An artist recently painted this odd looking mural in my hometown. He called it 'Chromatic Tones'. Most people just walk by it, but I suspect it has a deeper meaning. I have looked at it, increasingly frustrated, over the past few days, but I can't make anything out of it!

enter image description here

Can you decode it?
If you're stuck, I suggest calling a friend!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I like it very much, but I'm surprised it was answered within the hour! $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Jun 10, 2015 at 12:08

1 Answer 1


The mural reads:

It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.

Things to note:

The dots come in groups of one to four of the same colour. There is never more than one group of a colour per 3×3 panel. There's a red dot in every panel. If there are more groups, they are orange, yellow and so on. Only two panels have black dots. The top left square is always empty.

The mural is encoded like this:

Each 3×3 panel represents a word. Each group of dots represents a letter. The letters are ordered by the colours of the rainbow (ROY G BIV) plus black for the eighth letter. A letter is described by the number of dots per group and their position inside the panel: The panel grid resembles a telephone keypad, and the hint supports this. The top left key (1) doesn't have any letters assigned and the only occurrence of four letters is in the bottom left square, one of the two keys (7 and 9) with four letters assigned.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Your solution is the first line of the book Nineteen Eighty-Four. $\endgroup$ Jun 10, 2015 at 9:05
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ While the solution is accepted and correct (how did you get it that fast?), I find the given answer not all-too-easy to read and understand. I think a step-wise example of how one "box" is completely decoded would add a lot to this answer. For now, I -1 tis answer despite it being correct. I will revert this vote to a +1 on edits. $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Jun 10, 2015 at 13:38
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @BmyGuest Let's take the first 3x3 box: We start with the Red dots (since Red is first in ROYGBIV color sequence) which are in the spot corresponding to 4 on a phone keypad. Conventionally, 4 maps to the letters GHI on phones. Since there are three dots, that indicates the third letter, I, is the first letter of the word. Next is Orange. One dot on 8 (TUV) means the second letter is T. Combine to get the first word: IT. Each 3x3 box is another word. $\endgroup$
    – Sabre
    Jun 10, 2015 at 14:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "Chromatic Tones" is a clue since it's a code based on colors and a touch-tone keypad. $\endgroup$ Jun 10, 2015 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Sabre: Thanks. However, I meant MOehm should edit such info into his solution. $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Jun 10, 2015 at 16:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.