M Puzzle: Stairway to Heaven

by Rebecca Christianson

The notes are:

Highest pitch in Queen of the Night's famous aria, 3 8vb
Famously high note, highest in common repertoire. Every soprano in existence knows this is a high F, third octave above middle c. 3 8vb says to take that down three octaves, which lands the F in the octave below middle c.
0.909s Mi in fixed do, first octave below middle c
In fixed do solfege, do is always c, so mi is e.
0.6s 174.614
This is a frequency, which corresponds to the F below middle c
0.6s If this were sharp, it would be the devil in music above answer for the twelfth clue
Devil in music (diablo in musica) is the term from the renaissance for the tritone interval, which was considered to be so dissonant as to obviously be evil. A tritone is an augmented fourth, the twelfth clue gives you D below middle c, so tritone above is a G#, so this is a G.
0.6s the answer for the second clue is dominant to this
The dominant pitch for a key is the fifth of the scale, so E (the second clue) is dominant to A. Which A you choose is a little arbitrary, but the most common leading behavior is the dominant below the tonic, so hopefully people will choose that one, if not, its not a big deal, it shouldn't change the answer at all.
0.6s absolutely nothing
It's a rest, of course
0.6s MIDI 55
MIDI pitches all have numbers. This one is G below middle C.
0.6s lowest note on a bassoon, 2 8va
Lowest note on a bassoon is Bb, in the third octave below middle c. 2 8va is two octaves up, which also puts this in the first octave below middle c.
0.6s orchestra tuning note, 8vb
Oboe plays the orchestra tuning A in the first octave above middle c. One octave lower puts it in the octave below middle c.
0.6s twelfth root of 2 times the answer to the second clue
Half steps correspond to a frequency multiplier of the twelfth root of two in the equal tempered system currently in use. Half step above E (clue two) is F.
0.6s 8vb of *this* (link in attached gif)
This is an oboe fingering of middle C. One octave below is the c below middle C.
0.6s most common clarinet, lowest note, concert pitch
Most common clarinet is a Bb clarinet, and its lowest note is a D in concert pitch (written, it's a different note, since Bb refers to the written key of the clarinet).
0.6s if this were sharped, it would be the leading tone for the answer to clue 7
leading tone is the note half step below, so since clue 7 is a G, its leading tone is a Fsharp, so this is an F.
0.6s if the answer to the third clue is shadj, this is shuddha rishabh
This is from a north indian system of music which was written to be used on european harmoniums, which were incorporated into traditional indian music. It is a normal movable-do solfege type system, where shadj is do. A simple web search shows that shuddha rishabh is one whole step above shadj, so if shadj is F (clue 3) this is G.
0.909s in a dominant seventh chord, first inversion, where the lowest note is the answer to clue twelve, this is the third note from the bottom
Annoyingly, first inversion of a chord is no inversion whatsoever, so the dominant seventh chord from the bottom up, starting on D is D F# A C, the third note from the bottom is of course A.
this one is your answer
This one is the answer
2.727s lowest note on a violin
Lowest note on a violin is the open G string, which of course sounds a G.

This is an excerpt from the Harbison canon that is on the glass panels of the railing on the second floor of the music library (hence the title). Basic music theory, history, trivia knowledge plus some googleing should get this whole list. The tempo marking at the beginning any musician should know is beats per minute; if you calculate what each duration in seconds corresponds to, you should get what the rhythm is.

The notes as they appear here should actually be: F E F G A (rest) G Bflat A F C D F G A (answer) G which is the first phrase accompanying the words "Veni, mentes tuorum visita." The missing note is a B flat quarter note.


The relevant training is HALVE ("Doctoring"). Halving a quarter note gives an eighth note B flat.