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How do you use the Genre tag?


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The complaints regarding classical music are well-documented, but even for non-classical music, it seems like the "Genre" metadata tag is a total, random, mess. For example, what defines pop vs. rock vs. classic rock vs. alternative? I can go on, and it only gets more arbitrary and worse, but this is the essential point. Is there any sort of definitive reference or standardized classification? I find the designations so arbitrary that it becomes almost meaningless, and you can purchase the same music from different sources with completely different entries. I've even seen Bluegrass listed as Country and Western, for example.

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Bill, like you I hand-craft much of my metadata.

 

So how do I use the genre tag?

In ways that are meaningful to me.

That's all that counts.

 

So even though one might cite The Beatles as the best pop band ever, for example, I tag them as rock.

 

But probably for me, the genre tag is the least important bit among all the metadata fields.

I mean, I hardly ever choose an album or track on the basis of its genre.

 

Dave, who notes that his wife did choose to play a morning's worth of music by picking the Blues tag

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Music is love, made audible.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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I try to keep it simple - I have only a very few genres I use consistently:

 

Classical

Jazz

Broadway

Pop

Rock

Classic Rock

Folk

Country

Bluegrass

Christmas

 

I'd say 3/4s of my library of ~80k tracks falls into once of these genres - that said, there are probably 100 other genres in the library I need to clean up at some point :/

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the genre tag is the least important bit among all the metadata fields.

 

... which is why I would like to put it to better use.

 

Ultimately, I use these things to try to find stuff more quickly. I think the ability to tag with multiple genres (or other redundant metadata tags) could be really powerful. But then I might have to ditch iTunes for file management.

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So how do I use the genre tag?

In ways that are meaningful to me.

That's all that counts.

 

+1

 

I have Billy Joel filed under "Male Vocals" because that's how I relate to his music nowadays. I do use the genre tag to search for music over JRemote and it's a great way to find music that suits a mood.

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Genre is tough for everybody except musical critics :)

I'd say it is probably even tougher for music critics, as they are aware of all the nuances.

 

The real problem is that most music players only allow one genre. A much better approach would be multiple genres, like this you could put all those borderline cases into several boxes.

 

For classical music it gets worse. Itunes obviously throws 500 years of music history into one genre "Classical", I personally have about 20 self defined subcategories (from Baroque Chamber to Organ Works).

 

Ideally, for classical music one should have at least a dual way of categorizing, one by period (e.g. Early, Baroque, Wiener Klassik, Romantic, 20th century) and one by type of work (e.g. chamber, orchestral, vocal).

 

For Jazz, I have a separate category for Piano Trios and Solo Piano, as I like them a lot.

 

However, all my 1980s and beyond contemporary stuff gets thrown into the generic "pop" category (with some exceptions allowed for Rock).

 

I'm rambling here, but in essence I don't think we'll ever have a universal genre system.

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So how do I use the genre tag?

In ways that are meaningful to me.

That's all that counts.

 

 

+2

All that matters is I know where to find them. I use Genre as my first step of organization in JRiver. I also design my own genre meta tag classification. Very similar to how I design folder names and place audio files on my hard drive.

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I'd say it is probably even tougher for music critics, as they are aware of all the nuances.

 

The real problem is that most music players only allow one genre. A much better approach would be multiple genres, like this you could put all those borderline cases into several boxes.

 

Good point. JRiver allows multiple entries for genres and I do use this feature.

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Bill, like you I hand-craft much of my metadata.

 

So how do I use the genre tag?

In ways that are meaningful to me.

That's all that counts.

 

So even though one might cite The Beatles as the best pop band ever, for example, I tag them as rock.

 

But probably for me, the genre tag is the least important bit among all the metadata fields.

I mean, I hardly ever choose an album or track on the basis of its genre.

 

Dave, who notes that his wife did choose to play a morning's worth of music by picking the Blues tag

 

Pretty much the same. I try to use just a few genres, and mostly avoid sub-genres. The use of genres by the record labels is nonsensical - sometimes even within the same album.

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Genres were just invented for lazy book (and music) sellers.

 

Though actually I have a few overriding genres _Pop / Rock; _Alternative; _Blues; _Jazz and then have other genres which I can drill down though (using minimserver and apps such as Naim App or Kazoo). Generally I just copy and past the genre's from AllMusic on a album by album basis - this is still a work in process though.

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Ultimately, I use these things to try to find stuff more quickly.

 

Me too. That's why, like the others, I use relatively few genres that are geared to the way I'm likely to browse.

 

I think the ability to tag with multiple genres (or other redundant metadata tags) could be really powerful. But then I might have to ditch iTunes for file management.

 

If you'd be likely to search for stuff using more "precise" genres, then it would be useful to you. The problem I see is that the more genres you have, the more editorial decisions you have to make about what genre(s) a particular work belongs to. And then you kind of have to remember these decisions. Personally, I have a lot of trouble remembering what I've classified as "Rock" vs "Pop."

 

I feel like genre classification is always going to be subjective to some extent. Even if there were a standard taxonomy, it still wouldn't necessarily make sense — here and there — to a particular user, so the extent to which it wasn't intuitive would make it that much less useful.

 

If you'd like a taste of how having lots and lots of genres plays out with your library, check out the Roon trial. Much as I like Roon, it seems to me they have a ways to go in working out the kinks in this area.

 

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+1. think I have 15 genres defined which makes the editorial process much simpler; since the "colour-variation" between genres is then greater.

 

There are way too many sub-genres that could be used, which would firstly give me the editorial problem but then, if I were to rely on genres as a sort criteria, also a search problem since many pieces of music could fall on one day into one sub-genre, the next day into a different one.

