How to send hidden messages in dance music with StegIbiza.

How to send hidden messages in dance music with StegIbiza.

Ibiza has become famous for its nightlife and the electronic music, having a highly regarded reputation for its summer club scene, as the only place in the world where you can find the world’s top DJ’s and packed floors of clubbers embracing the addictive music along with its party culture.

Our connection to music and the capacity to feel emotion from the base, beats, and melody, so to speak – moves people of all cultures, and can trigger such euphoric rewarding experiences. And now it’s quite possible clubbers can glean more than just a feeling with driving rhythms and the tempo of electronic music used as the carrier of hidden morse code-like messages.

The idea of using music to send messages has a long history, through techniques such as backmasking, and other methods such as mapping notes to letters, but the art of steganography was founded back in the 16th century by a German Benedictine monk Johannes Trithemius, in his book Polygraphia, which is credited with being the first published work on cryptology and steganography.

Dr. Krzysztof Szczypiorski from the University of Technology in Warsaw, Poland, a world-renowned expert in the areas of steganography took it to another level by producing tunes with hidden coded messages built within the tempo of modified dance tracks.

Krzysztof Szczypiorski has developed a new steganography program specifically for electronic music called StegIbiza inspired by the populated Ibizan clubs that play all night floor grooving electronic music exploiting dance music’s rhythms that could be used through a crafty method of sending secret messages across an entire floor of dancing clubbers oblivious to the fact of what they are really listening too.

Szczypiorski’s technique is to vary the tempo of a particular track of music using a series of Morse code dots and dashes that encodes a hidden message which is completely inaudible to the average listener.

Using Apple’s Logic X Pro digital audio workstation, Szczypiorski modified “Rhythm is a Dancer” by Snap without any vocal parts then arranged in a techno style, adjusting the tempo to encode the message “Steganography is a dancer!” with the message appearing twice in the music and played his version to an audience of ten music professionals.

He then tested his program at an outdoor party with regular dance music listeners with several more songs modified using his StegIbiza program. Using a DJ to play his music and shift the tempo of the song to gradually spell out his message, the test revealed he could change the tempo by one percent without anyone noticing. Between one and two percent, only the professionals heard a difference. But when adjusted the tempo by 4 percent, at the outdoor party, half of the listeners noticed a change. Szczypiorski then reported “At this level the experiment was stopped, because the rest of the party did not care about the music”

Listen closely next time you’re in the club. The DJ might just be trying to send you a hidden message. You can read Szczypiorski paper available now online.