It is no secret that “S” is filled with ciphers. Jen and Eric identify and solve all but one of the known ciphers. Readers quickly followed a month or so after the book’s release with the solution to the Chapter 10 cipher using the EOTVOS wheel.

The question remains – are there more ciphers yet to be identified? Surely the answer is yes. Why lay such groundwork and leave only one cipher for the readers? And yet another question that remains – is there one or more musical ciphers in “S”? Given the number of musical references, and the fact that one Chapter remains unnumberd

  • Doug Dorst once tweeted a clue – it was nothing more than the image of fingers forming a chord on a guitar. That chord turned out to be A-flat diminished, often written as AbDIM.

    This turns out to be the name Abdim, musically encoded. Abdim is the character in Ship of Theseus that handed S the valise (p244-245).

  • We meet our monkey first (or our first monkey, at least) tethered to an organ grinder returning his barrel organ after a day playing in the streets.
  • Cruzatte (the name of the park where Jen wandered away from her parents when she was young) is certainly named after the fiddle player who accompanied Lewis and Clark as they traveled around their world of North America in search of a water route to the Pacific Ocean. The Territory, as S climbs the monkey path up to meet the Governor, is compared to Cruzatte on p351 by Jen. On that path that S travels, he catalogs many sounds, including a monkey and several birds: a Merlin (Stenfalk), a crow (Corbeau), an oystercatcher (Ostrero), and a magpie (S).
  • Birds play a major role in “S”, and one of their primary functions is, of course, to sing.
  • One chapter is entitled Interlude: Tocatta and Fugue in Free Time. Toccata and fugue: two separate types of music woven into one work. This seems to explicitly refer to Bach’s Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor, which of course has its own authorship controversy. Here is an entire post devoted to thoughts of a cipher contained within the Interlude.
  • The Archer’s Tales (Los Cuentos del Arquero) was known interchangeably as The Book of S (El Libro de S). It was destroyed in a fire at a Spanish abbey known as San Tadeo de la Tejera in 1759. The abbey was located somewhere near Bilbao, Spain on the northern coast. There were 19 monks at the abbey at the time of the fire, and all but one perished. The brother who survived managed to save and transport a sack of books to the Santiago Cathedral in Bilbao, but he was unable to save The Archer’s Tales.

    The name San Tadeo de la Tejera means, literally, Saint Heart of the Yew Tree (tadeo = heart, tejera = yew tree).  The yew tree has a perfect wood for creating longbows for archery. It is also prized for use in the construction of musical instruments, such as the lute.

  • Fn6, p26, mentions that Straka was a violin prodigy.
  • The sailors on “S”‘s ship communicate through wooden whistles with “songs.”
  • The first word on p26 is Rest. The paragraph that follows, when S first awakens on the ship, is filled with musical references describing S’s experience.
  • There is a theory that S’s name is encoded musically using GPS coordinates gleaned from the story and visualised on a musical staff of latitude and longitude.
  • Another theory looks to the Glass Bead Game as a basis for “S”. The game is heavily based on connecting music to everything else.
  • On p352, Jen circles the words Follow the monkey and comments Sound advice. Is this a clue that the cipher we are looking for involves sound? Music?

Okay – your turn. There are many more musical references, clues, and maybe solid indications of a cipher we could work on together.

What do you seee musically in “S”? Go.