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Solutions for Act IV Scene 2 - Scales

An attempt to play this piece of music reveals that 1) it's perhaps the worst sounding musical puzzle ever notated (and perhaps even just the worst musical puzzle ever notated judging by the solve rate) 2) these are very non-standard scales, with multiple repetitions of some pitches 3) the expressive markings are thrown in seemingly at random.

Perhaps it's easiest to deal with the expressive markings first: reading them in order through the music reveals "poco andante rit. sfz obbligato nat. sfz cresc. obbligato dim. espr.". As is apt to do in puzzles with meaningless strings of words, taking the first letters of these reveals "PARSONSCODE" which refers to a method of classifying melodies based on their pitch movement. Essentially U, D or R are written whenever the tune moves Up, moves Down or else Repeats the same tone, respectively.

Now in the main piece of 'music' there are 15 scales (separated by crotchet rests), which happens to be the same number of quavers at the top of the page. It's logical to infer some sort of connection between each of these scales and quavers.

The quavers themselves have an interesting arrangement: they are descendingly sorted, implying that their order doesn't have an impact on the puzzle mechanic, and more strikingly they are arranged into a strange tree-like structure.

Each scale gives a particular Parson's Code that instructs how one should traverse the tree from the corresponding note. For example, the first scale has code UUURDDRD, which from the first high C takes one up three levels, across (here we treat R as movements on the same level, moving right - admittedly this is different to what the R means in Parson's Code, but we hope the changed context is necessarily clear and clearly necessary) once, down the right branch of the tree twice, to the right again once and down to the left low A. This tells us the first note we want is an A.

Repeating the above traversals of the tree for each of the 15 scales and each of the 15 notes creates the traversals:

  • uuurddrd
  • uuurddd
  • uurdrd
  • uurdrrrd
  • uurdd
  • urrd
  • uuurdrdd
  • uurdrd
  • uuurddrrd
  • urrd
  • uurdrrrd
  • uuurddrrrd
  • uuurdrdd
  • urrrurdrrd*
  • ud

Which gives the melody: A C E A+ B E C B C+ E C C+ F# D A (where + indicates the higher of the two C's or A's). This is an excerpt of the melodic line of "STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN", which is certainly quite a scale itself.

*This traversal contains three useless R's which were left in from a previous iteration of the puzzle and managed to slip their way through the final checks on the puzzle. These didn't affect solubility, although they may have been misleading - we're sorry.

The answer is: stairwaytoheaven