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Fun With Tags!


AudioDoctor
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See what I did there? If you get that joke I will know what TV show you like...

 

Anyway, Has anyone here who also happens to be a fan of classical music figured out a way to Tag the specific Orchestra that say, for example, performed with the headlining soloist, as in the example below. Right now I put both the Headlining Soloist and the Orchestra they performed with in Album Artist. Is their a better way?

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 5.29.32 PM.png

No electron left behind...

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I do it the same way as you, though I tend to put a '/' between the soloist and the orchestra, rather than "and the". The soloist and the orchestra are jointly the album artists. I usually put the conductor's name in as well.

So: Anne-Sophie Mutter / Berliner Philharmoniker - Manfred Honeck

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

- Einstein

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Maybe add more tags like soloist or orchestra. Download a free music player called Quodlibet. It comes with a tagging app called Ex Falso. Its great for the type of tagging you need. Its simple and powerful. I'm pretty sure it works with Mac, PC and Linux. If you happen to use Linux, try Puddletag as well.

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What's the purpose? Is it to make sorting easier or something else?

 

Tagging classical music is known to be difficult.

 

On my NAS I use the iTunes type directory structure Artist/Album/Song and deciding the Artist name is difficult, well it might be good to keep all "Bach" together but ...

 

Don't think there is a definitive correct answer... it is a very interesting topic (to me) though...

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i use the tag <artist> for all artists playing -- that would include orchestras and solists. jriver allows you to put in as many as you like (separate with semicolon).

 

i use the tag "album artist" to organize my file system. i use <album artist>/<album>/<track> as my hierarchy. i put the orchestra as the <album artist>.

 

i can then search on whatever i like within jriver. i think everybody's got their own methodology for tagging . . .

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"Tagging classical music is known to be difficult.

 

On my NAS I use the iTunes type directory structure Artist/Album/Song and deciding the Artist name is difficult, well it might be good to keep all "Bach" together but ..."

 

That's why I suggested creating more fields. You can keep everything separate. (Composer, Orchestra, Soloist, Record label, etc..). That way, if you want to listen to the Soloist in the above post, isolating the soloist field allows you to look see everything in your library based on that criteria alone.

 

Another tool that I find is very useful is tabbed browsing. For example, you click the Genera tab, then artist, then album...etc, until you finally end up with what you are looking for.

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A+ offers all these incremental tags, including orchestra.

 

Right now I only have rather long artist list, usually "soloist; conductor; orchestra". I'm shying away from splitting out these tags into the individual additional A+ tag fields as a) it would be a ton of work and b) not sure if any other playback system in the world supports these tags.

 

But overall I'm like you, very OCD on my classical music tagging. I suppose we all have our little Sheldon inside.

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On the subject of compatibility, I'm using the Plex app as the front-end for my library these days. It only searches on album and artist, so having soloist, orchestra and conductor all in the artist field means I can search on any of those parameters using my phone.

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

- Einstein

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"Tagging classical music is known to be difficult.

 

On my NAS I use the iTunes type directory structure Artist/Album/Song and deciding the Artist name is difficult, well it might be good to keep all "Bach" together but ..."

 

I did that with the following hack: If the Album Artist field is present, iTunes will use AlbumArtist/Album/Song as the hierarchy, so I decided to duplicate the composer field in the case of classical music, purely to exploit this property of iTunes. (I don't think AlbumArtist has any real meaning for classical music.)

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I've never worried too much about directory structure as the library software uses the tags to group tracks by album etc., or is it different in iTunes?

 

Album artist can be meaningful in Classical albums for example in Handel's Messiah, where each track is performed by one or more soloists in various combinations or by the choir.

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

- Einstein

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I also use the Group tag field for the type of music (chamber, symphony, ballet, opera, etc), this is helpful when I'm in a particular mood. The view I created only works under Classical and the view name is "Classical by Type".

 

But the I use the orchestra, conductor, and composer fields thus freeing up the artist field.

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I've never worried too much about directory structure as the library software uses the tags to group tracks by album etc., or is it different in iTunes?

 

Album artist can be meaningful in Classical albums for example in Handel's Messiah, where each track is performed by one or more soloists in various combinations or by the choir.

 

You can scatter files randomly on your hard drive, and iTunes doesn't care, but if you want a quick way of creating a file system hierarchy with Composer/Album/track structure, this hack will do that, assuming you have the default option to let iTunes organize your music library's filesystem turned on. (You can do this, then turn that option off, and then change the Album Artist tag to whatever suits you, and your files will maintain that organization, but future entries will have to be made manually. There is no standard for "Album Artist" in classical music (or apparently other music), and often that field is unpopulated when you purchase or rip music -- at the very least it is populated inconsistently.)

