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Magical music identifier

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A tune has been running through my head. I was pretty sure I had been told it was a hymn, and that the word "Hallelujah" appeared prominently in the lyrics, but I never knew any of the other lyrics, and I didn't know the name of the tune. (I had only encountered it, many years ago, as a demo file for an old sheet-music application that no longer runs on my Mac; had never heard it performed or sung, just auto-played by the software.)

I was about to resort to trying to describe it in words on a mailing list ("it starts out sort of like 'Simple Gifts', and then there's this 'Hallelujah' part..."), but then I thought, hey, why not try Midomi?

For those who don't know it, Midomi is a music search system. You can sing or hum a bit of a song, and it'll try to identify it for you. (They also have various other options; for example, their "Grab" feature recognizes recorded music from radio or TV.)

I've tried both the website version and the iPhone version a few times before, and have never had much luck with either. I think mostly the kinds of songs I want identified aren't the kinds of songs that are in its database.

But I figured it was worth a try. I hummed fifteen seconds of the opening of the hymn into the iPhone mic. And even though my humming was wobbly and off-key, the first search result was exactly what I was looking for: "All Creatures of Our God and King." Words by Francis of Assisi, translated to English by William H. Draper. But I didn't care so much about the words; the tune is what I wanted, and it turns out to be "Lasst Uns Erfreuen," apparently also used for at least one other hymn, "Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones." Pretty tune; I find the second half of the refrain particularly satisfying. Possibly composed by Peter von Brachel--I can't tell whether the notation on various pages is saying he was the composer or not.

Yikes--the iTunes Store has over 150 different recordings of "All Creatures." I'll go through some of them to find one I like, but it'll take a while.

Anyway, so score one for Midomi. Yay! They even have a recording of one of their users singing "All Creatures"; kinda neat.

While I'm mentioning music-recognition systems, I should mention the iPhone app Shazam (also available for other kinds of phones), which is more oriented toward recognizing professional recordings; for example, you can hold it up to a radio speaker if you want to find out what the song that's playing is. I've had slightly better results with Shazam for recorded stuff, but again there's the problem that their database probably doesn't include a lot of the songs I would want recognized.

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