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I’ve heard a piece of music, but I don’t know its name or who performs it. How can I find this information?

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I’m not sure how this questions fits the guidelines here (especially as I had to stretch a tag meaning quite a bit to a more or less appropriate find), but I’d rather be sorry than safe. –  Édouard Apr 29 at 20:19
    
Probably should be made into a community wiki in case other people can add to the list of services or new ones come out. –  Dom Apr 29 at 22:36
    
@Dom I hesitated when I wrote the question, but I’m not accustomed to Community Wiki answers yet. Oh, well, better be sorry than safe for that also. –  Édouard Apr 29 at 23:03
    
When I was a kid, my dad would take me along to the local record shop, and sing or whistle the tune. Never failed... –  Tim Dec 11 at 18:02

3 Answers 3

If the music is used in a film, it is usually listed in the credits. IMDB.com is a great website to find the music used in films; find the film's page, then find the link to its soundtracks (or just add "soundtrack" to the end of the film's URL, before the question mark e.g. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2294629/soundtrack).

Last resort: Upload a video of yourself performing the song to the best of your ability to YouTube, and offer a reward to the first person to guess correctly. Don't forget to ping me a link to your video here.

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Asking for identification here is off-topic. I would perhaps suggest posting it in the chat, but suggesting to post it as a question sounds like a bad idea to me. –  Édouard Apr 30 at 9:53
    
@Édouard: Um sorry, I meant on this page, to me, not as a new question. He would be asking for identification on YouTube, not here. –  Lee Kowalkowski Apr 30 at 10:46
    
Oh, it's you! You would be asking for identification... etc... –  Lee Kowalkowski Apr 30 at 10:48
    
@Édouard: Oh, you answered your own question?! So, is there a piece of music you don't know the name of, or what? –  Lee Kowalkowski Apr 30 at 10:50

If the song has lyrics, search the web by the text you hear. Verify that you found and under some success this may give you the exact name of the song. Then you can search for the sheet music or MIDI files (MIDI files can be opened with some tool like MuseScore to produce the sheet music as well).

If there is no lyrics, options are much more limited. If you hear and recognize at least some chords, it may be still possible to search for the string like "c am dm g7 songs" (add "songs" or "chords" to tell the search engine these are not street numbers). This returns a lot of useless hits but if the guessed sequence is long enough, you may hit the needed song at the end.

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There are several services on the internet which can help you with that.

If you have access to a recording of the song

If you have access to a recording of the song and a smartphone, Shazam can help you. It’s a service which helps you identify a song by computing a “fingerprint” from the sounds it record. To use the service, you need to download their app on a smartphone.

Shazam for Android on the Google Play Store
Shazam for iPhone, iPod or iPad
Shazam’s website

If you just have the song stuck in your head

If you don’t have access to a recording, or if you’re somehow unable to use Shazam, you can use a query by humming service, which tries to find the song by asking you to sing, hum or whistle its theme.

Midomi, for example, provides this service: go to their web page, hit the “Click to hum or sing”, sing (or hum or whistle) for a few seconds and click the button again.

If you’d rather use your phone to do the same, the SoundHound app provides the very same service.

SoundHound for Android on the Google Play Store
SoundHound for iPhone, iPod, iPad
SoundHound’s website

If you're a musician, you can also visit Musipedia where you'll be able to search using either a keyboard, Parson’s contours, rhythms or various other tools.

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Thanks for posting this! For what it's worth, I've never successfully used SoundHound to identify a song by humming, but it does a fair job of identifying from recordings, and it has a cool lyrics feature (shows them synchronized with the music). –  Bradd Szonye Apr 29 at 20:49

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