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Check out a collection of rounds with midi sound and printable images of the music here.

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One of the more popular contests run by Detroit's classical radio station WQRS, which ended 37 years of broadcasting in November 1997, was the "cheap pencil" contest: Pencils were sent as prizes to callers correctly identifying a composer, singer, or whatever. Quite often, these pencils arrived broken. To ensure safe delivery, then, some of us working to get classical music back on the air in southeastern Michigan have come up with a safer (and even cheaper) cheap pencil contest. An animated .gif of a pencil to the first person solving these puzzles.


The contest below has been over for some time. It was a Halloween contest with 13 pieces of music. I've left the contest in place in case you want to try your hand at it. If you want to test yourself, don't look below the stage lights image.
On the other hand, if you want to see what other midis might be available here, do check below the image!

The October contest features a frightening collection of works. The winner will be the respondent who identifies the greatest number from the set of 13 selections below.

WARNING:The dynamic range on these files is great. Mystery snipplet 9, in particular, begins with a very loud chord. If you can hear the softer notes, don't adjust your volume.

Many, many thanks to George Pollen of Hampshire, England, U.K. for the midi file used for mystery tune #3 and to Everett Kaser for mystery tune #2.

Just click on the sound icon to hear each of the thirteen selections:

Listen to the fileMystery Tune #1, a 3:08 excerpt from an orchestral work
Listen to the fileMystery Tune #2, a 1:57 piece for piano
Listen to the fileMystery Tune #3, a 6:35 orchestral work
Listen to the fileMystery Tune #4, a 3:57 vocal work
Listen to the fileMystery Tune #5, a :16 (eight measures) excerpt from an orchestral work
Listen to the fileMystery Tune #6, a 4:09 orchestral work
Listen to the fileMystery Tune #7, a 2:39 aria
Listen to the fileMystery Tune #8, a 2:10 excerpt from a piano work
Listen to the fileMystery Tune #9, a :46 excerpt from an orchestral work
Listen to the fileMystery Tune #10, a 3:29 aria
Listen to the fileMystery Tune #11, a 1:00 orchestral excerpt
Listen to the fileMystery Tune #12, a 2:44 piano work
Listen to the fileMystery Tune #13, a 10:59 orchestral excerpt (complete movt.)


The winner of the Halloween contest, with 9 tunes identified, was (to no one's surprise)

Pat Wright

The answers, in order, were:
  1. Moussorgky: Night on the Bare (Bald) Mountain
  2. Burgmüller, Ballade
  3. Saint-Saëns, Danse Macabre
  4. Schubert, Der Erlkönig
  5. Dukas, Sorcerer’s Apprentice
  6. Gounod, Funeral March of a Marionette
  7. Bizet, "En vain pour eviter les reponses ameres (the Tarot foretells death), from Carmen
  8. Liszt, Mephisto Waltz No.1
  9. Stravinsky, Hellish Dance of Katschei's minions from The Firebird
  10. Verdi, "Re dell' abisso affretati" (the witch Ulrica invokes the demon) from Un Ballo in Maschera
  11. Grieg, In the Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt
  12. Prokofiev, Suggestion diabolique
  13. Berlioz, 5th movement, Symphonie Fantastique
    The September contest had three mystery works. The pianist who played Liszt's La Campanella* and Feux Follets* was the great pianist Ferrucio Busoni (1866-1924), as identified by
    E. Girsch

    Prokofiev was improvising an arrangement of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade*, solved by
    R. Lewis

    The midi file was of the first and last movements (the Prelude and the Fugue) of Arthur Foote's Suite for Strings in E, solved by
    *Taken from a recording in the public domain.
    August's mystery tune was "Bist du bei mir", from the Anna Magdalena [Bach] Notebook, solved by
    E. Girsch.

    July's mystery tune was part of John Williams' score for Jurassic Park, solved by
    A. Davis

    June's mystery tune was another stumper. It was Liszt's Evocation à la Chapelle Sixtine for orchestra, first performed in Budapest in 1993 (versions for organ, piano, and duo piano are better known). The work incorporates a portion of the Allegri Miserere and Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus
    May's mystery tune was the Capriol Suite by Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine), based on "Thoinot Arbeau's" 16th-century dance treatise, the Orchesographie, solved by
    E. Girsch.

    April's mystery tune was the Pavane from Richard Strauss's Tanzsuite, based on the harpsichord works of F. Couperin, solved by
    M. Hurttgam.

    March's mystery tune was the longest fugue ever written: the last movement of Beethoven's Sonata Op.106 ("Hammerklavier"), solved by
    J. Calarco

    February's mystery tune was Mendelssohn's Overture Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, as quoted in Elgar's "Enigma Variations", solved by
    Pat & Ellen W.

    January's mystery tune was the first part of the second movement of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Sinfonietta on Russian Themes". It's an obscure work, but the folk tune used in this section is very familiar as the music for the oboe solo in the "Rondeau of the Princesses" in Stravinsky's Firebird. No one solved this one!
    December's mystery tune was the "Overture and Rondeau" to Purcell's Abdelazar" (the rondeau is more familiar as the theme used in Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra), solved by
    Pat & Ellen W.

    November's mystery tune was variation 5 of Beethoven's "Variations on 'God Save the King'", solved by
    Elizabeth G.

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  Suite Mysteries