That catchy tune!
If you are watching a movie or listening to a radio you will know that you can't simply just have the songs that play listed to you so you can look them up. Many times people panic because they hear a tune or song they like but have no way of finding it. They can hum the tune but that's about it. Here are some helpful tips to finding the name of a song you like, and these methods have been used by myself and many others for a long time.
Catch a distinct lyric
When a song you like has lyrics, listen for a specific sentence or portion of the singing that you can memorize or write down. This is key to finding the song and so far I have had a 100% success rate in finding songs by this method if it has clear lyrics. Finding the name of a song is easy now because the next chance you get to a computer load up Google. Now type into the Google search bar that exact phrase or sentence and be sure to incorporate the quotation marks ("") before and after the phrase. What this tells Google to do is to find anything that has that exact phrase and only search for that. So if you are missing one word then none of the results will come up because Google is only searching for that exact phrase. So searching for a lyric like "I wish this time would come to an end" would yield only page results that appear just like that, where if you typed in I wish this time would come to an end then any page that consisted of any of those words would come up and you will have a harder time finding your song.
Doing this will help you find that song because there are dozens of lyric websites out there that list millions of song lyrics. If you can simply grab a few words in a sentence string then you are almost guaranteed to find that song you are looking for. So next time the radio is on and you hear your favorite song but don't know what it's called, use this method of finding a song by lyrics and then type it in quotations to a search engine like Google and this will come up as the only result you are looking for.
While the above method has given me 100% success in finding any song, what about songs that have no lyrics? What about songs where the singer has an unclear voice like screamo heavy metal? You can't employ this tactic because the lyrics are unclear or there are none so you can't search Google or Bing for the song. This is where a smartphone comes into play if you are fortunate enough to own one. There are a bunch of apps that help you find songs by listening to the track for you. I personally use Shazam so if there are other ones that are better I haven't tried them, but Shazam does the job well. Finding a song has never been easier because Shazam has a massive database of songs and the app works as follows. You tap the listen button and then the app goes into "listening mode". During these next few seconds hold your phone up to the speaker and the app will listen to the song to find a pattern or sequence that matches a song in its database. Shazam will then tell you the name of the song, the artist, and year it came out as well as the CD it's listed on.
Shazam is brilliant in locating any popular song because of the size of its database. If you are hearing a great guitar solo and you know there are no lyrics after that just put your smartphone up to the speaker and the app will do the rest of the work. It will find the tune you are looking for with no issues at all. The only problem that can come up is if you are seeking an obscure tune that won't be in its database such as a video game soundtrack or custom made song by an emerging artist. If this is the case then the app won't recognize it and simply tell you it couldn't locate what you were listening to. Unless you are looking for unknown tunes or ones that aren't that famous and popular this is a sure fire way to finding the tune you want.
Employ the help of others
If you are looking for a title and these above methods haven't worked (unlikely unless it's obscure or not popular as mentioned before) then you can employ the help of other people. Maybe you heard a great video game soundtrack and you can't use the above methods to locate it, well there are websites out there that have specialists and public volunteers that may know it where software won't. WatZatSong and Name My Tune are two websites that come to mind, where you can hum the tune or however you wish into an mp3 format file and let others listen to it. They can then identify the song you are looking for and tell you what it is. This method will be your last line of defense in locating the tune you are seeking. If this method fails then you are pretty much out of luck as software, lyric searches, and humans couldn't help you. Hopefully this isn't the case and other fellow music lovers assisted you in finding the tune you heard.
With these three tools at your disposal you are pretty assured in finding the tune you heard. The first two have been used by me and others for years and this will almost guarantee your success in finding that arrangement you heard on the radio or television show. If these two methods don't work then grab the help of your fellow music lovers and hum that tune into an mp3 format file and let them listen, they just might know where the smartphone doesn't! Using these methods, you should have an easy time finding the name of any song you heard and you can locate it on YouTube to listen to it or iTunes to purchase it. Good luck in finding your songs and hopefully these methods help you in your quest to build your knowledge and music library.