Find Out The Title Of (just About) Any Classical Piece, By just knowing how one of its themes goes
Aug 6 2007, 06:37 PM
Other side of the coin
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Joined: 3-May 07
From: CPH, Denmark
I know from time to time we have questions here and there in the forums about the title/composer of this or that piece of music.

Somewhere among all the books I've stashed away while moving I have a book called "Dictionary of Classical Themes" which is just that - by transposing a theme you know to A minor or C major, you could look up what piece it was alphabetically, like "C C E E G G E F F D D B B G" for Haydn's Symphony no. 94 "Surprise" (which didn't need transposing, since it's C major in the first place).

Well, things got even easier, when I stumbled upon this website:

It offers several similar ways to search for a piece of music based on its themes. Probably the easiest one (and the only one I've tested) is Contour Search. Which allows you to simply enter whether the intervals go Up or Down - or if the note is Repeated. After writing out some of the theme like that, you can then click search, and Musipedia will give you its "guesses".

It will often require some trial and error - especially if there are "decorative" notes, which you might have to leave out (or didn't notice in the theme and were supposed to leave in), but generally, after a few tries, it will find the piece - and even let you listen to the theme played through MIDI in rhythm and with the actual notes, to see if it's the right one.

Had my first actual use for it today, because in my lack of education, I didn't know what the theme was called that is often used in circuses when the elephants enter wink.gif So, I tried the following:


Just added a space at the end of the first phrase, to make it easier to read. The star is used to indicate the first note, which has obviously neither gone Up or Down or been Repeated.

Sure enough, musipedia came up with "Baby Elephant Walk" by Henry Mancini (of Pink Panther fame).

Very nice smile.gif

The Haydn piece mentioned above would be *RURURD URDRDRD (first note, repeat, up, repeat, up, repeat, down... up, repeat, down, repeat, down, repeat, down)

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This post has been edited by Kaneda: Aug 6 2007, 06:40 PM
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