Your friend Alice has made a recording of her favourite song for you. She sent the audio to you in an email, but when you opened the link, it sounded terrible! You ask her what's wrong with the file, but she just tells you to listen more carefully.

What is Alice's favourite song?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ aww I'm at work and can`t hear it... $\endgroup$
    – lois6b
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 11:07
  • $\begingroup$ Is this some kind of code or just a tune from a song? If the later is true, its difficult to guess as it becomes region specific. $\endgroup$
    – Techidiot
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 11:16
  • $\begingroup$ It is not a clip from a song $\endgroup$
    – jmoriarty
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 11:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You are right. This sounds terrible. $\endgroup$
    – Marius
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 11:41
  • $\begingroup$ Are there two songs with are added? $\endgroup$
    – Amruth A
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 11:54

1 Answer 1



The recording consists of a succession of single notes. There's nothing super-obviously hidden in them or in the relationship between the stereo channels, but I haven't looked hard. The notes are all of (approximately or exactly? I haven't checked) the same duration and appear to be played on the same (presumably synthetic) instrument. They are apparently not all equally loud, which may or may not be significant. (The particular measure of loudness I'm using right now is evidently sensitive to pitch, which makes it kinda unhelpful.)

The notes mostly come in repeating groups. They are all taken from the scale of C major or A minor, within one octave from A (low) to G (high). The notes and repeat counts are as follows: E3 G3 B1 F2 A1 D3 B2 G2 E1 A1 E3 C4 F3 G3 D3 G2 E1 D3 B2 G2 F3 D3 A3. There are 12 unique combinations here out of 23 (note,count) pairs.

This suggests a substitution cipher with each (note,count) indicating a particular letter of the alphabet, perhaps in some nice systematic manner where e.g. C1..B1 are A..G, C2..B2 are H..N, etc. That turns out not to work, but if we take A1..G1 to be A..G etc., then we get: SUBMARINEASXTURNERINTRO.


this doesn't quite make sense but there appears to be something called Submarine by Alex Turner, which would mean having E2 E1 where I had E3. Fair enough; that's just an ambiguity.

So I think Alice's favourite song is

the intro to Submarine by Alex Turner

which turns out (thanks to Mike Ball in comments) to be

a song called "Stuck on the Puzzle".

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think Alice's favorite song is Stuck on the Puzzle, the intro song to the album Submarine by Alex Turner. A very fitting song indeed! $\endgroup$
    – Mike Ball
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, I hadn't realised "Submarine" is an album rather than a song. Will adjust. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 17:26

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