What a conductor gives to an out-of-tune player?

You perform this in Spring

Sung by musical miners?

Those behind bars keeps tabs on this

Sounds something like a big colourful Spanish bird

A pretty endearing advance

Loosen your shoes

Find a French fishy ratio

A teenager causing trouble?

Scottish cooking method

Sliced in private

A little bed made of bones

A long lasting weird religion?

A cereal, relatively speaking

Exact copy of Warhammer people


  1. Start solving clues.
  2. See what the answers have in common: The more you get the more obvious it will be what connects them.
  3. When you get the connection look at the title. It will give you a hint to the final answer.
  4. Give (a) the answers to the clues and (b) the final answer, which is a well-known phrase.

Extra kudos

Once you understand the connection, it is possible to obtain some of the answers without fully understanding their clue. Extra kudos to you if you convincingly explain all the clues as well as solve them.


I think that this is a tough challenge but, knowing you puzzlers, you may prove me wrong! If it proves absolutely impossible then let me know in the comments and I'll give some extra hint(s). Take heart - Once you get any two of the clues, you will be able to see the connection and the whole thing will become much easier.

I have been a little bit evil by trying to start you off on a false trail (This is in the clues. There are no tricks in the instructions etc). Once you start to solve things you will see through my impishness and be able to ignore it.

Co-operation is welcome if puzzlers want to solve this together. I don't mind either way. Partial answers will gain up-votes and help others to give further partial answers.

I had to omit one tag because it would have given away the pattern that you are trying to find.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Not a serious answer, but for "What a conductor gives to an out-of-tune player?" I can only think of "A scowl and a tapping foot while he wastes the orchestra's time.". But then my experiences with orchestra may differ from yours. :) $\endgroup$
    – Kingrames
    Aug 12, 2015 at 12:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Kingrames - Haha! Another non-serious answer is "a kick up the a---"Let's be kind and assume it's an amateur orchestra! $\endgroup$ Aug 12, 2015 at 12:45
  • $\begingroup$ Having seen the answer - what a great puzzle! $\endgroup$
    – A E
    Aug 14, 2015 at 7:37

4 Answers 4


With much credit to the commenters, the answers are all

rearrangements of the letters ACELNOTU:

What a conductor gives to an out-of-tune player? - TONAL CUE (Gordon K)
You perform this in Spring - CLEAN OUT (Lampost42)
Sung by musical miners? - COAL TUNE
Those behind bars keeps tabs on this - ALE COUNT (Lampost42)
Sounds something like a big colourful Spanish bird - EL TOUCAN (Bailey M)
A pretty endearing advance - CUTE LOAN (Gordon K)
Loosen your shoes - TO UNLACE
Find a French fishy ratio - LOCATE NU (GentlePurpleRain)
A teenager causing trouble? - ACNE LOUT (corwin_)
Scottish cooking method - NAE CLOUT (GentlePurpleRain)
Sliced in private - CUT ALONE
A little bed made of bones - ULNAE COT
A long lasting weird religion? - AEON CULT (Gordon K)
A cereal, relatively speaking - UNCLE OAT (Gordon K)
Exact copy of Warhammer people - TAU CLONE (Gordon K)

Final Answer:

Literally no idea - NOT A CLUE (Gordon K)


TONAL CUE: a cue is an instruction or hint, and tonal refers to pitch (or tone; being in tune).
CLEAN OUT: Spring cleaning
COAL TUNE: Miners mine coal, and a tune is a melody, or song.
ALE COUNT: Bartenders (behind bars) keep a tab (count) how many beers (ales) patrons consume.
EL TOUCAN: A toucan is a colorful bird, and el is the Spanish masculine "the".
CUTE LOAN: An advance is another word for a loan, and endearing is a synonym for cute.
TO UNLACE: Shoes are often secured with laces.
LOCATE NU: Poisson's ratio is denoted with the Greek letter nu, and poisson is French for fish.
ACNE LOUT: Teenagers often have acne, and a lout is an ill-mannered, troublemaking person.
NAE CLOUT: In Scotland, dumplings are often cooked in the modern way without cloth, or in Scots, nae clout.
CUT ALONE: Cut means slice, and something done in private is done alone.
ULNAE COT: Ulnae is the plural of ulna, one of the bones of the forearm, and a cot is a small bed.
AEON CULT: Aeon is an alternate spelling of eon, which is a very long time, and a weird religion is a cult.
UNCLE OAT: Oats are a cereal grain, and if one is your uncle, he is a relative!
TAU CLONE: A clone is an exact copy, and in the Warhammer universe, there is a race known as the Tau.


Some of the phrasings made me think of

the ever-classic rhyming answers,

so here's a stab at some of them:

What a conductor gives to an out-of-tune player?

