2007. David W. Halsell. FUNKENSPIEL.

Soundwork by: DAVID W. HALSELL
Title: Funkenspiel
Format: stereo
Length: 3:57, 3:41, 2:02 min
Year: 1995


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Funkenspiel is a noise/music composition consisting entirely of recordings of shortwave radio, spacecraft transmissions, and atmospheric phenomena. At times both ethereal and unsettling, Funkenspiel includes repetitive rhythms, bursts of noise, and undulating radio static. A prominent feature in the source material is the use of “number stations”– repetitious coded vocal messages of unidentified origin, transmitted via shortwave bands (see the Conet Project at These broadcasts are supposed covert transmissions by various state intelligence agencies to field operatives.

Natural and man-made radio waves envelope us constantly, generating variable definitions and meaning of what is signal and what is noise. Funkenspiel thematically considers the politics of control in information transmission, the interplay and significance of noise in a sonic environment, and the metaphorical implications of the body/voice being awash in a constant flow of encoded information in radio signals.

The title of the work is a variation on “funkspiel” (radio-play), a technique used in WWII by both German and Russian forces in which foreign agents and transmitters were manipulated into treasonous activities; “funkenspiel” can be translated literally as transmitter-play or spark-play.











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