 

I even have a single genre Rock+Pop. No more worrying about what falls between the two, whether it's really Prog Rock etc.

 

My genre list was based on something I found via CA (sorry cannot recall the reference), which listed the mainline genres used by some big music suppliers and databases:

 

Alternative

Blues

Classical

Comedy

Country+Folk

Dutch Pop (because I live here and want to keep it separate)

Electronic

Hip Hop

Jazz

Kids

Other

Rock+Pop

Soundtrack

Spoken

Sports

World

 

Maybe I could do with "Vocal" as well, but so far it works for me........

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Like many here I step all over the Genre tag and force everything into the handful of bins I can relate to.

 

However, I use JRiver a lot as my main player and it gives two additional features; 1) you can have multiple genres, just seperate them with a semicolon (;), this way I get get to The Beatles through Rock or Pop, and 2) I use the Group tag as a sub genre field, this is really handy with classical music where I can subsort out opera, ballet, symphony, chamber, etc.

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smart playlists gives similar functionality in iTunes.

 

I think one of the problems is that the music industry itself promotes meaningless terms like "alternative" and "techno" and "house" and "industrial". I especially hate "alternative." Tom Waits is "alternative"? Alternative to what? Rock? "Conventional" blues?

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smart playlists gives similar functionality in iTunes.

 

I think one of the problems is that the music industry itself promotes meaningless terms like "alternative" and "techno" and "house" and "industrial". I especially hate "alternative." Tom Waits is "alternative"? Alternative to what? Rock? "Conventional" blues?

 

Funnily enough, Tom Waits is the only artist I have in the "Alternative" genre, as I've no clue how to classify him otherwise.

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I think one of the problems is that the music industry itself promotes meaningless terms like "alternative" and "techno" and "house" and "industrial". I especially hate "alternative." Tom Waits is "alternative"? Alternative to what? Rock? "Conventional" blues?

 

Yah, "alternative" and "indie rock" are two often interchangeable genre terms.

 

I read somewhere that one term is used more in the UK and the other in the US, but I don't remember which is which.

I use both terms, but am not really fixed (which kinda makes the genre listing less useful).

 

Roughly, for me, certain contemporary music that goes beyond folk is "alternative."

For example, I see that I have the Cowboy Junkies listed as "alternative."

 

And on the other side, certain contemporary music that goes beyond rock is "indie rock."

For example, I see that I have R.E.M. listed as "indie rock."

 

That makes sense, at least to me, at least some of the time, at least partially.

At the least.

 

Dave, who would not look to defend these genre listings in a court composed of CA denizens

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Music is love, made audible.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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"Indie" (independent), as I know, it is not genre term. It is musician/band that manage/promote yourself (not managed/promoted by recording label).

These musician can play in different genres.

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"Indie" (independent), as I know, it is not genre term. It is musician/band that manage/promote yourself (not managed/promoted by recording label).

These musician can play in different genres.

 

LOL, Remind me to tell that 25 year genre that they don't exist. Labeling a movement is just that, a label (different parts of the world, different labels), but we have to have descriptive short titles, so we go with it, but it's really about the music, is it not.

 

Okay, like it really matters what genre titles I use. Kind of fun, can tell you a lot about a persons music tastes, notice there is no rap, hip hop or contemporary country. LOL

 

New Wave

Indie

Classical

Main Rock

Folk

Soul

Jazz

Punk

Goth

Disco

Soundtrack

Holiday

 

Actually my video promo collection is far bigger and diverse than my audio only.

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The complaints regarding classical music are well-documented, but even for non-classical music, it seems like the "Genre" metadata tag is a total, random, mess. For example, what defines pop vs. rock vs. classic rock vs. alternative? I can go on, and it only gets more arbitrary and worse, but this is the essential point. Is there any sort of definitive reference or standardized classification? I find the designations so arbitrary that it becomes almost meaningless, and you can purchase the same music from different sources with completely different entries. I've even seen Bluegrass listed as Country and Western, for example.

 

Genre is likely the most problematic of all tags. You could easily classify a piece in multiple genres, so a single genre classification is something I personally don't bother with other than the most banal choices - like when I rip a Bill Evans CD I will stick "Jazz" as the genre but that's as helpful as a box of hair.

 

My choice would instead be to have a list of genre's - to which I might want to add a few - and allow me to tag files with multiple genre's. Only then this would make any sense to me. Actually a hierarchy of genres. For example:

 

Jazz

Piano

Solo

Trio

Bass

Vocal

Male

Female

 

Roon, btw, is working hard on this problem and I am very interested in what their solution will be.

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Genre is likely the most problematic of all tags. You could easily classify a piece in multiple genres, so a single genre classification is something I personally don't bother with other than the most banal choices - like when I rip a Bill Evans CD I will stick "Jazz" as the genre but that's as helpful as a box of hair.

 

My choice would instead be to have a list of genre's - to which I might want to add a few - and allow me to tag files with multiple genre's. Only then this would make any sense to me. Actually a hierarchy of genres. For example:

 

Jazz

Piano

Solo

Trio

Bass

Vocal

Male

Female

 

Roon, btw, is working hard on this problem and I am very interested in what their solution will be.

 

Actually my partner tells me that Spotify has a very sophisticated genre classification, with grades such as this is more electronica than ambient, etc, which makes a lot of sense. Yes, he's smart - I'm dumb (as a box of hair).

 

I would like to know...

1- Do ID3 tags support such complex classification?

2- Is there an app that can use Spotify to retag my local files? We have a Spotify premium subscription.

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