Can’t Get Tu(n)e Out Of My Head: Find that Hum-dinger of a Song by Humming

Can't Get Tu(n)e Out Of My Head: Find that Hum-dinger of a Song by Humming

Remembering the name of a song when you can’t recall the lyrics can be frustrating. Worse still is when the tune keeps playing over and over in your head, like a broken, looping tape.

Fortunately, there are apps and websites out there that can help you find songs with partial lyrics, notes, or chords. There are even websites that can find a song by humming! Here’s how to use a song finder and other music-related apps to do just that.

A Word on Voice Recognition Technology

Arwork of megaphone producing speech bubble saying hello
A Word on Voice Recognition Technology

Before we list the apps, we also wanted to give a quick explanation of voice recognition technology, and how it can help you find a song by humming online.

Sometimes, when we’re talking about machine learning, an image of a starship crew seeking the help of a ship’s AI comes to mind. The crazy part about this technology, however, is that some of it is no longer in the realm of science fiction.

Voice recognition is becoming increasingly integrated into the apps and websites that we use today, including apps that allow you to hum a song to find them. To learn more, check out the best Google AI experiments to explore artificial intelligence. Now let’s talk about those apps. 

1. Midomi

Website screenshot

Midomi isn’t exactly a unique website. Like every other online vendor where you can search and buy music, Midomi lets you research genres, bands, and individual artists. You can also watch music videos, listen to song clips, or join the Midomi community to record your own music.

However, what makes Midomi very useful is that little box at the top of the home page that says “Click and sing or hum.”

Can you really find a song by humming? We tested the accuracy of this online application by humming “The Imperial March” from Star Wars. After clicking the box, the recording began.

  • The test included humming ten seconds of the song, with no words whatsoever.
  • When done, we clicked on the red microphone to search for results.
  • Even with my terrible singing rendition, one of our “guesses” was a perfect match.

As such, Midomi’s ability to find a song was pretty impressive.

To make sure that this wasn’t just luck, we tried the website again with a different tune—ten seconds of “Over the Rainbow,” originally sung by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz. After humming, the app processed our recording and provided accurate results.

If you were looking for convincing proof that Midomi worked, this is it. Apparently all you need is the general tune of the song, no title or lyrics required.

2. Musipedia

Website screenshot

If you’re a skilled musician, then you’ll probably know most of the notes in a particular song. You might even prefer to use notes to find a tune rather than humming along. If that describes you, then Musipedia might be a good fit.

Musipedia gives you the ability to play a tune with several note-related searches. These include:

  • Keyboard Search. This is done by notes.
  • Contour Search. These are the general note patterns of a song.
  • Rhythm Search. Through this, you can hunt for a song by rhythm.

When you use any of these features, Musipedia will convert the data into a general “note contour” line. The website then runs this line through its database, looking for a match.

After it finds a match, you’ll see a list of the songs in the search results. Each result includes the portion of the musical pattern that matched the tune that you played.

However—while exploring this website—we also noticed some major downsides to it.

  • Musipedia runs very slow. It isn’t exactly what we’d call a work of art by any web development standards, either.
  • There have been reports by its users on the Musipedia forums that the website is not returning results. This leaves its current functionality circumspect.
  • While Musipedia does offer the option to find songs by humming, this feature still requires Flash.
  • Unfortunately, Adobe Flash can be flakey, so chances are high that this feature will not work. Adobe also plans to phase out Flash very soon.
  • As such, the connection to this website is not secure.

3. AHA Music—Music Identifier Extension

Browser extension tool screenshot
AHA Music

Another way that you can find a song by humming or singing is by installing the AHA Music – Music Identifier Chrome extension.

The way it works is very simple.

  • If you’re watching a movie or TV show, click on the AHA Music Identifier icon in your browser.
  • If there’s a song playing in the background, the app will listen in and identify.
  • You can also click on the Spotify icon to open up the song on the Spotify website.

What’s really nice about this app is that it’s a great way to identify songs that are being played on a video streaming service, especially when song titles aren’t readily available.

Additionally, you can try using this extension as a hum song finder in a two-step process:

  • First, you can use a site like Online Voice Recorder to record yourself humming or singing.
  • Next, when you play it back, you can trigger the AHA Music Identifier extension.

However, we should note that the results for this two-step process were very mixed. While AHA did analyze the recording, if we sang too far off-key it couldn’t match the song.

So if you’re bad at singing, you might want to stick to Midomi. It’s much more reliable.

4. Shazam

Promo artwork for App

Lastly, we wanted to give a shout out to the website-and-app combo, Shazam.

While Shazam cannot find songs by humming if you hum off-tune (trust us, we tried), it does have one of the best music databases out there. With a couple of clicks, it can help you find a song in seconds either by listening in on a music recording or by typing the partial lyrics into the website.

If you’ve got a partial line stuck in your head—in this case, let’s just use the word “somewhere”—Shazam can instantly pull up all songs that contain that word or those lyrics, so long as you type it into the search bar.

If you click on the song page on the website, you’ll also get:

  • Artist and title info.
  • The full lyrics to that song.
  • An embedded YouTube video of that song, to allow you to listen to it.

If you have the app on your phone, you can simply turn it on while listening to a movie or TV show. The app will pull up the artist and title for you.

Download: Shazam for Android | iOS (Free)

Song Finder Apps That Didn’t Make the List

Website screenshot

Prior to us releasing this article, there was another song finder search engine that we wrote about called MelodyCatcher. MelodyCatcher was similar to Musipedia, in that it was a melody search engine that let you search for tunes by playing them on a virtual keyboard.

Unfortunately—while the melody catcher website is still live—the website has not been updated in several years. This leaves the site insecure and vulnerable to exploits.

As such, we can no longer recommend it.

What Is That Sound? Hum a Song to Find It

Few things are quite as frustrating as walking around all day with a tune stuck in your head. Fortunately, the next time this happens, you’ll know where you can go for answers. You’ll also know how to find a song by humming a tune or playing the notes!

Written by Editor

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