Listen With Others

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Systematic by Dave

Posted by shirleycurran on 12 February 2021

We haven’t solved a crossword by Dave before. Looking at Dave Hennings’ database, I see that he hasn’t set one for quite some time, so we really don’t know what to expect. The Numpties are bickering at once. He is convinced that we have to draw three pretty coloured strips alongside our clues and separately record those that add a letter, those that lose one and those that change one (and Oh my, is he grumbling about all three devices being permitted in a single crossword!) I, on the basis that these letters are going to spell out only a title and its author, am happy with my single line, so that I can set to at once, scanning the clues to see whether this ‘setter of yore’ qualified for the Oenophile Elite before I was even solving Listener crosswords.
I find a ‘crush’ in ‘Virgin admits love, offering short plant for a crush (10)’ and we later work out that that clue gives us a MOLE (shortened to MOL) in MOLENDINARY (MARY around O and LENDIN[g]) but I have to read to the very end of the clues before I find ‘Elder rani arranged unlimited beer (5)’ We drop an R and anagram ANI with the[b]EE[r], giving AINEE. And it isn’t just unlimited beer, ‘Cult’s liquor to be produced endlessly (4)’ By the time we solve that clue, we are short of an E on SHAKESPEARE, so we decide it has to be Celt’s liquor and we remove the last letter of BREED to give us BREE. With unlimited beer and Celt’s liquor produced endlessly (no doubt a quality malt) Dave clearly earns his ticket. Cheers!
And yes, ‘he who is always right’ wasn’t this time, and we haven’t solved for long before my single line of extra letters gives a fairly convincing SHAKESPEARE and enough letters alongside the across clues to suggest MEASURE FOR MEASURE. Now we understand why we couldn’t fit STINGRAY, IRRADIANT, SCAMPERED and EMOLUMENT into the available spaces. However, we still have to find several measures that we can reduce to their short forms.
We slowly tease out GRAY, WATT, VOLT, MOLE, FARAD, TONNE, CANDELA, NEWTON, LUMEN, AMPERE, RADIAN and SECOND, Actually, we initially opt for ARE in 1d with FANFARES becoming FANFAS but ARE isn’t an IS abbreviation and we can’t suss the wordplay of ‘Always making piano loud, piper with horns shows off musical flourishes (6)’. Of course, two Ps have to become F so we have Pan Parades becoming FANFARADES and surprisingly, there is the word in Chambers, defined as ‘musical flourishes’. I’m not surprised that it has taken Dave eighteen years to find all those words that could slyly incorporate a measure. Engineering this grid must have been quite a challenge. Thank you, Dave.

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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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Music Box by tnap

Posted by shirleycurran on 5 February 2021

Our first reaction, after seeing a circular grid (which is already a prompt that the theme must have something to do with a ring or a circle, as that is an editorial requirement for a circular crossword) was relief that there was no mention of misprints or extra wordplay letters, but then we read that the radial entries were to be jumbled (well – ‘entered in an order to be determined’ – that looked like a jumble to me) and were going to produce a fifth letter that was going to help spell out some of the tune’s lyrics. That was not all – there was an entire ring of unclued thematic entries. Quite a challenge even if the other Numpty was already filling in HORTENSIO, SKI BUMS and SCIROCCO as I hunted through the clues to check that tnap retained his seat amongst the elitist Listener setter oenophiles.

Oh dear, oh dear! I got through the entire set of clues despairing of his membership and it was only after completing our solve that we saw that ‘Irritation initially suppressed loathing in some parts (6)’ We took the B off BUGGING and found an unusual word UGGING – we can stretch it, I think and raise our GIN (with a bit of an “Ugg” of protest). Cheers, tnap.

I don’t know how solvers with just pencil and paper manage crosswords like this. When we had rather a lot of potential letters from THICK, BOWIE, CRUST, HOHUM, GOONS, FROGS and CONWY, I was able to enter them into TEA which suggested HAWTHORN as the unclued word and prompted us that ATISHOO would appear in the letters we were not entering. Penny-drop moment. With ATISHOO ATISHOO WE ALL FALL DOWN now established, we were able to find TOYON, LOQUAT, REMONTANT, MOSS and LOQUAT but imagine my surprise to learn that those are all types of rose!

I should think tnap began setting this one by putting the ‘letter pegs’ in his grid, then just stretching his tune just a little to fit in the letters of those lyrics. He must have had quite a struggle to find the remaining three letters of each radial that would spell out real words (OK – we’ll accept that the odious jumbles were the only way.)

