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Topic: Classical music tagging (Read 7943 times) previous topic - next topic
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Classical music tagging

There were threads on classical music tagging before, but I don't want to ask "how to" but rather I'd like to ask "do you see any possible problems with the tagging scheme I want to use". I thought that it would be safer to ask for input before I spend days with mp3tag.

There are two reason why I want to tag or retag my classical music collection. First, tags that one gets automatically from freedb are a mess. So far I got around it with folder-based organization of music, which, with clever title formatting, worked very well in foobar. It allowed me to replicate multi-level classification of classical music, e.g. a folder cold be named "Z:\Music\Classical\#Brahms\Symphonies\4\Kleiber" and have four files with four movements of the symphony. Title formatting was used to display the path as "Brahms  Symphonies  4  Kleiber".

But the second reason for retagging is that I started using Sansa Fuze+, which has no folder browsing. The library uses album, artist, and title tags, and that's it. No chance to use "performer", or "composer", or "genre". So I need to come up with a tagging scheme that will provide as much information as possible in a useful way in these three tags.

Here is what I am leaning towards now, please let me know what do you think, in particular, if you see any possible problems.

Artist: Composer, e.g., Bach JS

Album: Name of the work and name of the performer(s), depending on the type of work it could be ensamble, conductor, soloist. If the same performer recorded the piece more than once, then year follows. E.g., Johannes-Passion BWV 245 - Herreweghe 1988 or Harpsichord Conc BWV 1054 D - Musica Alta Ripa. I am not entirely sure what to do with certain multi-part works, for now I think that Brandenburg Concertos will be tagged as 6 separate works, while Die Kunst der Fuge or Das Wohltemperierte Klavier as one work.

Title: Track number and movement/part name, e.g., 33 Und siehe da, der Vorhang im Tempel zerriß, or 02 Adagio e piano sempre. The track numbers are changed from CD-based to work-based. Thus, if there are two 4-movement symphonies on a CD, each will be tagged as tracks 1 to 4. Similarly, the recording of St. John's Passion I mentioned above spans two discs, with 20 tracks on CD1 and 19 tracks on CD2, but it will be tagged as tracks 1-39. I know that putting track numbers into title is redundant, but I want to be able to see the numbers on the PMP, and the track tag is not visible there.

So, any comments or suggestions?
Ceterum censeo, there should be an "%is_stop_after_current%".

Classical music tagging

Reply #1
Depending on how you actually access the recordings, you might want to think on whether or not it would be worthwhile to begin Album with <Composer>:

Somebody who produced a PMP with a tagging display that actually accommodated classical music could probably get a healthy premium for it.

Classical music tagging

Reply #2
The media player on my main system (J River) has all the tags like Album, Album Artist, Artist, Composer, Title, Performer, Conductor, Orchestra, etc.

As I do think support for these tags is the way it should be, I use most of them.
Album I use for the Work (CD title I copied to the comment field)
Artist I use for the somewhat arbitrary chosen main performer
Album Artist for all performers (multiple values)

Indeed the moment I move some recordings to my portable I miss the composer, performer, conducter, etc tags.
I solved this by having Album prefixed with the Composer.
This is also convenient on the main system as having your albums sorted by work e.g. say Sonate… is not very informative.

Nothing wrong with your approach, in fact it is recommended by Slimdevices but I rather have something working best on my main system and compromise this as little as possible for portable use.
TheWellTemperedComputer.com

Classical music tagging

Reply #3
While cosmetically different, your proposed scheme is fundamentally the same as mine, which has worked very well for me.  I have hundreds of classical CDs and thus far it has scaled well.  I worry now and again whether it will become unwieldy once I pass a certain threshold, but so far I've had no problems.

I wish all players I used made it easy to use all sorts of various tags (soloist, conductor, ensemble, etc.), but they don't, and this is the best method I've found to shoehorn everything into the "standard" tags.

