1482: NowPlaying

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The correct title of this page is 1482: #NowPlaying. It appears incorrectly here because of technical restrictions.
If you click on the post, it takes you to search results for the note on various online music stores.
Title text: If you click on the post, it takes you to search results for the note on various online music stores.


There are a variety of applications that post a user's music-listening habits on their preferred social network. In this comic, Randall takes that notion to its extreme, envisioning a program that does this note-by-note, rather than just song-by-song (This program is hard to implement in reality, as most of the music files shared online are wave tables .mp3, and it may be difficult to extract notes from them). As songs play several dozen notes a minute (and some songs, many more), this would lead to the flooding of friends' notification streams. In the example, the software is sharing the notes that Brian is listening to; and his friends Mike and Caitlin are getting annoyed with the number of posts they are receiving.

There are typically many hundreds of notes in any song. Any song with more than a single line of music contains multiple different notes whose names according to the English convention are communicated here. All but the slowest songs will require reporting dozens to hundreds of notes every minute (a single glissando may cover a dozen or more notes in less than a second), meaning that anyone who can see your stream of posts will be literally inundated by posts from the service. Even if you could keep up with the speed of the posted notes that someone is listening to, the similarity in phrases in many songs (especially pop songs, e.g. Pachelbel's Rant) means that many different songs may include the same sequence of notes, though possibly in different octaves or at different speeds. The so-called "Black MIDI" music files would contain thousands, or even millions of notes (a notable example being "Pi" by TSMB2 on YouTube with 3 million notes in total: an average of about 16000 notes per second), and this may annoy Mike and Caitlin even more - probably by crashing their phone system with too many notifications.[citation needed]

The comic's title alludes to the fact that you can "play a song" but can also "play a note." It may also allude to the visual similarities between the hash/pound/number sign (#) and the sharp sign (♯). C sharp, above Mike's comment, is the only note not given by a single letter (after the correction - see Trivia).

The title text continues the joke of this new musical service: If you click on the post, it takes you to search results for the note on various online music store. Since many songs in similar keys contain at least some of the notes posted, you would be given a list of a large part of the music you can buy in any on-line music stores. Of course this is at least as useless as being told which note someone is listening to.

The notes appear to be the beginning of I'll Be There For You by The Rembrandts, the title music of the TV series "Friends". This could be an internal reference to the idea that it "notifies" (converts into musical notes) your "friends" of the notes (a play on words).

Or we've been nerd sniped.


[A social network news feed with user images for each of the three different contributors. The top of the first post is partly obscured, and for the last post only half of the first line is visible.]
[Partially Visible] Brian is now listening to: E
Today • 3:28 PM
Brian is now listening to: A
Today • 3:28 PM
Brian is now listening to: B
Today • 3:28 PM
Brian is now listening to: D
Today • 3:28 PM
Brian is now listening to: C sharp
Today • 3:28 PM
Mike What the hell
Today • 3:28 PM
Brian is now listening to: B
Today • 3:28 PM
Brian is now listening to: A
Today • 3:28 PM
Caitlin Can someone call him?
Today • 3:28 PM
Brian is now listening to: A
Today • 3:28 PM
Brian is now listening to: E
Today • 3:29 PM
[Partially Visible] Brian is now listening to: A
[Caption below the image:]
My new social music service notifies your friends about what notes you're listening to.


  • In the original comic there were a few errors/mistakes that were corrected later the same day:
    • One of the messages was out of order. The instance where "Brian is now listening to A" above Caitlin's post was timestamped at 3:29, but the next two posts were timestamped at 3:28. Now this timestamp has been corrected to 3:28 so only the last timestamp reads 3:29, the rest 3:28.
    • The first partially visible "note" post was "E major". This is not a single note but rather a chord or scale. The "major" was removed from the comic so it now reads simply "E".

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So what song is it? 06:11, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

I believe it is the Main Theme from Jurassic Park. --Duhsn (talk) 06:13, 4 February 2015 (UTC)
If you have good ears you can check for yourself: Link -- 09:05, 4 February 2015 (UTC)
Nope, not even close. Wrong notes, wrong key (although that doesn't matter as much, could be transposed). Though I thought it was the little bit at the end of "This Old Man", but the last 3 notes don't make sense, and when I try to play it, the first A doesn't quite work (also found sheet music, and that first A should be a B, confirmed). Oh well. - Mikowmer -- 11:26, 4 February 2015 (UTC)
Might it be the folk melody "Country Gardens"? See the Wikipedia entry or look it up one of the many performances on Youtube (there's a charming performance with the Muppets Rowlf and Fozzie Bear) 14:14, 4 February 2015 (UTC)
I'm your lady by Celine Dion matches the note progression and Brian's friends reactions. 09:01, 6 February 2015 (UTC)

E major, is a chord, not a note... 06:36, 4 February 2015 (UTC) You can listen to the sequence of notes here: http://onlinesequencer.net/65475 (All notes the same length, and just guessing which octave each should be in...) 06:36, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

Just because I want to get it stuck in your head :D, Added a bit to the beginning and end and changed octaves. http://onlinesequencer.net/65487 --Duhsn (talk) 07:40, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

The image on this page is NOT the same one as on the actual xkcd page. The original comic does not contain the reference to E Major. Andries (talk) 07:42, 4 February 2015 (UTC)Andries

Is he rick rolling us? 07:48, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

He must have agreed with your comment about E major not being a note and changed it. --Duhsn (talk) 07:54, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

