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Arranging your iTunes catalog.


sgbaird
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OK, here goes with my first of many questions that should help me get my (eventual) music server up and running as it needs to done. A lot has been said here and elsewhere about tags — a concept that seems simple enough to me — and how managing them can save you a lot of grief. My assumption is that a tag enables iTunes to work something like an advanced database program that will enable you to distinguish between two very similar records in your file, or any other for that matter.

 

My initial questions have to do with any known limitations in iTunes. Having read somewhere of some computer audio enthusiast having an enormous number of recordings — well past what most others could even think of — I'll guess that the program has no maximum number of CDs that can be put into a single library. It's also clear that using spotlight you can pick a single tune to playback, making scrolling through the many thousands of listings at the root of your library unnecessary. It seems to me, though, that separating your catalog first into genres might be helpful. Let's say you have an equal number of jazz, pop, and classical recordings in iTunes — about 500 of each. If you want to hear something classical, why not have a classical segment that enables you to see the names of composers with their various works listed alphabetically? Then, since there may be more than one recording of a specific work, a simple click on that title would take you to where you could choose one or the other.

 

I hope I am wrong here, but in its simplicity, it looks to me like someone with this kind of diversity might be forced to create a playlist for every CD in his collection, making it needlessly difficult to go from one recording to the next from a remote.

 

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Hey SGB - I'm not sure I follow yo on this one, but I'll give it a shot. I have a feeling this dialog will answer questions for many readers. I'm not saying I can answer the questions, but collectively we'll get it done.

 

I know of no iTunes limitations. There is thread here about the world's largest itunes library and that gentleman mentions nothing about limits.

 

When you mention spotlight, I am guessing you mean the built-in search function in iTunes for Mac? It probably is spotlight weaved into iTunes, so I am guessing you're right. I never scroll through my music unless I am undecided. The search works excellent.

 

For genres, the automatic population done by iTunes / Gracenote is fairly good. I had to adjust about 1% of my music to reflect what I thought was the appropriate genre. I often sort my library by genre by displaying the column in iTunes and clicking on it.

 

You can also display many other fields such as composer etc... and display them how you suggested above.

 

I'm not sure why you're suggesting a playlist for every CD. I think I am missing it. Please let me know what you are thinking. I have a feeling you are trying to do something that I don't do or I haven't seen before. Maybe I'll learn something new here, after all it is Christmas time.

 

 

- Chris

Founder

 

ComputerAudiophile.com

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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I'll make a stab at clarifying this, Chris.

 

My old iTunes library has 1509 tracks in it. Many of these — about 1000 of them — loaded onto the drive were sourced from my huge collection of various artist oldies compilations. It isn't important whether these tunes play in proper order as they appeared on the original CD, and, in fact, are not likely be loaded onto the new drive. The other 500 tunes in the present library, though, represent complete albums, many of which I'd prefer to play from start to finish in the correct order. This is especially important in classical works where the tracks on a CD need to be played in a specific order. But this is not confined to classical music; there are many concept albums (like The Who's Tommy) that also need to be played in a specific order. Other examples are of things like Harry Belafonte Live at Carnegie Hall or the great Getz/Gilberto live album are ordered on CD so that the tracks follow what happened during the actual performances. Even Joni Mitchell's great albums, Blue and Court And Spark, have a logical order to them although they are not concept albums in the strictest sense. Yet, if I search for an album by album title alone, the proper order is not always displayed.

 

I am most concerned here with classical listings. I'll have multiple performances of some works, but I will want to be certain that if I want to hear Eiji Oué's recording of The Rite of Spring instead of Antal Dorati's, that's what I'll pull up, with all of the tracks ordered properly.

 

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I too have similar issues that are easily solved when sitting at my Mac, but would be a different story from a remote.

 

When at my computer I usually find the album I want, then click the album column to sort by album. That puts the tracks in order. I also selected to view the track number column right next to song title. it is just a nice little extra that assures me I am listening in the order I want. I am a huge fan of listening to complete albums because many of them are meant to be played that way.

 

When using a remote to control iTunes there are a few unknowns. Some remotes look exactly like an iPod. This will work great for your needs because iPods put the tracks in order when browsing by album. The remotes that use a web browser may be a different story, but I am not 100% sure.

 

If I am on the right track let me know. We may have to do some additional research n this area.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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SG, here's how I do this kind of thing.

 

1. I make sure, when I rip the CD, that the genre and composer tags are something that I will remember. I have a lot of CDs that kind of share genres so this calls for some delicacy. I also give some thought to the artist, as this is one of Itunes' basic search fields. If the record has tracks by many performers, such as a CD that has Beethoven's 8th Symphony by one orchestra and the 7th by another, I call it a compilation.

 

2. Finding things: Itunes, in its basic view, has a four-pane window. The three panes at the top are Genre, Artist and Album. If I know what album I want to listen to, I click in the album column and then start typing the name. When the album is found and highlighted, its tracks show up in the lower window.

 

3. Track order: Note that when you click on the column headers in that lower window, the album tracks are sorted by that column. So, for those records you want to play in track order, be sure to click on the Track header, and you may have to do so twice to get it into ascending order. Note that this setting is persistent. This throws me fairly often.

 

4. Selecting columns to be displayed: If you control-click (right-click in Windows) on the column headers in that lower pane you can select which tags will be displayed. I have mine minimal: track title, track number, artist, album.