 

I then do finer organization using iTunes "smart playlist" feature, so if for example I have eight different versions of Beethoven's Sixth symphony, and I add another, it will automatically show up under the appropriate "smart playlist" that aggregates all of Beethoven's Sixth symphonies, and it will show up automatically in another "smart playlist" that sorts by conductor, sorts by orchestra, etc. This requires that the information is tagged in there somewhere.

 

The intent of the "Album Artist" field is to have one tag common to all the tracks in an album that has multiple different artists, so that those tracks all land in the same directory. If this isn't a concern, it is implicitly redundant to the "Album" tag.

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The intent of the "Album Artist" field is to have one tag common to all the tracks in an album that has multiple different artists, so that those tracks all land in the same directory. If this isn't a concern, it is implicitly redundant to the "Album" tag.

Leaving aside the question of having all the tracks in the same directory, the Album Artist field is also necessary so that the library software can tell that an album with different artists is not several albums with the same name. I've had that problem with some downloaded albums - for instance Blue Coast Collection 2 appeared as eight albums, because the "Album Artist" field in each track was the same as the "Artist" field and I had to fix that manually to make it appear as one album.

 

Thanks for the tip about the iTunes hack. It could be a handy way to clean up one's directory structure, even if you don't use iTunes as your library software. It's a shame iTunes doesn't give you the option of changing your directory heirachy. The old Musicmatch Jukebox software did that, but did not have an option to reorganise your directory tree.

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

- Einstein

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It's a shame iTunes doesn't give you the option of changing your directory heirachy. The old Musicmatch Jukebox software did that, but did not have an option to reorganise your directory tree.

Hey, it looks like Foobar 2000 can do exactly that: http://www.geek-spire.com/easy-management-of-large-music-libraries-with-foobar2000/

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

- Einstein

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This is what my system looks like now. I let iTunes manage my music files on my iMac, that music folder then gets backed up to the NAS, with versioned backups, and transferred to the Aurender X100. I have been on a real tagging mission lately to clean up and organize the music folder in a systematic way. The more information I can provide in the tags, the more organized I can be, ideally. WGScott is correct, iTunes does sort first by Album Artist if that tag is present, which is why I try to use that instead of Artist. From time to time it would be nice to sort by Orchestra. iTunes doesn't have that feature, that I am aware, but Jriver and the Aurender both do. iTunes would just ignore the tag if it were there, I think.

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Maybe so. But, I much prefer a tagger that sticks with established standards for the tagging formats. AFAIK, Foobar does not. So, if someday you wish to migrate your library and all your manual tag edits, which are inevitable with classical, to some other tool, with Foobar, you might have a problem.

 

My choice is JRiver, partly because my library is hi rez Mch, mainly from SACD. With it, I can write all tagging edits back into the media file in standard tag format for just about any available media file format that supports tagging. If someday I want to switch tools, I just need to reimport my media files.

 

With help from friends in JRiver, I have over 2,500 classical hi rez, mostly Mch SACD discs nicely tagged. We used only one new "custom" field beyond JRiver's standard definitions, which is Composition. That field will also be written back along with all standard ones, cover art, etc. into the media files, and those fields can easily be remapped into any other scheme that uses standard tag formats. The standard Name field available in most any tagging system to delineate the track, we use for the name of the movement.

 

Most often, I drill down from composer to genre to album to composition. Genre, as we use it, is symphony, concerto, cantata, oratorio, chamber, piano, etc. But, I can simply switch to an Artist view, and drill down from there, touch pad selecting everything without any typing on my iPad with JRemote. The number of other views I can set up is almost infinite. It is very cool, quick and efficient - a pleasure to use.

 

I can customize my view to drill down in a different way, such as by album artist, etc. We decided not to define and maintain additional custom fields, like period or any others. Composer handles period for us, and our composer tags contain the composer's dates in parens.

 

And, of course, there is always a search of all or selected tag fields by typed text. But, I never use that.

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Maybe so. But, I much prefer a tagger that sticks with established standards for the tagging formats. AFAIK, Foobar does not.
I wasn't suggesting using Foobar for creating tags - just using its claimed ability to organise a directory structure based on existing tag data.

However, as I understand it, neither Foobar nor JRiver uses a non-standard tagging format of its own. Rather, they both support the standards which are a property of various music file formats and containers (ogg, mp4, mpc, ape, wma).

