Quiet Guide

Stuff that matters

On Thursday, Google unveiled “Hum to Search.” The feature is included with the latest update to the Google mobile app for iOS or Android, and it works just like Shazam, except you don’t have to play the actual song. Instead, you tap the microphone icon, say “What song is this” or tap “Search a song.” Then just sing, whistle, or hum the tune for about 10-15 seconds.

“So how does it work? An easy way to explain it is that a song’s melody is like its fingerprint: They each have their own unique identity. We’ve built machine learning models that can match your hum, whistle, or singing to the right ‘fingerprint.’ When you hum a melody into Search, our machine learning models transform the audio into a number-based sequence representing the song’s melody. “

Machine learning algorithms analyze your little ditty and serve up potential matches. You don’t have to be a maestro, either. As long as you reproduce a close approximation to the notes, it should work even if you sing or hum off-key. Tapping on the song you believe is the match brings up search results similar to what you would find if you typed in the song’s name, so lyrics, videos, artist information, and so forth are returned.

It’s a nifty little trick, great for those times you can remember a tune, but nothing else. However, Google makes no guarantees that learning everything there is to know about the song will kill your earworm and get the blasted notes out of your head.