RUDUD (happy birthday to you)

My daughter Carolyn’s second birthday is on Sunday. She is very cute. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. Try this: go to the Musipedia Melody Search web page and enter these characters in the search field: “RUDUDDRUDUDDRUDDDDURDDUD”. As it happens, this sequence is a perfect match for the Happy Birthday song (copyright Mildred J. Hill and Patty Smith Hill). The sequence uses the so-called Parsons Code, which simplifies music to such an extravagant degree that all it keeps track of is whether notes go up (U), down (D), or stay the same (R). Against expectation, this stripped-down format retains enough information to zero in on tunes you only know how to hum. Musipedia (“Inspired by, but not affiliated with Wikipedia” as they say) has a giant catalog of tunes to compare to, but many of them seem to be things like Mahler’s unfortunate “Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen No. 2 Ging heut’ morgen” (DUUUUUUUUD!). Still, it’s fun poking around. I found Another Brick in the Wall by typing in a random sequence (UUDDUUDDUU). I haven’t tried it, but they even have a way to whistle to your computer and have it look up the song automatically.

Until next time, we’ll sign off with the Rambles Weblog theme song…

One thought on “RUDUD (happy birthday to you)”

  1. I knew that there was a relative “up down repeat ” method of indexing tunes but I had long forgotten what it was called.
    It was in book form when I first encountered it, but it was an obvious candidate for computerization.
    Putting the code for Happy Birthday into Google brought me here and I now know it’s the Parsons Code.
    Thanks, Graham

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