 

My usual file format is FLAC, which uses the Vorbis tag format. Vorbis imposes no restrictions on the names of tags, but it is wise to stick with common usage - Album, Artist, Name, Track, Genre, etc. Once those tags are created, they should be readable by an software which supports FLAC, regardless of what software was used to create those tags.

 

I have long used JRiver as my library manager, but I find MP3Tag more efficient for tag editing. Despite its name, it supports all the common tag formats.

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

- Einstein

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Here is an interesting real world dilemma... Anne-Sophie Mutter plays Mendelssohn, with Andre Previn, Lynn Harrell, and for 3 songs the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig with Kurt Masur conducting. Where to put the Orchestra for those 3 songs.

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 8.59.51 PM.png

 

Right now I have Kurt Masur conducting the first 3, but no place for the Orchestra

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 9.07.26 PM.png

No electron left behind...

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I can't see an Artist (as opposed to Album Artist) field in your screenshot, but if it was me, I would have Anne-Sophie Mutter / Gewandhausorchester Leipzig - Kurt Masur for the Concerto, Anne-Sophie Mutter / Lynn Harrell / André Previn for the Trio and Anne-Sophie Mutter / André Previn for the Sonata - all in the Artist (not the Album Artist) field.

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

- Einstein

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I can't see an Artist (as opposed to Album Artist) field in your screenshot, but if it was me, I would have Anne-Sophie Mutter / Gewandhausorchester Leipzig - Kurt Masur for the Concerto, Anne-Sophie Mutter / Lynn Harrell / André Previn for the Trio and Anne-Sophie Mutter / André Previn for the Sonata - all in the Artist (not the Album Artist) field.

 

Thats what I was just thinking, I have done that already with albums like this one:

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 10.13.20 PM.png

No electron left behind...

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I wasn't suggesting using Foobar for creating tags - just using its claimed ability to organise a directory structure based on existing tag data.

However, as I understand it, neither Foobar nor JRiver uses a non-standard tagging format of its own. Rather, they both support the standards which are a property of various music file formats and containers (ogg, mp4, mpc, ape, wma).

 

My usual file format is FLAC, which uses the Vorbis tag format. Vorbis imposes no restrictions on the names of tags, but it is wise to stick with common usage - Album, Artist, Name, Track, Genre, etc. Once those tags are created, they should be readable by an software which supports FLAC, regardless of what software was used to create those tags.

 

I have long used JRiver as my library manager, but I find MP3Tag more efficient for tag editing. Despite its name, it supports all the common tag formats.

 

 

I think the standard tag fields defined in most all formats - album, artist, name, etc. - are just insufficient for classical tagging. They be fine for pop, jazz, etc., but not classical. So, having a superset of those, like JRiver does, is necessary. Even then, we have found it necessary to add custom additional fields, the one - Composition - in our case is most critical.

 

I have another custom field, Classical, with values of blank or No, which I have filled in. That simplifies viewing just my classical albums or just my non-classical, or both, via standard views I have created in JRiver. The Genre field has too many different values as we have used it in either classical or non-classical to be efficient in looking at different main segments of the library. Mostly, classical recordings as distributed just have the value Classical for Genre. That is useless, so we override that with Symphony, Concerto, Ballet, Opera, Rock, Jazz, Folk, etc., etc.

 

 

But, JRiver already has Conductor and Orchestra as separate tag fields in answer to the OP's concern. We fill those in. There are others in JRiver, too, such as Publisher = record label. Of course, you must fill those in yourself because they are not in the media files themselves as distributed. Once edited to your liking, all those fields, including any custom fields, can be rewritten back into the media file.

 

I have tried Tag&Rename, but not MP3Tag. Does MP3Tag support custom additional fields or even Conductor, Orchestra, Publisher, etc. It did not appear to when I looked at it. Tag&Rename does not, limiting its use severely for me.

 

Navigating JRiver for tagging may be a bit clumsy at first, but you get used to it and efficient with it. I especially like the way it will give you a pull down list of all values already entered for that field in your library after you type a few characters. So, while tagging Composer, typing Bee gives me the correct spelling of Beethoven, Ludwig van, identical to and consistent with the rest of my library. It fills it in correctly with a mouse click, or allows me to type something completely new, if appropriate. Ditto for other tag fields. That saves much typing and ensures much greater consistency across the library. And, of course, filling in multiple or all tracks on an album with the same tag value is simple. Just highlight them while tagging.

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