Google Hum

By: Nick Gambino

Got a tune stuck in your head and have no idea what it is? Well, Google is here to rescue you from the pitfalls of your lapsed memory. They’ve added a new feature to their search function that allows you to hum or sing a song and see a list of results of what it might be.

You can hum to search in the Google app on your Android or iOS device or when using Google Assistant. Call up the voice-activated search by tapping on the little mic, then hit “search a song” to start your hum session.

You can hum, scat, sing lyrics, whatever resembles the song and Google will get to work trying to find it. I’ve seen mention that you can use the command “What’s this song” followed by humming without having to tap “search a song” but this didn’t work for me every time, so either it’s user error or they have some wrinkles to iron out.

I gave the little “hum to search” feature a whirl and it’s pretty solid. Despite their numerous other ventures, Google is first and foremost a top-of-the-line search engine, so it makes sense that they would get this one right.

In the great pantheon of hummers, I reside somewhere in the lower tier, below the pillars, sunk into the dirt. That didn’t stop Google from recognizing most of my humming efforts. Granted I knew what song I was humming. I haven’t yet tried it with a song I can’t remember and only have an inkling of the tune.

The more accurate my humming, the more accurate the search results. I even tried singing a song (to my dog’s chagrin) and, unsurprisingly, that returned the quickest and most accurate result.

Google Hum Song

“When you hum a melody into Search, our machine learning models transform the audio into a number-based sequence representing the song’s melody,” Krishna Kumar, Senior Product Manager for Google Search, said in a blog post. “Our models are trained to identify songs based on a variety of sources, including humans singing, whistling or humming, as well as studio recordings. The algorithms also take away all the other details, like accompanying instruments and the voice’s timbre and tone. What we’re left with is the song’s number-based sequence, or the fingerprint.”

What will these beautiful minds think of next? Hopefully a cure for tone deafness.