Classical music tagging

Reply #4
Practically I use the same method. Since my DAP does not scroll the album tag (only the title), I keep it as short as possible, so in this case I would use "Johannes-passion - Herreweghe 1988" without the BWV number, as Bach only composed one St. John Passion.
I do not use track numbers in the title, either, only in the file name. So I would have "Und siehe da, der Vorhang im Tempel zerriß" as title, and "33 Und siehe da, der Vorhang im Tempel zerriß" as file name.
I tag the Brandenburg Concertos as one album (because I have more than one recording of them), so the title contains the name of the work.
In case of two symphonies on a CD, if they are from the same composer, then I generally make them one album, e.g. "Symphonies - Harnoncourt", this way I keep the number of albums low. But your method is also good.

Classical music tagging

Reply #5
Practically I use the same method. Since my DAP does not scroll the album tag (only the title), I keep it as short as possible


Sounds familiar to me.
A lot of media players are designed with pop music in mind.
Classical music is something old, must be Elvis Presley or so….
TheWellTemperedComputer.com

Classical music tagging

Reply #6
Thanks everyone for your input.

Depending on how you actually access the recordings, you might want to think on whether or not it would be worthwhile to begin Album with <Composer>:

I'll think about it, but on my player I will probably go to "Artist" (i.e., composer) and see a long list of "Albums" (i.e., works), so inserting Composer into album should not be necessary.

The media player on my main system (J River) has all the tags like Album, Album Artist, Artist, Composer, Title, Performer, Conductor, Orchestra, etc.

Yes, computer-based players are pretty capable and flexible, but portable players are usually limited. Even if my current player could use more than Album/Artist/Title (it actually can use Genre as well), I would probably stick to these three because they seem to be guaranteed to be supported by any player.

I solved this by having Album prefixed with the Composer.
This is also convenient on the main system as having your albums sorted by work e.g. say Sonate… is not very informative.

As I said, my main system uses a more elaborate scheme and it does not seem to be a problem. Prefixing album (work) with Composer increases length of the tag, which can be an issue on a small screen of a portable player. And, as I said above, I would first select Artist (i.e., composer) to see all works (Albums) by this composer, so I won't need to see the composer name again.

I have hundreds of classical CDs and thus far it has scaled well.  I worry now and again whether it will become unwieldy once I pass a certain threshold, but so far I've had no problems.

Thanks, your testimony makes me more comfortable with my decision to devote a lot of time to re-tagging :-)

Practically I use the same method. Since my DAP does not scroll the album tag (only the title), I keep it as short as possible, so in this case I would use "Johannes-passion - Herreweghe 1988" without the BWV number, as Bach only composed one St. John Passion.

Right, I'll double-check how it looks like on my PMP. I like to have BWV/KV/Op. etc. number visible, but it can be removed from tags of works whose title is unambiguous. By the way, I think there is evidence that Bach composed 5 passions, so maybe I should keep the BWV number just in case one of the lost passions is found and turns out to be another John's passion ;-)

I do not use track numbers in the title, either, only in the file name.

My PMP cannot display file names (or track numbers), thus, I prefer to add them. Not only will they help telling which of possibly many Allegros is going to be played, but also they may be useful if sorting is needed and 'real' track numbers are not accessible on a player.

I tag the Brandenburg Concertos as one album (because I have more than one recording of them), so the title contains the name of the work.

I am still contemplating what to do here. I also have more than one recording of Brandenburg Concertos, but this does not preclude tagging them as separate works/albums. I would have Brandenburg Concerto 1 - Il Giardino Armonico, then BC 1 - Goebel, then BC 2 - In Giardino Armonico, etc. I think that there is no definite solution, this is a matter of feelings - do I feel this is more of a single multi-part work, or a cycle of works. For me, Brandenburg Concertos fall into the 'cycle' category, same as Solo cello suites, or Orchestral Suites, while Die Kunst der Fuge would be a multi-part work. I cannot justify it really, and everybody's choice will be different, up to tagging The Ring as one work or, on the other extreme, tagging each Goldberg Variation as a separate work. On the other hand, leaning towards multi-part works would reduce the number of "albums".

In case of two symphonies on a CD, if they are from the same composer, then I generally make them one album, e.g. "Symphonies - Harnoncourt", this way I keep the number of albums low. But your method is also good.

I don't like keeping the original album structure, because it is often artificial, justified mainly by available space. Think of Beethoven overtures being notoriously used to fill up symphony CDs. Also pairings are sometimes weird. I have Mozart's piano concerto No. 5 paired with 25 (Perahia) - does not make sense at all. Worse, there are albums with works from different composers, the most obvious example are Grieg's and Schumann's piano concertos which are very often paired. Keeping them as the same "Album" would cause a confusion with the Artist (i.e., composer) tag.