"and his friends Mike and Caitlin appear to be becoming concerned about his choice of music"... really? I thought they were upset that they were getting spammed by a post every second or so? "and the notion that someone could become concerned about you based on a list of notes is even more ridiculous."... similarly, not so ridiculous if they're concerned about you spamming them with too many postings! Finally, "The comic's title alludes to the fact that you can "play a song" but can also "play a note." It may also allude to the visual similarities between the hash/pound/number sign (#) and the sharp sign (♯)."... I don't get either of these references. The hash/sharp comparison is cute, except that the sharp sign doesn't appear in the comic. I took it as a simple extension of the usual someone is listening to some song messages linking to searches for that song "on various online music stores" if you click on them... that is, if you click on a particular note, it'll link to a search for songs that include that note - equally as useless as posting the individual notes of a song in the first place. Extra-finally, I'd love to see Mike & Caitlin's reactions if Brian listened to anything with a glissando... Haven't made any of these as changes as I'm not sure they're more than just my own opinion. 07:55, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

Okay, so I've redone the second paragraph for facts, but haven't touched any of the other opinion bits. 08:40, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

Text may also be a reference to an old joke about a composer who writes, and copyrights, a composition consisting of a single note: middle C. All other composers who later included middle C would thus be quoting his composition, entitling him to royalties; all composers who used any OTHER note would be simply transposing the original composition into another key, and would still owe the royalty..." (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I've changed the thing about Mike & Caitlin being concerned about music choice, as this is (as noted by other commentators) *much* less likely than their being concerned about having their news feeds spammed. 09:25, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

Would the Axis of Awesome 4 Chords song be a proper citation to prove many (pop) songs are made up of the same chords? Link of their youtube: http://youtu.be/oOlDewpCfZQ I think it would be funny, at least. 14:03, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

Why are the times out of order? 14:59, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

Brian's system or the one hat runs the social network might run on an older Version of Xen, so it gets "time went backwards" isses (e.g., http://bugzilla.xensource.com/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=195) and therefore wrong timestamps. Do we require to re-order the notes accordingly? Renormalist (talk) 16:09, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

Btw, I interpreted Mike's comment not as annoyance about the entry flooding but that he can "hear" the melody in his head (like Beethoven) and hears a wrong tune. And maybe it's a small special community (like in xkcd/1305, which would also fit to the timestamp issues they have) so he starts discussing that wrong tune. Renormalist (talk) 16:45, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

I tried to correct the image, twice, and it still stays the same with the original error. I did this after adding the trivia section with the original image. Hope someone can correct this --Kynde (talk) 17:48, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

Try clearing your browser cache. The image looks correct on my screen. KieferSkunk (talk) 18:53, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

Totally nerd sniped.. Musipedia seems to think the closest melodic match is "Cream" by Eric Clapton... Hard to get without seconds (so you can get some idea of the rhythm) BadPirate (talk) 20:32, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

Surprising no one has mentioned the contrast with John Cage's "As Slow As Possible" now playing in the St Burchardi Church of Halberstadt, Germany. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/As_Slow_as_Possible Taibhse (talk) 21:47, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

I suspect the hypothetical service might have trouble with some John Cage works (http://youtu.be/zY7UK-6aaNA), as well as anything relying on nature or ambient sounds, or not conforming to the chromatic scale - untuned percussion instruments, or perhaps a didgeridoo or kazoo. 00:23, 5 February 2015 (UTC)
Except that "As Slow As Possible" is all tonal, chromatic scale, instrument not even specified though usually organ. The point being it is heard a single note (or chord) at a time, by design. The current performance is planned to last hundreds of years, though it has often been performed in a matter of hours or days. Taibhse (talk) 08:18, 5 February 2015 (UTC)

I removed speculations about chords from the explantion - the reference to E major was a mistake that has been fixed. Also, not all notes appear in all songs, so the search for a note won't return all songs. Each key signature only uses seven of the twelve notes, and each note appears only in seven of the twelve key signatures. Excursion: The question in which fraction of all songs a certain note appears might be interesting for musicologists, but also quite hard to even give an educated guess: Many songs contain a few notes that don't belong to their key, there are modulations, and last but not least, some key signatures are much more common than others - I would guess that in pop music, the upper right half of the circle of fifths (from F major to E major) accounts for at least 95% of all songs, which would mean that notes like C flat are much less common than C. Chrisahn (talk) 13:52, 7 February 2015 (UTC)

"twelve key signatures" ... "notes like C flat are much less common than C". Since you say there are only 12 (major) key signatures and not 15 you must be counting B/Cb, F#/Gb, and C#/Db major as the same keys. But then you talk about the note Cb (diatonic in 2 keys) like it's a different note from B (diatonic in 7 keys). You can't have it both ways. 18:55, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

Oops. You're right. Good catch. What do we do? Randall's bot probably distinguishes between C sharp / D flat. If we do that too, we'll have to distinguish between enharmonic keys. So how many keys (key signatures) are there? 15 is not enough either - it would exclude G-sharp major and F-flat major. It would be logically correct to say that there are infinitely many key signatures. ;-) I think useful answers could only be found empirically. Alas, I don't think any musicologist will bother to solve this riddle. Humanity will remain ignorant. Chrisahn (talk) 18:28, 15 February 2015 (UTC)

Might be "I want to break free" from Queen 19:16, 15 February 2015 (UTC)

The hashtag in the comic title means that I can’t type it in to the explain xkcd search bar (talk) 00:02, 14 March 2023 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

You can search for "NowPlaying" or "1482" and it'll be Ok. Not the first time that something Randall put in his published comic page that 'broke' the Wiki's attempt to stay faithful, not the last... But you got here, so all's well! 01:54, 14 March 2023 (UTC)