General Question

LostInParadise's avatar

Would it be possible to have a song dictionary?

Asked by LostInParadise (29660points) February 11th, 2012

If you consider the first 15 or so notes of a song, that comes to a finite but very large number of possibilities. Would it be possible to take the first few notes of existing songs and arrange them in some sort of dictionary?

What prompts this question is that I heard a tune in a dream. I have no musical ability. I am certain that I lifted the tune from somewhere, but I have no idea from where. It would be nice to be able to look it up and find out where it came from. I would think that there would be some general benefit to this. For example, there have been a few cases where song writes were sued for plagiarism for stealing someone else’s song. It would be convenient to run a standard check on a song to make sure that nobody thought of it already.

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6 Answers

auhsojsa's avatar

What you would get is within the pop section something like this.

G, Em, Am, D
1. One song here
2. Another song here
3. Yet another song here
And it would go on and on as that chord selection and progression is beyond popular. That’s just one instance of it being really hard to index.

PhiNotPi's avatar

Try Musipedia. It allows you to search its database and the internet for a piece of music using a variety of tools. The downside it that its database, while growing, is still pretty small.

Also, it is melody/rhythm based (it doesn’t search harmony, chords, or lyrics). If you have the lyrics, a Google search will probably work. If you are unable to figure out the actual note to the song, you can use the “contour search”, which allows you to search music if you only know whether each note goes “up” or “down” in pitch compared to the one before it.

LostInParadise's avatar

@PhiNotPi , @JaneraSolomon Those are so cool. I think it would be great to include every tune ever created. I wonder if it would be possible for a researcher to look through the database looking for certain types of trends and patterns.

HungryGuy's avatar

It would be a monumental effort to catalog every song every created. I see it as a valuable app for the reasons you stated: to search if a song you wrote is too close to another copyrighted song.

But once all songs are cataloged, it would be very easy to implement. Go to the site, and just type the first few notes. For example, you enter “C” and the site will list every song that starts with “C.” Or enter “C G B” and the site lists all songs that start with those three notes.

This would be a great way for composers to protect themselves from legal attacks, but also for people searching for songs.

PhiNotPi's avatar

Another thing is that a tune may not come from the beginning of the song, but from any part inside of it. Many pieces of music have multiple melodies. You must also take into consideration that a person may be writing the same melody in a different key. For example, there might not be a single piece of music that begins with “c4 e4 e4 c8 d8 e4 d8 b8 a4 c8 d8 e4 g4 g4 e8 d8 d4 e8 c8 a2”, or even contains those particular notes, but it is definitively stolen from 1:40 of this video.

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