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Are there any apps or programs that can identify musical instruments?

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  • Are there any apps or programs that can identify musical instruments?

    I got into composing since I'm into filmmaking and got into experimenting with scoring my own projects. I will sometimes hear a musical instrument in a score and I like it and want to know what it is, but a lot of times people cannot tell me.

    Is there phone apps that can identify instruments, when recording a piece of music with them, into the phone? I tried looking it up but most music apps are not about that. But is there any?

  • #2
    Yes, your brain lol And I don't mean to sound sarcastic, but the brain is probably the best tool for this. With the exception of either custom instruments or instruments that are so seldom used (A lot of similarly constructed/foreign instruments), I'd say the brain has the ability to separate multiple levels of instruments and identify the smallest details.

    If you use an app to identify an instrument, the app listens, and tells you what the instrument is, end of story. But, knowing what the instrument sound like, THEN searching for it during a cue and correctly identifying it not only gives you the answer you'e looking for, but allows you to do so in the future....ready for it......without using the app.

    If you're serious/interested in composing you must become the sound you wish to express. Learn how they sound in a solo setting, then you will better understand how to identify them when they are being played simultaneously~


    • #3
      Okay thanks, but if it's an instrument I do not know the name of, my brain cannot tell me the name by listening, if my brain does not know the instrument name originally. And it is usually the case with exotic or foreign sounding instruments. How is the brain suppose to tell you what instrument it is, if it doesn't know the name of it?


      • #4
        Haha I know what you mean. To be honest, there really isn't much of a substitute for simply researching and learning about an orchestra, it's ensemble, and what their instrumental tonal qualities are. An app cannot tell the difference between a piccolo and a flute, or the difference of two different kinds of harps, or be able to identify an instrument buried among-st others as the entire ensemble is playing. The human ear is more than enough to achieve what you're seeking. To my knowledge I don't know of any programs that parse out instruments how you're needing them to.

        I would simply just start listening to instruments in their solo capacity, eventually you will be able to identify everything that's traditional. Custom instruments are much more difficult to figure out, a lot of the times they are idio-phones.


        • #5
          Oh okay. But it's usually the non-traditional, strange instruments I have trouble with, cause I will here an exotic foreign sound, and I really like it, but have no idea what instrument that is. And I will ask people I know and they don't know either. So the ear doesn't do any good, if no one knows what those non-traditional instruments are called. How do you figure out what they are then?


          • #6
            Why does it matter?
            Screenwriter and script consultant: www.maralesemann.com


            • #7
              Cause then I can know what instruments they are and can use them in my composing, but have to find out what the name of the instruments are first.


              • #8
                You're worrying about the tiny rocks at the top of the mountain before you figure out how you're going to climb the mountain. Stop worrying about the little stuff and figure out the big picture first.
                Screenwriter and script consultant: www.maralesemann.com


                • #9
                  Well I understand where they are coming from. There have been many instances when I'm listening to a cue and an instrument beyond the scope of the traditional orchestra pops in, and you do end up saying "what in the world is that?". It does help to identify instruments correctly, as they can become part of your own ensemble.

                  What I was saying before was learn for yourself instead of relying on tech to solve the problem. If you have no idea where to begin, begin here: If you're toying around with scoring, you should be able to identify if an instrument is either a wind, a string, a brass, or percussive. Their tonal qualities are separate enough. If you hear a weird instrument, identify which one of the above it is then go from there. If you really have no idea, again, I would research instruments and how they sound SOLO. If you hear something that sounds like a flute, then research common flutes/ exotic/world instruments/ etc. Plus the feeling of finding out what something is on your own is vindicating...have more faith in your own ears!~


                  • #10
                    Yep for sure. I can definitely tell the types of instruments they are, just don't what the names. Like when it comes to non-traditional and foreign and exotic instruments, I can tell if the ones I like the sound of are percussive, brass, string, or wind. I can pinpoint it down to those types, just having trouble finding out what they are, cause when I google say percussive instruments, I can never find the weird ones I like the sound of. Or there is an instrument which I want right now, which I am pretty sure is a synthesizer, just don't know how to get that exact synthesizer sound in a synthesizer menu of options...


                    • #11
                      I see what you mean. It sounds like you might be in the trial and error zone. Unfortunately it comes down to this sometimes~ I was searching for a particular drum one time after having heard it on a score. After trying all the traditional drums used, I literally had to go into a world instruments library and try out, one by one, each of Africa's 100 different drum types they have, and sure enough found the one I needed. Simple trial and error, but time consuming.

                      Do you have a link to the instrument you're trying to locate? Maybe I can box your compass a little more if I hear what your seeking~


                      • #12
                        Oh okay thanks. I've tried libraries myself and still can't find it, unless I am just looking in the wrong libraries. There are so many instruments I could ask about as to what they are. However, the most current one I am looking to find then name of is this percussion instrument, you hear at the beginning of this track:


                        I feel that it's also the same instrument in this track, but played at a higher note here, unless I am wrong and this is a different instrument at 0:47 into the clip?:


                        And I don't mind time consuming trial and error, it's just I've been looking and still can't find instruments I want, probably cause I am not looking in the right places.
                        Last edited by ironpony; 04-19-2019, 12:28 PM.


                        • #13
                          Well those could be any number of combination of drums. First off, I love the score from TMNT by John Du Prez. The drums may be some sort of Taiko drum, they usually have a soft tone to them but it's possible those could have been recorded and mixed to give them that very reverbish timbre they have. Taiko drums are cool, they are Japanese based and come in all shapes and sizes.

                          It essentially sounds like the membrane stretched over the drum is very taught, it gives the drum a nice "pop" sort of sound to it. I would bet those are some sort of Taiko drum. Give that a look up and see if it's close at all.

                          The City of Angels cue seems to have another instrument playing along side it. Definitely in the tenor range, it could be a tenor drum with a stare paired with it to give it that bright "pop".

                          Hope this provides some sort of direction!


                          • #14
                            Oh okay thanks. Still not sure about the City of Angels one but thanks :). I thought the TMNT drum was actually a Taiko as well, but it sounds different than a Taiko, but perhaps it's a Taiko that's been modified or something.|

                            When it comes to other instruments, you said before you had to a whole library to listen from. Where does one find a good library of sample sounds to find out the instrument you want?
                            Last edited by ironpony; 04-22-2019, 08:33 PM.


                            • #15
                              It was probably highly processed, definitely a ton of reverb, it sounds like maybe a high pass filter was applied or something to give it a hollow sort of feeling to it. definitely unique. There are a ton of electronic elements in the score as well~

                              I have a virtual library that I use to compose with. Companies (and more importantly musicians) out there digitally record instruments then make them available to use for composition and performance. There are literally thousands of samples from traditional orchestra, world instruments, jazz, marching band, harp kits, piano kits. It allows you to manipulate and play with one or many instruments at a time. This is mostly where I learned to identify a good deal of instruments, it's fun to throw on a cue and play along with it to hone your skills.

                              The one I use is Garritan Instruments with a DAW workspace (thats included I believe when you download it). It's a modest cost, but if you're interested in composing a compelling piece it's worth it~