Muller Monthly Music Mega-Meta, 2014

puzzle — untimed; Mega-Meta — 75 minutes (Matt) 

It’s Mega-Meta 2014 time! Our puzzle is called “Sound It Out,” and its theme entries give us a map to figure out the classic rock and roll hit Pete tells us we’re looking for.


They are:

17-A [They show up in January through June] = SIXTEENTHS

22-A [It’s dotted in July, then occurs on the offbeat in August through December] = QUARTER. I have no grasp of music theory or notation so I had to look up what a dotted quarter note means, which turns out to be that you double its length.

36-A [What you need to do once in each 2014 MMMM puzzle to get this year’s mega-meta] = HIT THE RIGHT NOTE

56-A [It’s repeated in some classic rock-and-roll songs (like the mega-meta)] = GUITAR RIFF

Then there are two more tangential (it seemed to me) themers:

35-D [With 49-Across, what you get if you string together the added letters from the “add-a-letter” clues in the first 10 puzzles] = RED/HERRING. Ha.

62-A [“Game of Thrones” actor Mark (and a clever way to corroborate the mega-meta answer)] = ADDY. Probably to be parsed as “add Y,” but this felt like one of those hints that’s only useful once you’ve gotten the answer. And as I’m typing this I see that this is a very amusing and clever addition to the puzzle. I’ll come back to it later.

OK, so the first thing I did was write down the letters in the 16 boxes from the January-June puzzles. Seemed promising as the first four were M-I-C-K, a name with lots of classic rock cred (Fleetwood, Jagger, Jones). And then an E-, and I thought it was going to be Mickey something, but then…an A. So MICKEA. Hmm. Guessed there was about a 50% chance I was on the right track.

What next? The same 16 boxes for August-December yielded MONAOT, random-looking and unpersuasive. But since a dotted note doubles its length, I decided to write down the 32 boxes for August-December, which yields something interesting: O-R-S-C-H-T! We’re missing a B to make BORSCHT! Which is made from beets! Skipping a beet, get it? This had to be the right track.

It wasn’t, and five minutes later I put the crack pipe down and decided that it was just coincidence.

What next? A facepalm moment — I had noticed all year (but forgotten today as I was solving) that one clue in each of the twelve puzzles had a parenthetical sentence starting with “Note”. For example, in January’s puzzle, A-TEAM at 52-D is clued as [Mr. T’s TV group (Note: Also a song from Ed Sheeran, with “The”)].

The other 11 “note” clues, in chronological order, yield these answers:


So it sounds like we have six sixteenth notes of A-C-D-F-D-C, then a dotted D quarter-note, then off-beat notes of G-F-E-C-D. I don’t know how to sound out those notes, but the power of the Internet helped me to discover that they are the famous and extremely badass GUITAR RIFF of Mega-Meta answer LAYLA by Eric Clapton.

So what about that ADDY hint? If you look at the symmetrically placed answer in the grid you’ll see that it’s LA-LA, so you can ADD the Y right in there to confirm your answer. Sneaky!

That was a fun mega-meta, and I’m sure most of the 50-odd folks who got it before me were unencumbered by visions of skipping a beet with a bowl of borscht. Once you notice the “note” idea it’s smooth sailing to LAYLA from there, but a lot of fun as well.

So I finished the year with 9 out of 13, including the Mega-Meta. My favorite puzzle of the year was December’s masterpiece, followed by very nice puzzles in March, May, and October. Bravo to our Meta Maestro on an outstanding Season 3.

Will there be a Muller Monthly Music Meta, Season 4? Pete says: yes, there will be! Awesome. This is a fantastic series, and I hope I’ll see you back here later this month for Episode 1 of Season 4. And I give the 2014 Mega-Meta 4.5 stars.

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16 Responses to Muller Monthly Music Mega-Meta, 2014

  1. Alex Bourzutschky says:

    The dot means that you add half of the note’s duration, not that you double it– a dotted quarter has duration equal to that of a quarter plus half a quarter, or a quarter and an eighth (or three eighths). A half note, usually getting 2 beats, gets 3 when dotted.

    I found it quite easy to get this as I went ahead and confirmed that the “add a letter” did indeed give RED HERRING, and along the way it was quite easy to see the “Note:”. It would have taken quite a lot longer if I had not done that.

