Budding Muso? Get The Chords To Any Song On Youtube


Here's one of the neatest ideas I've seen for ages, courtesy of a new web site at http://play.riffstation.com.  Search for the name of a song or band, and the site will bring up the relevant video from Youtube.  It'll also automatically analyse the track, work out which chords are being played, and show you them in guitar, ukulele or piano notation.  So you can play along.

Despite involving what is undoubtedly some very clever technology behind the scenes, the user interface is actually really simple to use.  And it's currently free, too.  The system claims to have analyzed hundreds of thousands of songs already, but will offer to scan your chosen song if the one you select hasn't already been processed.  It takes just 20 seconds or so.

While it's far from perfect (the applause during the intro often confuses it), the system is still a brilliant idea and a great help to budding musicians everywhere.



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Hi guys.

This is some great discussion here. I'm glad the response is positive. We're guitar geeks ourselves and we're trying to build algorithms with the intelligence to listen to music. As you can see, sometimes it gets it wrong (score for humans) but we will be opening up lots of features as we go allowing users to make edits and contribute to the community. Our goal here is simplicity - to make finding and seeing the chords as easy as using YouTube. And the syncing the chords with the audio - we think can be really useful for beginners and even intermediates looking for a quick overview.

About the detection - our algorithm doesn't get to know just what the guitar is playing - it hears the whole song as if it were one giant harmony (with drums :-)). As some of you guys suggested, the bass lines and vocal lines will all have an effect on what the algorithm "hears". A good example of an ambiguous case is a Maj7 chord which contains a major and minor triad simultaneously. Depending on the inversion, that can be interpreted by the algorithm in many different ways. But needless to say we are working on making this thing better all the time and we really appreciate your support!



Just got off their free website. Very impressive, so downloaded Riffstation's beta software. Been playing the guitar all my life, so it's more of an algorithmic tour de force for me, but I have a 16-year old who picked up the guitar a couple of years ago, and is singing with it. This program opens vast new worlds for her. I'm pretty much mesmerized by it myself. Thanks, Gizmo.

Interesting: In the Eagles song "Seven Bridges Road" they detect a B minor at 0:29 (and other places) between changing from G back to D on the word "road" that I didn't hear when I made a cheat-sheet for our band. Bmin doesn't sound good on keyboard there but then, those are supposed to be guitar chords (:>). Any comments on what it might be picking up? Like the Bass player walking down from the G's 5th (D) to D's 5th (A).

Just found that by clicking on the "Guitar" button a few times you can get to the keyboard where it shows that same Bmin. And also, way back at 0:29 the Bass player isn't so it must be picking up were one of the vocals slides down using 5th above harmony.

My account says it's free until 1 September

Oh, so does mine.

Thanks, I'd not noticed that.

It's a nice idea and a great interface, but it seems to be limited to three note chords. There are no 7ths, 9ths, augmented, diminished, etc. which makes it useless for any song that's moderately interesting. Extracting the pitches from random audio tracks is difficult in the extreme, but if the pitches are actually known, then determining the chord is easy.

To the developers: Keep at it! It's really encouraging!

I discovered that too last night, e.g. - http://play.riffstation.com./?v=VaWdHa8eh10 and http://play.riffstation.com./?v=I-h4A7bF8wQ

I'd debate whether that makes it useless though (for instance it could provide a useful foundation from which to work out the correct chords of a song) and also for basic guitar/bass accompaniment perhaps.

I second your sentiment however, I'd love see to this one developed further although advances in tab software possibly make it a bit redundant. As it stands though (i.e. youtube vid + scrolling chords) I'm thinking it's probably a great instrument (no pun intended sorry :p) for budding learners.

(Registration is required to process more than one song per 24 hours by the way, but it's free)

Nice find Rob : )

I've tried a lot of similar software and never been hugely impressed but this actually seems pretty good.

I really like the scrolling display and chord diagrams, plus the option to switch between guitar and piano.

I've just tried it with a few songs that I already know and it seems to work well, I'll look forward to testing it with some more involved pieces later.