Hum to Search: A Search Engine For Earworms

Original article was published by Dylan Roy on Artificial Intelligence on Medium

Hum to Search: A Search Engine For Earworms

Find A Song Just By Humming the Melody

Photo by Mohammad Metri on Unsplash

Google has just released a product this last week that actually will likely become something that I use frequently. There’s been a number of instances where I have had a song melody stuck in my head, but no way to recall the lyrics where sadly Shazam wouldn’t just wouldn’t cut it to discover the song that I am trying to recall. This is where Google’s new Hum to Search functionality comes into play.

Google has taken their music identification app even further than being able to identify a song from a recording. They have been able to advance past the Shazam like identification of a song by providing their machine learning model with a variety of audio sources, everyday people singing, whistling or humming, and not just studio recordings that would only allow the identification of a song playing on the radio. Let’s hope that Google has trained their models with some very poorly hummed songs, and try using this ourselves.

Who Can Use It

If you have an Android device or even an iPhone you are in luck as this is available in both the Google Play Store, and the Apple App Store. For both operating systems Google has served English speakers pretty well as this feature is currently available in English on iOS. For those that don’t have their mobile devices set to English you are in luck as this feature is available in more than 20 languages on Android

Photo by Hardik Sharma on Unsplash

How to Use It

So you now have a song in your head, and now want to figure out which song it is to end this endless torture. Here’s how do do just that with Google’s Hum to Search.


On Android you can either activate the Google Assistant, open the latest version of the Google app, or tap the mic icon on the Google Search widget and say “what’s this song?” or click the “Search a song”.

After which you can start whistling or humming a 10 to 15 second melody of the song you want to find, and prey Google is as good at knowing your intent through a poorly hummed tune as it is through a poorly spelt phrase.


If you are using an iOS device you have less options as you will need to open the Google app, after which you can proceed as you would with the Android device and say “what’s this song?” or click the “Search a song” then proceed to pray that the limits of AI extend past detecting this song through your voice, and not as far as the undoing of humanity.


For those songs you can’t quite remember the lyrics to this new feature should be easy to use as long as you know it exists. I continue to be surprised by how well Google’s search functionality continues to expand past just a well written search phrase, and no is no longer just limited to identifying websites through written word. Google Search has come a long way. At this point Google has acquired yet another human sense to better identify things we are searching for. Let’s just hope Google stays true to its motto “Don’t be evil” as these advancements in the wrong hands likely could do just that.

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