For when you can’t remember the name of a song – humming search

Years ago, I heard of a Japanese company that was offering cell-phone based “humming search.” I thought it was a crazy idea at the time, but over the years, whenever I hear a song and wonder, “what’s the name of that?” I also wonder whether or not that technology ever made it to the U.S. (Fortunately, the 19 and the 16 year olds and I make a potent “what’s that tune?” force — we love her, but let’s just say the mom of the household has other talents.)

This morning on Weekend Edition, I heard Scott Simon interview the folks behind’s humming search tool (

Concept sounds great but when I clicked over to it, I discovered it doesn’t work in the browsers I use. According to Adam Pash at Life Hacker, it requires the ActiveX plugin, so Internet Explorer was the only browser he could get it to work in. As a Mac user, my no-longer-supported Internet Explorer program is quite old and dusty so I rarely crank it up. I didn’t even try to see if it could beat my in-house team.

Rafe Needleman at WebWare got his Julliard-trained wife to help him test the service and it only worked 30 pecent of the time. If you do get a positive answer, the service will deliver you to Napster when you can purchase versions of the recording.

I think the idea is great, however, I think it’s more efficient to call up my kids and say, “what’s the name of that song that goes….”