Listen With Others

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Listener No 4642, Music Box: A Setter’s Blog by tnap

Posted by Listen With Others on 7 February 2021

I guess the normal setter’s blog would go about explaining how the theme emerged and how the setter cunningly compiled the elements of the theme into the grid and clues. Unfortunately, this blog is more of an apology.

I produced Music Box nearly 3 years ago in a burst of creative energy that included my previous Listener submission as well (Triumvirate; No 4599). But such is the pipeline of Listeners these days that it has taken this long firstly to get submitted and then to get published. As a result, I have virtually no memory of ever producing it (hopefully the result of a busy life rather than dementia), and my notes (no pun intended) from the time have long gone. Of course I should have thought about the Listen With Others setter’s blog back then, but I prevaricated and never got round to writing anything.

It was actually quite a shock to receive Roger’s e-mail last Saturday (yes, I got one week’s notice of publication), and it took me nearly 2 hours to re-solve my own crossword to check the proof! And that was with knowing the theme and hence the discarded letters. So I’m guessing that Music Box is going to be on the hard side even by Listener standards. So good luck to all those who embark on that journey.

The vetters enquired about the provenance of the tune that I used. There are a great many musical versions and variations of the ‘Ring-a-ring o’ Roses’ tune. Again, my memory is cloudy, but I do recall using Wikipedia. Looking at it now, I can see that there is a version called ‘Marlborough’ which looks like the basis for my version. However, for the purposes of the crossword, it clearly needed to be transposed to C (no sharps or flats); have syncopation removed; and have additional notes added so that it scanned with the usual lyrics (eg as in Brewer’s). I must also have modified the final cadence slightly to make it more familiar (to me at least). Whilst there is therefore no authoritative source for my version of the tune, I hope that wouldn’t have been too much of an issue: the nursery rhyme is so well-known, and the letters C, B, A and G are exclusively used for the ‘pegs’.
 

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