Playing the ‘what song is that?’ game

DJ mixes created by your favourite artist are one way to find new music – but how do you find out the names of the songs you’re listening to? In the ‘good old days’ before the internet you were flat out of luck, unless you had an encyclopaedic knowledge of music.

Music cassettes still for sale at the Temple Street night market

But today the job is easier. If it’s a MP3 file hopefully someone has included the track list into the ID3 metadata, but otherwise you’ve got some detective work to do. Plugging song lyrics into Google might get you somewhere, but the easiest is using Shazam:

Shazam identifies songs based on an audio fingerprint based on a time-frequency graph called a spectrogram. It uses a smartphone or computer’s built-in microphone to gather a brief sample of audio being played. Shazam stores a catalogue of audio fingerprints in a database. The user tags a song for 10 seconds and the application creates an audio fingerprint. Shazam works by analyzing the captured sound and seeking a match based on an acoustic fingerprint in a database of millions of songs. If it finds a match, it sends information such as the artist, song title, and album back to the user.

And my task at hand

I came across the ‘Home / Not Home’ Mix by Melbourne band Architecture in Helsinki on Soundcloud, but unfortunately it didn’t have a tracklist.

Shazam was able to pick up seven out out the eight songs, but came up blank at 18:15. For that I had to turn to old fashioned Google search, plugging in lyrics, then listening to the resulting YouTube videos until I found a match.

The end result:

Todd Terje – Snooze 4 Love

Storm Queen – Look Right Through

Mario & Vidis feat. Ernesto – Changed

Scenic – Another Sky (The Magician Remix)

Black Van – Yearning

Tensnake – Need Your Lovin

Joakim – Forever Young

Architecture in Helsinki – Escapee (Lo-Fi-Fnk Remix)

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