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How do you identify music without a title?

09/28/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Music

This is more of a general musing. Recently a song came on my MP3 player. The song, recorded on tape from the UK's BBC Radio 1 sometime in the late '80s, is not by any artist I know of. There are no phrases that show up in any of the lyric searches. I've never come across another copy of it while downloading tracks by bands I've never heard of.

All in all, it's a great song and one I'd like to buy a better copy of. The problem is how exactly does one find a track with no distinguishing characteristics other than that you like it? I'd post it here but no doubt that would violate somebody's copyright and I don't particularly want to get Ritchie sued.

I have no idea whether it's even possible, but I certainly would love to have some sort of central repository where a piece of music can be uploaded and then identified by experts in musial esoterica. It's not really a computer recognition thing. Could it be?

It's a rather British mix of rock, prog-rock with more than a bit of electronica thrown in for good measure. There are some excellent guitar runs and some rather well done saxophone. While there are lyrics, they're brief and appear to just be something to wrap the instruments around; besides there're all done within the first quarter of the song.

As I can't post the MP3 itself, here are the lyrics (such as I can figure them out), until they get pulled by the sheet music people. Let me know if you recognise them.

Following around to see at night
That's never in
Always calling itself on its own phone
though it's never quite at home in the world today

Seeing to arranging a day
prepared in its own special way
we've added loving care, though it's not been fair,
since yesterday

My kinks are [...] far because
and it don't care what it is
I never really ever see it eye to eye
though it doesn't really mind
perhaps it's why

It never really saw,
never really saw
saw haw haw haw haw haw...



Comment from: Nimble [Member]  

I am the Google king!

I found a hit for one of the lines on http://malung-tv-news. blogspot. com/2005_03_01_malung-tv-news_archive.html - they identify the song as coming from The Cardiacs, but they don’t say which song.

A search of [cardiacs lyrics “its own phone"] gave me this solitary page: http://www.death.plus.com/cardiacs/lyrics/seasidelyrics.htm

It identifies the song as “Is This The Life?”

Searching on [cardiacs “is this the life?"] got me this link on YouTube: http://youtube.com/watch?v=mUDLA1LAzDo&mode=related&search=

I find it interesting how many angles are sometimes required with Google searches. I restored an addition thirty-odd postings, but a few of them stubbornly refused to appear, even with the site: specifier in front. My blog entry about Zuerich was especially trenchant. It didn’t appear in the site: query, but it did appear if I just took select phrases out of the first paragraph and put them in without specifying the site. The cached page for that was broken (so close, yet so far!), but changing the phrase used, then asking for ‘more results from nimblebrain.net’, then getting the cache from the second entry finally got me what I was looking for.

09/29/06 @ 01:05
Comment from: Adam [Member]  

You are indeed the Google King! The video on YouTube clinched that it’s the same song. Now all I have to do is find an album of theirs with the song on it.

Getting back to the original question though – how do you find music based on the music itself? In this case, the few lyrics were (fortunately) enough, but imagine trying to locate that nice piece of classical music played on CBC a couple of weeks back…

09/29/06 @ 02:09
Comment from: Nimble [Member]  

There were quite a few technologies I tripped across trying to answer that former question, but I don’t know about their efficacy.

There’s “The Song Tapper” (http://www.songtapper.com/) which lets you tap out the rhythm, but it failed on the few I gave it (it arguably has a bent to more modern songs, though). If it had a bigger repertoire, or allowed you to set the genre or approximate decade of the song, it might be handier.

There are services like Shazam (http://www.shazam.com/) which can supposedly do clips, but they are mobile phone-based.

I ran across a few others that sounded promising on the surface, but actually just did things like correlate ID3 tags. There may be more out there, but a more thorough search would be in order :)

09/29/06 @ 11:12
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