A lot of media players are designed with pop music in mind.
Classical music is something old, must be Elvis Presley or so….

   
Even worse, the tagging scheme is designed with pop music in mind.





Ceterum censeo, there should be an "%is_stop_after_current%".

Classical music tagging

Reply #7
I think that, dealing with classical, the tagging schema is, in the end, a matter of personal choice, because to be effective it has to reflect the "mental projection" that every collector has of his own collection.
But an objective issue is the inconsistency of tag management not only between different programs, but also between different formats, when the tagging schema is more complex than the basical artist/album/title.

I have ripped my entire CD collection in flac, using multiple "artist" tag on the same track to record the maestro, the orchestra and the other relevant solisti, so for example the tracks of Bach's Concerto per 4 cembali has 5 different "artist" tags with values as follow: "Kenneth Gilbert", "Lars Ulrik Mortensen", "Nicholas Kraemer", "Trevor Pinnock", "The English Concert". With Quodlibet on Linux I can create a "people" meta-tag adding also the "composer": quite happy with it. Unfortunately, transcoding to mp3 holds only one "artist" per track, the fist one, so the conversion is lossy in any sense! 
Still iTunes on Mac is able to do something useful with the "composer" tag, but on the remote controller app of the iPod Touch, as well as on its internal music manager, the composer is hidden between the "more options" tab. 
If then I change some of the tags on one of the formats, say to correct a misspelling, I haven't still find an automatic or otherwise easy way to have the other formats on which the same track is encoded, updated to reflect the correction.
... I live by long distance.

Classical music tagging

Reply #8
I think that, dealing with classical, the tagging schema is, in the end, a matter of personal choice, because to be effective it has to reflect the "mental projection" that every collector has of his own collection.
But an objective issue is the inconsistency of tag management not only between different programs, but also between different formats, when the tagging schema is more complex than the basical artist/album/title.


Exactly. I use "Artist" only because of compatibility reasons("whats being displayed on crappy targets like everything that starts with "i"). I use %composer%, %conductor%, %ensemble% (for orchestras, or in general a set of players) and %performers% for the soloists.



Classical music tagging

Reply #9
In case of two symphonies on a CD, if they are from the same composer, then I generally make them one album, e.g. "Symphonies - Harnoncourt", this way I keep the number of albums low. But your method is also good.

I don't like keeping the original album structure, because it is often artificial, justified mainly by available space.

Well, I also said that this is what I use, when the composer is the same.  E.g. I have Beethoven's symphonies on 5 CD's. They are coupled as Nos 1 & 3, Nos. 6 & 8, Nos. 2 & 5; Nos. 4 & 7 and No. 9.  I have only one album "Symphonies - Harnoncourt" and I number the movements according to the symphonies: Nos. 1-4 = Symphony No. 1, Nos 5-8 Symphony No.2 etc. In this way I have only one album (rather than 9), and within the album the symphonies are sorted from No. 1 to No. 9

Classical music tagging

Reply #10
In this way I have only one album (rather than 9), and within the album the symphonies are sorted from No. 1 to No. 9


Got it now.
Ceterum censeo, there should be an "%is_stop_after_current%".

Classical music tagging

Reply #11
In case of two symphonies on a CD, if they are from the same composer, then I generally make them one album, e.g. "Symphonies - Harnoncourt", this way I keep the number of albums low. But your method is also good.

I don't like keeping the original album structure, because it is often artificial, justified mainly by available space.

Well, I also said that this is what I use, when the composer is the same.  E.g. I have Beethoven's symphonies on 5 CD's. They are coupled as Nos 1 & 3, Nos. 6 & 8, Nos. 2 & 5; Nos. 4 & 7 and No. 9.  I have only one album "Symphonies - Harnoncourt" and I number the movements according to the symphonies: Nos. 1-4 = Symphony No. 1, Nos 5-8 Symphony No.2 etc. In this way I have only one album (rather than 9), and within the album the symphonies are sorted from No. 1 to No. 9

Yes, but unless you remember that no 6 has 5 movements and all the others have 4, you may come unstuck.