Muller Month Music Meta, April 2024

Title: “Unleash Your Inner Diva” by Pete Muller, Mack Meller, and Andrew White
Prompt: The meta for this puzzle is a musical term.

puzzle 9ish; meta 12 mins with unexpected help! See below (Matt)



Round 4 of this Season’s M+MMM, which was an elegant two-stepper. The first step wasn’t too tough: each of the five theme entries concealed the name of a color:

17-A: [Place to go at night?] – CHAMBER POT. Amber.
23-A: [1991’s “I’m Your Fan” for Leonard Cohen, for example] = TRIBUTE ALBUM. Teal.
40-A: [2003 prequel nominated for a “Worst Remake or Sequel” Razzie] = DUMB AND DUMBERER. Umber.
51-A: [“No need to sell it any further!”] = WHERE DO I SIGN?. RED. Fun entry.
64-A: [Particle made up of up, up, down, charm, and anti-charm, e.g.] = PENTAQUARK. I have no idea what any of that means but it worked on all the downs so I’m going with it. Aqua.

Now what? First thing I noticed was that the first letters of those five colors spell ATURA. Not a word in and of itself, but if you put an N on the front and a L on the end you get NATURAL, which is a music term. I mentally gave this a 50% chance of being the meta answer. Voice-over: “It wasn’t.”

After a couple of minutes my 6-year-old son Tilghman entered my home office and grabbed the puzzle from my hands. Without any special encouragement from me he’s developed an interest in writing crosswords, to the point where he has his own Puzzles folder on my laptop (he’s written about 8 but they don’t quite follow all the rules yet…).

So I start explaining the meta to him and we discuss a few things, and I show him the colors and the ATURA and how I think it will lead to NATURAL as the meta answer. He looks at the paper, a little confused, and asks “Is ATURA a color?” I responded with something like “No, there’s no color called ATURA” which was close enough for the klaxons in my brain to start signaling that we had a winner. I was 99% sure that was a music term and I thought it was a word that could apply to a singing voice. It was:

So these are all COLORs whose first letters spell ATURA, leading to the meta answer.

Fun and novel concept, calling to mind their equally simple-but-tricky BR AND Y puzzle from earlier this year. 4.60 stars.

Also: shout-out to our Meta-Maestro for hosting the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament this past weekend for Will Shortz, who is recovering from a stroke (but still attended and hosted some parts of the event). Sending good vibes to Will for a speedy recovery. Here’s Pete in emcee mode:

4.60 stars. Subtle and unique mechanism.

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

9 Responses to Muller Month Music Meta, April 2024

  1. Eric H says:

    After I finished the grid, the AQUA in PENTAQUARK jumped right out at me. I then quickly saw the other “hidden” colors.

    But I missed the A/T/U/R/A letters. I looked up COLOR in Wikipedia to see what music sense it might have, and that’s when I saw COLORATURA. I’m not an opera fan, but I recognized the term, and I knew worked perfectly with the “Diva” part of the puzzle’s title. So that’s what I submitted.

    Then, I almost immediately started thinking that the term was a bit obscure for my imagined average MMMM solver. (I would expect that more of us listen to pop music than classical.)

    I’m happy to see that I was right, and that my 2024 streak continues. Fun puzzle. Nice write-up, too.

  2. Pete Muller says:

    Thanks Matt!

    Still recovering from the tournament this weekend…

    301 correct this month.

    Go Tilghman!

  3. sharkicicles says:

    I submitted TONE COLOR/TIMBRE. Never had heard of the actual answer but got the colors right away and googling “music color’ gave me about 50 responses with that and zero of the actual answer. Not the puzzle’s fault, just my fault for not having any knowledge in that domain.

  4. J Beezy says:

    My partner and I both know some music theory and have played music for a long time, and neither of us has heard of this term.

  5. billkatz says:

    I know the term mostly from my love of PDQ Bach, who wrote for “off-coloratura”

  6. Kimbo says:

    I got the first step and came up with ATURA which a Google search showed nothing for. Then I thought I needed to put the colors in spectrum order. That yielded nothing, and I got no further. This one stumped me because I did not know the term COLORATURA.

  7. Adam Rosenfield says:

    Somehow I’d never heard the term COLORATURA (or perhaps I forgot it), despite playing clarinet in my schools’ bands and orchestras for 9 years. I ended up submitting NATURAL, which had a weak click, but I felt like I was still missing something; I was disappointed (but not entirely surprised) when I didn’t show up on the leaderboard.

    I thought maybe there was some hair color meaning behind there, and perhaps ‘natural’ could be considered a hair color too (in addition to the usual musical meaning). I couldn’t really find any famous divas known for those particular hair colors, though.

    Other red herrings: Weezer’s Teal Album, Taylor Swift’s Red album, and of course the band Aqua, famous for “Barbie Girl”. There are several artists/albums named Amber, and an album Umber by the band Bitch Magnet. None of those led anywhere of course.

  8. Richard K says:

    I’m not a musician, but for some reason, this one opened right up for me as soon as I saw A-T-U-R-A. Also many thanks to Pete for stepping in to help Will with introductions and announcements at ACPT. Those of us who participated online appreciated the occasional off-mike messages addressed right to us!

  9. Betty Spaghetti says:

    Being an actual coloratura, this one jumped right out for me.

Comments are closed.