We needed to confirm that we had the right notes and Wiki led us on a fine goose chase with a number of versions but the other Numpty finally located a Marlborough version that approximately fitted, and the notes we had played a tune that sounded fine. I suppose, with the black death, there were a lot of people doing the ‘Atishoo, we all fall down’ thing all over the regions (Ed. Surely it’s topical?) and singing in a range of off-key versions. Thank you tnap.


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Listener No 4642, Music Box by tnap

Posted by Dave Hennings on 5 February 2021

Last year’s tnap offering was all about US Army division nicknames with a bit of maths thrown in for good measure. Before that, we had Einstein’s “Raffiniert ist der Herrgott, aber boshaft ist er nicht”. This week, a circular grid with a musical theme.

Click on image to go to Adam’s Music Box

Before I go any further, I should mention this week’s guest animation from Adam Vellender which you can link to and listen to by clicking the image on the right. Many thanks to him for clarifying this puzzle’s theme (no pun intended).

On with the puzzle, and I don’t think I’m giving too much away if I say that I found this quite a challenge. All the radial clues were five letters, but one got ditched and the others got jumbled. Where to start? Well the ring clues were normal, so that’s where.

3 Aloofness shown by sleepy creatures neglecting bedroom (3) looked like it should be ICE with BR for bedroom missing from something. I was about to move on to the next clue when DORMICE – DORM came to mind and three letters got slotted into the grid. 29 came next with KIB(e) in SUMS for SKI BUMS — I don’t think I’ve ever come across them in a crossword before.

31 He’s after Kate’s sister or he’s into Dotty (9) with its obvious reference to The Taming of the Shrew and HORTENSIO was soon discovered. A sudden rush to the end of the ring clues gave RUGGY and GIP, and a grand total of 27 cells filled… exactly a quarter of the grid!

The radials of course were a different thing altogether. A lot of pencilling in of answers. RATOO, NIMBI, SEGNO and ASCUS started everything off nicely. After that, things slowed down, although Spike and Harry at 13 led to the GOONS. [The Goon Show is available in the UK on BBC Radio 4 Extra, with some of the episodes produced by Charles Chilton, he of Journey into Space fame — currently available in the UK on BBC Radio 4 Extra! But I digress….]

Once the grid had a light dusting of possible entries, it was a case of working my way round the grid, using the radial clues to slowly identify the missing ring entries. Getting FOSSILISES and UGGING certainly helped, as did GUIRO which I should have got earlier but didn’t because I failed to think of GIRO as a banking system.

It looked as though HAWTHORN might be lurking in the unclued ring together with MOSS before it, but they didn’t really help with much at this stage. Hats off to anyone who got 11-Ring early on in the solve: My Scottish cousin’s first dealing with chemistry, for example (10) leading to CONSCIENCE [C(ousin) + ON + SCIENCE, an expression of surprise north of the border].

And so, after a very long solve, the grid was complete with the unclued ring revealing MOSS, HAWTHORN, LOQUAT & REMONTANT, all roses, and the dropped letters from the Radials Atishoo, atishoo, we all fall down.

Favourite clue was 6-Ring One put up at Chrissie’s regularly does cocaine (6) which had nothing to do with, for example, Christine Keeler, but Australian Christmas DECCIE.

So the tune was Ring a Ring o’ Roses, supposedly about the Great Plague, but certainly a children’s nursery rhyme (here in the UK at least). All that was required was to find the “pegs” in the grid that would play the tune. Well… were the pegs the letter I? Unlikely as there weren’t enough of them. How about the letter O? That didn’t work either. Eventually, after about 20 minutes, all the Gs and Cs pointed me in the right direction.

I pottered over to one of the piano keyboard sites and played all the Gs, Cs, As and Bs. I can’t really say it sounded like what we sang as kids, but it was near enough for me to be happy that I got there. Wiki indicates that there are a number of variations of the tune.

Good fun, thanks, tnap. And thanks again to Adam for his animation.

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L4642 ‘Music Box’ by tnap

Posted by Encota on 5 February 2021

Beautiful construction! Not a tune I recognised but, hey, still unambiguous.

Here’s my attempt in MuseScore, a great piece of free software, it seems to me. I won’t embarrass myself by sharing the effort I created in GarageBand, though – it sounded like a stunted Stylophone solo. MuseScore lets you create MP3s from scores, of course – though it seems I can’t share MP3s on WordPress for ‘security reasons’. So count yourself lucky to be spared that 🙂

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

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