Updated by Ryan Dube on September 4, 2017.
Have you ever found yourself on one of those tip of the tongue moments when you’ve fallen in love with a new song but you can’t remember the title or the lyrics?
Today, I’d like to cover a few solutions for the most common scenario music lovers face. It’s when you don’t know the title of the song or any of the lyrics of a song you heard on the radio, but you can hum or whistle the song just fine!
Voice Recognition Technology
There are a number of cutting edge computer technologies that have always fascinated me. Because they represent the entry into the realm of artificial intelligence. Two of those include image recognition and voice recognition.
There are a number of online apps that let you sing, hum or whistle a tune and it can accurately guess the title of the song. Images of science fiction movies, where starship crew members seek the help of the ship’s AI computer system come to mind. Well, it’s no longer science fiction — the following online apps do just that!
Midomi – The Best Song Recognition App Online
Midomi itself isn’t exactly a very special or unique website. Just like every other website where you can search for and purchase music online, Midomi lets you research music, bands and more.
You can watch music videos, listen to music clips or even join the Midomi community to record your own music. However, what makes Midomi so useful is the little box at the top of the first page that reads, “Click and Sing or Hum.”
Does it really work? I decided to test the accuracy of this online application by humming Losing My Religion, by R.E.M. After clicking the text box, the recording began.
I hummed the first 16 seconds or so of part of the song — no words whatsoever — just straight humming. I was absolutely convinced there was no way that this application could recognize the song without a single line of lyrics. When I was done I clicked on “Click to Stop” and waited for the results. This is what came up.
The top “guess” was a perfect match. Unbelievable. I figured it was a fluke — a completely lucky guess. So, I decided to try it again with a more difficult tune that wasn’t so modern – the first 15 seconds of Over the Rainbow, sung by Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz.
I chose this song because there is absolutely no way I can hum it perfectly in tune. After 15 seconds of forcing the recorder to suffer through my cracking and screeching as I attempted to hum the tune, I clicked stop and grinned. No way it’s going to know what that horrid noise was. The following were the results.
I have to say, if anything convinced me — this did. As far as I can tell, you only need to know the general tune of a song — no title and no lyrics required. This amazing little Midomi web app will remind you of the title after just a few seconds of humming.
Musipedia — The Encyclopedia for Musicians
If you are a musician, then you probably know most of the notes for a song, rather than just humming to tune. If that describes you then Musipedia may be the perfect song-finder service for you.
The website offers the ability to import music through your microphone (even singing or humming if you wish). Also, the site gives you the ability to play the tune with several note-related searches. These include a keyboard search (strictly notes), a contour search (the general note pattern of the song), using a flash piano and actually playing the song, or a rhythm search which you can use to hunt for a song by rhythm alone.
When you use any of these search features, the Musipedia engine will convert it into a general “note-contour” line, and algorithmically run through its library of music looking for a match.
When it finds matches, you’ll see a listing of all of the songs in the results. Each result includes the portion of the musical pattern that matched the tune you played. The listing also includes an embedded play button so you can hear it, a YouTube link to the video, and even a button you can use to buy the song or album on Amazon.
The website itself isn’t exactly a work of art by web development standards, but aesthetics aside it does do the job well!
NameMyTune — Manual Song Search
When you’re using a browser to hunt for a song via your microphone, the choices are very limited. Most apps that offer this feature are mobile apps, not web-based. However, one website with the sole purpose of finding the name of a song you have stuck in your head is NameMyTune.
NameMyTune has a very basic home page with a large square record button. When you press it, you’ll need to enable access to your microphone. To improve the odds of finding a match, you may also want to select the correct genre, and what era the song is from.
The difference between this service and the others covered above is that it isn’t an automated service that uses sound recognition to identify music. Instead, the song you upload gets stored in the library, and other visitors to the site will listen to your music and try to identify it.
Try your hand at this if you’re a music lover yourself and like the challenge of identifying obscure songs. Go to the section called “Listen To Other People’s Tunes”, pick your favorite genre, and listen to the music other visitors have recorded. If you recognize the song, click the I Know This Song button and offer your answer.
You’ll be doing the world a small service, and helping to finally identify that tune that’s stuck in someone’s head and driving them crazy.
AudioTag — Upload Your Music
The last site to cover that allows you to find a song title just by humming is AudioTag.info. This is another very basic site, but it offers a pretty handy service. Yes, the audio recognition feature is fully automated, so you don’t have to wait for someone to figure out your song title. However, the method of uploading the music is a little bit different. You have to record and upload your own audio file.
You can hum, sing, or play the tune on your guitar. So long as you have something similar to the original song recorded, it should work. I actually tested the feature by playing a song from Spotify and recording it through my microphone. Use the Choose File button on the page to select your file and upload it to the site. (You can also link to an online audio file if you have the URL).
When you’re ready just click Proceed.
In my case, the site came back in less than 60 seconds with the exact song title, the artist, the album, and the year of release.
Not too surprising considering I recorded the exact song. But why not give it a try by humming or singing that tune stuck in your head. See if the site can name that tune!
What Is That Song?
There is nothing quite as infuriating as walking around all day with a tune stuck in your head. Well, the next time this happens, you know from where you can get an answer!
Do you know any other websites or web apps that can identify songs just the tune? Share your own resources in the comments section below!
Image Credit: Lorelyn Medina via Shutterstock.com