Solution to Unchained
by Brian Chen
Solvers are presented with a list of blanks and a list of words.
We can assemble the words into lyrics that fit into the blanks, with slashes corresponding to line breaks (sometimes approximately, as sources differ on where “line breaks” go in lyrics) and other punctuation preserved. If words are capitalized because they’re proper nouns or variations of “I”, their capitalization is preserved, but the capitalization of words at the beginning of lines is not preserved. For Puzzle 3, for example, this gives:
- ‘neath the halo of a streetlamp / [I turned my collar] to the cold and damp
- [I’ve been staring at] the edge of the water / long as I can remember / never really knowing why
- her mind is [Tiffany-twisted] / she got the Mercedes Benz
- [if there’s something strange] / in your neighborhood / who you gonna call?
In addition, some words are bracketed in each line. The key observation solvers must make is that in each line, the bracketed words consist of five syllables and five notes in total, and the notes have exactly two distinct pitches. Solvers who make any attempt to transcribe the notes of the lines should be able to make this observation fairly quickly, or they might observe that the lengths of the bracketed fragments are broadly similar and happen upon counting syllables by trying different ways to measure their length. The title is also a very faint nod to this, referencing the song “Unchained Melody” to suggest that solvers might look at the melody (in addition to loosely describing the way the words in the lyrics have been scrambled.)
Those five notes can be translated into five-bit binary by treating the low pitch as 0 and the high pitch as 1, and then to letters via A = 1, B = 2, etc. Doing this gives:
|‘neath the halo of a streetlamp / [I turned my collar] to the cold and damp||00011||C|
|[I’ve been staring at] the edge of the water / long as I can remember / never really knowing why||10101||U|
|her mind is [Tiffany-twisted] / she got the Mercedes Benz||10010||R|
|[if there’s something strange] / in your neighborhood / who you gonna call?||00101||E|
The answer, CURE, can be read off one letter per lyric fragment.