Muller Monthly Music Meta, December

puzzle 10 mins; meta 7 mins (Matt) 


Title: “Recording Studio Addition”
Prompt: The meta for this puzzle is an 11-letter piece of musical equipment.

The prompt made me slightly apprehensive since I’m not a musician so might not be familiar with much musical equipment, but I trusted that our meta-maestro wouldn’t make even a December puzzle tough for those of us who don’t play, and indeed that turned out to be the case.

Pete has been going to extremes on his themes this year, with many metas having zero or one theme entries and many others having six or more. Keeping us on our toes! This is a zero themer, though we do get one big hint: 55-Down reads [___ sign (symbol to outline five times to solve the meta)] yielding the answer PLUS. So we’re looking for +++++ somewhere in the grid.

Judging by the pattern of black squares and that we were looking for five of them, I wondered if there might be one plus sign in each of the four corners and then also in the middle, and that turned out to be the case. I quickly noticed that if you make a plus sign in each of those five grid locales, each uses the letters in BOARD.

That can’t be a coincidence, but now what? I Googled musical equipment plus BOARD, and the phrase MIXING BOARD appeared prominently in search results. One of those things you recognize but don’t know the name for (in my case) — that many-levered panel that music producers sit before while the band plays on the other side of the glass, adjusting things to maximize the music.

Figured it had to be right and i sent it in and it was, but I’m still not exactly sure what the wordplay tie-in is. “Mixing” meaning addition, i.e. the plus signs? Or something else? So a pretty clear click though not 100%, so let me know in comments if something went musically over my head (which would not be surprising).

This one played easy for me, but with just 218 correct entries with a few minutes left before deadline, this was a pretty tough one for solvers on the whole.

4.10 stars. Liked it just fine. Reminder that the next puzzle is Dec. 22nd, so I’ll see you back here in a few weeks for that.

This entry was posted in Contests and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Muller Monthly Music Meta, December

  1. Pete Muller says:

    Thanks Matt!

    217 correct this month…

    MIXING is meant in the cryptic sense – MIX the letters in {B,O,A,R,D} around…

  2. stmv says:

    In hindsight I found it to be pretty impressive that the five pluses had the five different letters of BOARD in their center position.

  3. Rammy M says:

    and Recording Studio “Addition” because it’s a plus sign

  4. Alan says:

    I think I’ve asked a similar question before…..but was any thought given to not being so explicit about the use of the Plus Sign as the device? Perhaps cluing PLUS or PLUS SIGN without direct reference? Might the use of the center and the use of symmetry be enough? Or is that a little too November.

    • Pete Muller says:

      Hi Alan

      Without PLUS, I don’t think the meta would have been gettable.

      I could have made the clue for PLUS a little more obscure, but 2020 has been a tough enough year, and I leaned towards making it a little more helpful :)

      I hope it didn’t make it too easy for you!

      • Alan says:

        This idea of ‘making it too easy’ gets me going on another of my mental sidebars–what makes a puzzle hard for the solvers?

        I find that there are certain meta-styles that are almost impossible for me, for example puzzles that have a picture component like November’s. Wordplay and number-based ideas come much more clearly. Plus/Addition/Mixing snapped immediately.

        Others have thoughts or biases?

Comments are closed.