 

5. Creative playlists: I set up playlists for multi-CD sets, such as "Messiah" and "Tommy" so that it will play straight through. I also use playlists to break out one piece from a CD, such as the aforementioned 7th Symphony. Note that if you double-click on the little note symbol by the playlist name in your list, a separate window will open for that playlist. If I have more than one version of a piece I like I'll set up a playlist for them, too, such as two different versions of Beethoven's 6th Symphony. I also do playlists for shorter pieces that fit with each other.

 

So, as a specific example, let's say I want to play "Court and Spark" all the way through. I'd click in the "Album" pane, start typing "Court" and the album will come up. Make sure the tracks are in the right sequence and then I hit play.

 

Pardon me if this is basic, but the documentation for Itunes is terrible. Most of this I've found out through making mistakes, so I figure it may be non-obvious for others.

 

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Lord Chaos wrote: Pardon me if this is basic, but the documentation for Itunes is terrible. Most of this I've found out through making mistakes, so I figure it may be non-obvious for others.

 

Not only is the documentation "terrible," if you're running from Leopard and Safari, there are so many bugs that you can't even access Apple's online support! I am one of those mildly neurotic people who has to know exactly how everything works before I proceed. I like to know that when I do something it's done right the first time so that I don't spend a lot more time figuring out why something doesn't work the way it should. In the case of a mammoth iTunes library, I've lately been thinking that one of those "Idiot's Guide" type of books might actually have some decent information in it. The trouble is that poring over the TOCs of several at Amazon, I came away thinking that nobody but me must think this important.

 

I actually did learn something via some seat-of-the-pants fooling around with the software: you can actually search in more than one field simultaneously. Surely, everybody else already knew this, but maybe what you didn't know is that if you search, for example, for Joni and Blue simultaneously the album pops up in the proper order automatically. I then tried this on several known complete albums in my library and got the hoped-for results in each instance. I can see where this will be helpful for most cases, however, I have not yet tried to see if it will search on the "Composer" field (available thru iTunes prefs) as well as title and artist fields concurrently. Maybe that way a search on _Sibelius, Davis & 2_ will bring up Colin Davis' performance of the Sibelius 2nd Symphony with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and none of the other recordings of this work I would intend to add to the library.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"The trouble is that poring over the TOCs of several at Amazon, I came away thinking that nobody but me must think this important."

 

I feel like that all the time! I never find a book that covers what I want, I always end up doing the research online, going to hundreds of site and reading what seems like millions of forum posts to get what I want. Once the content of this site gets built up the site should be a one-stop-shop for all this information.

 

I am also a person who has to know everything about a product before I try it. Sometimes the research is also a fun part of the project.

 

Thanks for posting your iTunes search information. If you just learned this there are many others that haven't even thought of the question yet!

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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Could you please explain how you search? All I know is to type something into the little Q window at the top of the Itunes panel and see what comes up. What you're describing sounds better, but I dont know where to start.

 

As for product research... Yes, I do that, but after a while get tired of it. In the case of the Benchmark DAC1 it was a hit. With the Archos AV500 it was a miss, mainly because my intended use of this was different from most people's, so the issues I ran into never arose for them. I researched digital cameras for about 3 years before finally buying one, which was an interim step toward eventually getting a digital single-lens reflex.

 

So, I'm with you on the "Nobody but me thinks this is important" observation.

 

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knew.

 

Apparently the wizards at Apple who wrote the code for iTunes knew that people would want to _drill down_ to a specific album, but what I found out is that the tags business means that when I searched on an artist's name only, all of the tunes credited to him/her would pop up, but the song titles weren't always grouped properly. I suppose this is OK if you have only 1 album by a particular artist on your hard drive, but, if you own 32 John Coltrane albums like I do, then that gets a little unmanageable. As earlier reported, I also found out that if I searched by album title only, the tunes on that album would not emerge in proper order all of the time; about half the time they were out of order, but I don't know why.

 

Edit. Had to leave unexpectedly yesterday, so this follow-up is meant to explain the above a bit more. When your iTunes library is populated with thousands of items, it is likely that similar words will be contained in several of your fields. For example, I used the word, Blue, above along with the name, Joni (for the artist, Joni Mitchell), to explain that iTunes apparently searches multiple fields concurrently. When I discovered that using these two parts of information contained in the artist and album title fields, it became clear to me that this enables us to do an almost instant reduction to precisely the album one would be searching for. Of course, artists who use the same or similar words in their album titles might need more distinction. What interests me most about this is that the search encompasses all of the fields, so your searches can bring up precisely what you are looking for. I find this especially helpful when you might not have a precise recollection of a complete title or artist name. (I have not yet decided how to define a distinction between Vivaldi's Four Seasons and the 1960s popular group, The Four Seasons, yet, but I can say with certainty that CDDB has not standardized such things.)

 

I cannot explain why searching on two fields concurrently will bring up an album in the correct order while searching on 1 field value will not (all of the time).

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

While adding music to iTunes I made a couple custom additions to the genre field in the "get info" screen. Somehow I added the same genre twice. Now I can't delete one of the duplicates. Anyone know how to do this? Thanks,

 

RHA

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Hey RHA - I would like to see what this looks like and who you got where you did. Can you start a new forum topic for this issue? That way you can attach a screenshot if you want to give people a view of what you're looking at. Thanks RHA!

 

You could also email me a screenshot and I can create the new forum topic etc...

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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