? Yvette. Definitely Yvette. "Yvette?" Or maybe Mimi? "Mimi?"

He needed her again to refresh his memory. He raised his arms to pull her against him. He grabbed for her, but his arms felt weak. Thank God the rest of his body wasn’t that tired. She yelped when he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her on top of him. "Yvette, darling. Don’t fight me. I need you."

Yvette gasped and tightened against him. He rubbed himself against her slender body. Not his usual type he noted. Clearly not an opera dancer by the slender frame. What had he drunk last night that he couldn’t remember this delicious handful?

"Let go of me." She hissed.

He whispered against her soft, tender neck, kissing her ear. "Were you this feisty last night?"

"Let me go, you brute." She shouted next in his ear, causing his head to feel as if it were cracking wide open. She jumped back, tripping on the bedclothes and knocking the water canister from the side table. The loud crash reverberated in his head.

Women didn’t fight him. He was a generous lover. Obviously he had overlooked something about last night.

Michael looked at the disheveled, beautiful woman glaring at him. Her blond hair sparkled in the morning sunlight, but her bright eyes were now dark and stormy.

Damn, damn. She looked way too innocent and way too marriageable. What had he gotten himself into?

He rearranged the bedding to hide the obvious, then lifted himself to the head of the bed.

The mademoiselle didn’t look so much offended as just plain pissing mad. Her eyes had narrowed and her face glowed a deep red. She had the look of a woman who might impale him with the fireplace poker.

The door to his bedroom swung open, knocking against the wall. The pain behind his eyes pounding like a son of a…

Denby, his valet, stormed into the room, swearing under his breath. "What the hell? Are you okay, Mademoiselle Gabrielle?"

She gestured with her hands and spoke in rapid French to Denby. Had she just called the Earl of Kendal a "stupid, horse’s ass?"

Denby took the irate woman’s arm. "I’ll clean up the mess. Now that he’s awake, you should prepare yourself to leave. We’ve a long journey ahead of us."

With no word of farewell, the Mademoiselle Gabrielle huffed and left the room.

Denby chuckled "Barely awake and already causing problems." He bent to pick up the water container. "It is good to see you back, my lord. You scared the hell out of me. If it weren’t for Mademoiselle Gabby’s nursing, I’m not sure…"

"I’ve been sick?" He did feel a bit weak after his rustle with the young woman.

"You developed a fever right after we escaped from Paris."

The memory of fleeing Paris and Fouche’s men brought him totally awake. "All I remember is leaving Paris dressed as a nun."

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About the Author

Jacki Delecki is a bestselling romantic suspense writer. Delecki’s Grayce Walters Series, which chronicles the adventures of a Seattle animal acupuncturist, was an editor’s selection by USA Today. Delecki’s Romantic Regency The Code Breaker Series hit number one on Amazon. Both acclaimed series are available for purchase at

To learn more about Jacki and her books and to be the first to hear about giveaways, join her newsletter found on her website. Follow her on FB—Jacki Delecki; Twitter @jackidelecki.