A chance to retune with a trombone tone

Sliced in private

Sounds like they peeled concealed

A little bed made of bones

What smaller bed is there, than a rib crib? (Thank you for the idea, Bailey M!)

A long lasting weird religion?

I'm not too sure, but calling it a habitual ritual makes the most sense to me.

Exact copy of Warhammer people

While unfortunately unfamiliar with Warhammer, a browsing of the wiki makes me guess... drone clone?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I suppose a little bed made of bones could be a 'rot cot', if this turns out to be the correct answer. $\endgroup$
    – Bailey M
    Aug 12, 2015 at 15:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Ooh, that might be good! The only other answer I could think of for that involved 'bed', so it didn't seem likely. $\endgroup$
    – Vance
    Aug 12, 2015 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ Not quite there - no rhymes I'm afraid but you are definitely onto something. (+1). The nearest so far is Vance's guess at, "A little bed made of bones". Also your try at the out of tune player. Getting warm! $\endgroup$ Aug 12, 2015 at 17:01
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ A cute pursuit worked so nicely for A pretty endearing advance... $\endgroup$ Aug 12, 2015 at 17:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Goinghamateur - Ooh - so close! (+1) No need to rhyme though. $\endgroup$ Aug 12, 2015 at 17:39

Partial answer

Inspired by @Vance's answer:

Each line refers to

a duplicated word:

What a conductor gives to an out-of-tune player?

a note note (an area to improve with his musical notation)

You perform this in Spring

a March march (a certain type of music performed in the third month)

...unfortunately, I can't find answers for any of the rest. Can anyone else think of any?

  • $\begingroup$ Not a repeated word but still on track (+1). I'm beginning to see how tough the initial threshold is. Once someone gets past that, it's plain sailing. $\endgroup$ Aug 12, 2015 at 17:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK, you should probably add that to the question itself, for those who might come later, and won't read these comments. $\endgroup$ Aug 12, 2015 at 18:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK To clarify: You are saying the idea of "pairs of words" is right, but none of the pairs that have been guessed so far are right? $\endgroup$ Aug 12, 2015 at 18:28

Time for a puzzle review! This assumes you've already read the answer; here be spoilers.

It's great that people worked together to solve this puzzle. It's fun to participate in a group. This worked for the puzzle because even after you know the mechanism, each clue is interesting to solve. Moreover, you can start solving the clues and figure out the mechanism as you go. The clues are tricky, but once you get the right answer, you know it's right.

The puzzle reminds me a lot of the MIT Mystery Hunt 2015 puzzle "MiT MYSTERY HUNT", which also gives clues to anagrams of a single phrase. There, the phrase to anagram is longer and explicitly signaled. I guess you're a fan of this mechanic from your previous puzzle, though it's a bit unfortunate that one might have metagamed you using it again.

The final answer phrase is nice for being snappy and thematic, and also using common letters that lead to many phrases. I'd go for a longer phrase though to reduce the power of anagram solver brute forcing and give more potential answers to clue. As is, some of the answers felt a bit contrived.

The final extraction was cute. I'm a fan of recursion, and the title is a natural place for a meta-cluephrase. I like that what you get from the clues is simply the method, and not something from the answers. This saves having an extraction step, which too often are artificial and get solvers stuck. On the other hand, it means one can extract the final answer with only a fraction of the answers. The puzzle does ask for the both the clue answers and the final answer, but this does lose elegance compared to having a single final answer.

I'm not sure the solving instructions were needed. In particular, figuring out to look at the title would have been a nice moment if not given outright. But I guess it's good to err on the clearer side. It is nice to see a puzzle solved without hints added after posting.

Given that the order of the clues and answer is arbitrary, convention is to signal this by listing in alphabetical order, either by clue or by answer. I prefer the second because it narrows down that pesky last clue you're stuck on. The title should be formatted like the clue (first word capitalized) since it serves the same function.

  • $\begingroup$ This should be a meta post $\endgroup$
    – reo katoa
    Aug 12, 2015 at 21:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @reokatoa Leaving an answer on the puzzle is the preferred method for puzzle feedback. $\endgroup$
    – xnor
    Aug 12, 2015 at 21:57
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the review. It is great to get feedback. It helps the recipient to improve. The reason I didn't use alphabetical order was the false trail that I mentioned. The first five were deliberately intended to look like sound/musical clues and thus lead people to think that the whole puzzle had a musical theme. $\endgroup$ Aug 12, 2015 at 22:08
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK Eh, not a fan of that false trail. It feels cheap as a solver to get stuck in following a pattern that's actually there. $\endgroup$
    – xnor
    Aug 12, 2015 at 22:11
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ +1 If more people left feedback like this, I feel like it would drastically improve the overall quality of puzzles on this site. I would have loved to have this kind of feedback for some of my puzzles. $\endgroup$ Aug 13, 2015 at 2:57

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.