  2. abide says:

    Oh well…I had the correct notes in order after the December puzzle, but even with the time signatures I couldn’t make a song out it. My music theory is pretty non-existent. I was very close to taking my notes up to the choir loft this morning, but I couldn’t think of a plausible cover story for the organist.

    Despite my failure, I really enjoyed this year and appreciate Pete’s efforts and talents!

  3. abide says:

    Also, Matt, what was your internet search to find Layla? When I put the notes in quotes, nothing was returned.

    • Shawn P says:

      I had the same problem Goolging it. Fortunately, there are a lot of piano apps out there, so I downloaded one and played it out a million times til it made sense. (I also Googled something like “Best Classic Guitar Riffs” which kind of helped me sort of backsolve a bit.) That said, it was a great deal of fun. This is my first complete season of MMMM. Kudos Pete!

  4. Pete Muller says:

    Thanks Matt

    56 people got the mega-meta this year (26 of them before this puzzle).

    You were the only one that found the borscht that went with the herring :)

    Thanks for your kind words!


    PS Abide…if you simply type in “a c d f d c d” into google, references to Layla show up on the first results page

  5. Tom says:

    Once I found the notes, I loaded a virtual keyboard web page (didn’t have a real one handy). I hammered out the first few notes and got it right away. What a cool aha moment!

  6. Rachael says:

    Oh wow, now do I ever feel dumb. I COMPLETELY missed somehow that the answers with the notes actually had “Note” in the clue.

    That could also be because I worked the mega-meta out backwards, starting with a list of great guitar riffs, then counting off on my fingers to find a riff that had 12 notes. When I hit upon Layla I looked up the sheet music for the riff and saw the sixteenth notes and dotted quarter right away (although it has been many years since I last looked at sheet music).

    Then I went back and found the notes – by looking for single-letter parts of answers. I never went back to the clue and made the connection. Wow, am I kicking myself.

    Oh well – at least I figured it out somehow! That’s part of the fun of metas.

  7. Jeff G. says:

    Outstanding finale after a wonderful year of musical metas! Loved how it all tied together in the end – the red herring was especially funny. Looking forward to another year. Thanks Pete!

  8. jefe says:

    I’m so mad at myself for not getting this after week 7 –

    Early on, I started tracking the Add-A-Letter clues/entries as well as the Note: clues/entries. At week 6, I figured REDHER was a red herring, and thought ACDFDC might be enough to go on, but googling led me absolutely nowhere so I gave up attempting to guess till the other day. If only I’d waited till week 7, as googling ACDFDCD yields Layla all over the page!

  9. Katiedid says:

    I solved it in July. I entered the notes on to find the answer. But first, finding RED HERR… was aggravating, surprising, and very funny. I really enjoyed this mega-meta.

  10. Abby says:

    Matt- I was really afraid you were going to give the game away when you mused in these writeups about the Note clues. I really thought you were going to get it then.

    I was pretty darn sure of my answer a month earlier because of the total number of notes that would be coming, but I was too wimpy to send it in. I decided if the next note was what I thought it was, I’d answer. Quick enough to be first, but not to be alone for the month. I resolve to be less wimpy this year!

  11. Dan F says:

    I noticed the awkward “(Note:)” clues by the second or third puzzle, and once I confirmed that they were all pointing to musical notes, it was just about waiting for enough info to Name That Tune. With five notes (which was when Abby figured it out), I was getting annoyed that I couldn’t come up with it, but I never thought of the right rhythmic pattern. (Note: I am a professional musician.) After the sixth note, the seventh was inferrable, and the “Layla” riff jumped right out. I am not good at metapuzzles, so I was stunned to be only the second correct submitter, and “tied” with the brilliant Abby.

    Benefit of obliviousness: completely failed to notice the “add-a-letter” clues.

    Drawback of obliviousness: stopped trying to solve all the monthly metas after earning so many points with the mega-meta answer. Did not realize that we had to solve a certain number of them to qualify for the prize drawing! Whoops.

    Thank you Pete!

  12. Alex Bourzutschky says:

    I also can’t have been the only one to have thought the “add a letter” for META was L, to make METAL, a conductor (rather than MEHTA).

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