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Got a (classical) tune in your head?
September 3, 2002 9:33 PM   Subscribe

Got a (classical) tune in your head? Don't know its source? This website (as well as this one) allows you to search for that annoying snippet of classical music that's been driving you to distraction. Sure, dictionaries of musical themes exist, but they're out of print, hard to find, or both. My inner classical buff is ecstatic.
posted by Johnny Assay (20 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. My faith in the internet has been renewed. coooooooooooooool.
posted by Stan Chin at 9:34 PM on September 3, 2002


Holy cow, I installed the java applet for melodyhound's Find using a Whistle search, but then I remember I don't have a microphone.

If anyone could try this and tell me how it works it'd be greatly appreciated.
posted by Stan Chin at 9:38 PM on September 3, 2002


This is what I have been waiting for all my life.
I wonder if the source material was taken from publicly-available MIDI files, and if something similar could be done for popular music. I'd love something like that for DJ/cut-up purposes: finding out exactly which riffs fit together without having to scour the record collection on a hunch.
posted by twitch at 9:40 PM on September 3, 2002


Cheers, Johnny Assay!

In olden days, every decent record shop had someone who did little else but listen to customers going "di-boom-taran-tee" (or whatever) and then instantly recite the name of the tune, whether classical or pop. My brothers and I, as I suspect many others did, used to invent melodies just to test these wise and patient saints (London's HMV was a favourite). After he'd suggest some similar piece we'd go (of course):

Nah, that's not it.

What ungrateful little bastards we were. Still, I'm going to give this thingamajig the same treatment and see what it comes up with. Though it's not the same; not the same at all...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:48 PM on September 3, 2002


Great post.

Sometimes a melody enters your head and you are convinced that you have just invented it. Later, of course, you often realize that this scrap of music was lifted from your memory, a waft of some obscure song that your parents played endlessly on their hi-fi.
posted by vacapinta at 9:59 PM on September 3, 2002


I'm more enchanted with the themefinder of course. I took the snippet of Beethoven from the second link (from the Parsons example) and typed it into the Pitch field on Themefinder (c a b- c a). Out came Symphony 8 in F. Wonderful. Wonderful.
posted by vacapinta at 10:11 PM on September 3, 2002


Sometimes a melody enters your head and you are convinced that you have just invented it

Vacapinta: or the other way round. Paul McCartney famously woke up with the "Yesterday" melody, convinced he'd heard it somewhere and didn't write it out until he'd bothered dozens of people, asking them whether it didn't exist already. In a recentish interview he still suspects he heard it somewhere before dreaming it up!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:18 PM on September 3, 2002


Also see the New Zealand Digital Library music collection, which has been developing this sort of thing for a while.
posted by hattifattener at 11:49 PM on September 3, 2002


Some stores still have those employees, Miguel; the place I worked in 'till last year was full of them. Each of us specialized in the repertoire of at least one major orchestral instrument/discipline (a "strings" person, a "piano" person, etc.) and at least once a day we were called on to solve a musical puzzle. I can honestly say that trying to decipher people's "da-da-da"s is not as easy as it sounds, but it's great fun to see the smiles and relief on people's faces when they finally find that tune that's been haunting them for ages.

These links are the coolest I've seen on Metafilter in a while - thanks Johnny!
posted by scribblative at 12:11 AM on September 4, 2002


Scribblative - identifying "da-da-da-DAHs" is easier than finding the music when a customer doesn't even tell you how the music goes, or what it's called, and the look of relief is even more worth it.

I used to work in a music shop, with some of the employees mentioned above, and a sheet-music section too. Someone came into my department (piano sales) with a pile of Bach scores, and wanted to find 'a prelude' for her daughter. She wouldn't sing it, but it was definitely a Bach prelude.

I wearily started to sight-read the first few bars of every prelude in the whole stack (if you know Bach, you'll realise that this is A LOT of preludes). Then she said "it's quite famous", so I hit the more famous ones first. All to no avail.

Eventually, having gone through the lot, she said "I really need this piece. It's for a wedding". Ding! I tried "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" (by Bach, and a prelude to weddings, but not a prelude in the musical sense). She started screaming "Yes! Yes! That's it!". Now, am I a genius or what? What, most likely.
posted by cogat at 1:08 AM on September 4, 2002


A genius, a very patient genius, I'd say.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:52 AM on September 4, 2002


Heres another fancy site for UK tv adverts, that identifies the accompanying music.
posted by monkeyJuice at 2:31 AM on September 4, 2002


Paul McCartney famously woke up with the "Yesterday" melody, convinced he'd heard it somewhere and didn't write it out until he'd bothered dozens of people, asking them whether it didn't exist already.

Yes, Miguel, and Erroll Garner was convinced that Misty was something he had heard before as well.
posted by y2karl at 4:22 AM on September 4, 2002


Holy cow, I installed the java applet for melodyhound's Find using a Whistle search, but then I remember I don't have a microphone.

*listens*

I've got it! Silence by John Cage!
posted by y2karl at 4:24 AM on September 4, 2002


I've got it! Silence by John Cage!
I think you'll find it's A Minute's Silence by Mike Batt.
posted by chill at 5:48 AM on September 4, 2002


This is what I get for using Looney Tunes as my primary information source about opera. Thanks, Johnny.
posted by briank at 6:19 AM on September 4, 2002


Erroll Garner was convinced that Misty was something he had heard before as well.

Is that so? Misty is such a great melody it's as if we've all heard in in that big, undefinable Before before we actually (think we) heard it. It must seem a miracle it hadn't entered someone's mind before. Great tunes seem so obvious, like Nature or something. Perplexing...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:27 AM on September 4, 2002


Wow. Hurrah for a well-received first post!

I first stumbled across a copy of the Barlow & Morgenstern dictionary in a college library and fell in love with it -- it just seemed so damn cool. I'd love to be able to add that to my bookshelf, but unfortunately copies are going for almost $400 US on Amazon's used book site, and my budget can't absorb that. Good thing the Internet is here to save the day.
posted by Johnny Assay at 6:57 AM on September 4, 2002


Excellent post! I've run some piano music and symphonic themes through the themefinder and got great results. Not much luck with opera, though. I've been looking for something like this for quite some time. Again, thanks!
posted by horsewithnoname at 7:42 AM on September 4, 2002


Let me add to the chorus of praise. I got Barlow & Morgenstern as a birthday present many years ago and have worn the cover practically off it, but wonderful as it is, it does take more work than the sites require, and of course I have to be in my apartment to use it. Bravissimo!
posted by languagehat at 1:43 PM on September 4, 2002


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