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Topic: Thinking on Giving up on the Genre Tag... (Read 2414 times) previous topic - next topic
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Thinking on Giving up on the Genre Tag...

Hi everyone,

I started tagging by Music collection 5 years ago, and the "Genre" tag always been a challenge. If I was lucky, FreeDB would hint about the proper genre, but now that FreeDB has died, and as far as I know - there is no real alternative - I took a step back to thinking about it.

Filtering by Genre is very hit and miss for me. Take "Metal" for example. There's so many sub-genre for Metal it's crazy. So I can just tag them all as "Metal". But then, it's very hard to find what your looking for (as I have a LOT of metal Albums). I could use sub-genres, like "Symphonic Metal", but then your going into the subjective land of genre. Some band would be a bit of that genre, and a bit of that. And by selecting "Symphonic Metal", you might not end find the specific tone you wanted to listen to. Sometimes a Metal band will release more acoustic tone to a specific album. So some of the songs will be indeed be Symphonic Metal, but some would be very classical. So defining a whole album by a single genre, is almost impossible. I know some players allow multiple genres, but that's still doesn't help with the multiple music styles in a single album (and many players doesn't support multiple genre, so it's hard to no be standard).

I'm thinking completely removing the Genre tag from my collection. Scratch that idea,  and instead - move into Playlists. Playlist will let me pick music by the mood I am, or the tone I'm looking for. It's harder to build, but more precise I guess

As a site subject - I'm not sure I'm happy with my "Not in Album" structure. A single track I bought, not an album. It currently put those in a folder called "Singles", but the list is pretty big by now - and the tags system is getting cluttered by a lot Albums, I don't really own (and only have one track from). I wonder if someone found a good system around single tracks?

Thanks!

Re: Thinking on Giving up on the Genre Tag...

Reply #1
From some tumblr post that currently doesn't exist:

Quote
genres are OUTDATED. i sort my music by thottiness, jammability, rebelliousness, theatricality, and depression.

Re: Thinking on Giving up on the Genre Tag...

Reply #2
Genre doesn't really work for me either, I have so much metal simply tagged "Rock/Pop". Some sources use <STYLE> for subgenre. You might - if you are bold - autotag your album collection using MusicBrainz Picard. But then I would surely have had tag backups ... or maybe copy back everything except genre. (You can do both with foobar2000. Backup with the External Tags component, and copy all by opening all in Properties and selecting all fields; then unselect genre. Ctrl-c, then let Picard do all "save" operations, let fb2k reload tags, Ctrl-v for the old tags, Apply.)

As for the aside:
A single track I bought, not an album. It currently put those in a folder called "Singles", but the list is pretty big by now - and the tags system is getting cluttered by a lot Albums, I don't really own (and only have one track from). I wonder if someone found a good system around single tracks?

Sorting by folder name and letting folders be named in the right order?
album artist then year then album title ["album version" at the end if appropriate]
... and with special characters ensuring that various artists end up at the end with the publisher or series instead of album artist.
Then "single tracks" are in a separate folder. You can force it first in the alphabet (" ! 0 " should end up early) or among various artists in the end.
High Voltage socket-nose-avatar

Re: Thinking on Giving up on the Genre Tag...

Reply #3
I have (miss-)used the genre tag to separate/pre-select the files like I have had my physical CD/LP collection: Pop/Rock, Folk/Folkrock, Classical, Krautrock and French/Italian.....and do it still that way, although I have added Soundtrack ....

Re: Thinking on Giving up on the Genre Tag...

Reply #4
Quote
genres are OUTDATED. i sort my music by thottiness, jammability, rebelliousness, theatricality, and depression.
Ring true to me :)

Quote
You might - if you are bold - autotag your album collection using MusicBrainz Picard.
I'm thinking about just deleting all the genre with Foobar. Name/Album etc are fine, so better not ruin it up with Picard :-) (by the way, There's a plugin to foobar that works with MusicBrainz (to some level), so no need to use Picard).

Quote
Then "single tracks" are in a separate folder. You can force it first in the alphabet (" ! 0 " should end up early) or among various artists in the end.
So you have folder called "Single tracks" and you put all single tracks in there? how do you tag them? do you add things like Albums and such? I find using Albums a bit clutter - because it add tons of Album to my tag list, where I only have a single song from that Album. Was thinking maybe changing all music in the Single folder to have the "Single" album tag to avoid that clutter. On the other hand, always fun to know from which Album this song it...

Re: Thinking on Giving up on the Genre Tag...

Reply #5
(by the way, There's a plugin to foobar that works with MusicBrainz (to some level), so no need to use Picard).
I use that for single albums. But Picard can look up 666 albums while you play music and/or do your daily routine.


Quote
Then "single tracks" are in a separate folder. You can force it first in the alphabet (" ! 0 " should end up early) or among various artists in the end.
So you have folder called "Single tracks" and you put all single tracks in there? how do you tag them? do you add things like Albums and such? I find using Albums a bit clutter - because it add tons of Album to my tag list, where I only have a single song from that Album. Was thinking maybe changing all music in the Single folder to have the "Single" album tag to avoid that clutter. On the other hand, always fun to know from which Album this song it...
The vast majority of the single files I have gotten my hands on, were already tagged with Album. Otherwise ... dump them into Picard ;-) That application also recognizes by audio fingerprint. Beware that Picard will every now and then identify it as part of some compilation album.
Again I have "solved" my sorting problem by having appropriate folder names and sorting by path, but there is also an easy solution if you don't want <ALBUM> populated for these: make your own tag like <TRACKTAKENFROM>.
High Voltage socket-nose-avatar

Re: Thinking on Giving up on the Genre Tag...

Reply #6
Quote
I use that for single albums. But Picard can look up 666 albums while you play music and/or do your daily routine.
So is it safe to say that MusicBrainz is the new FreeDB? :-) Because I had to admit I checked 1-2 albums, and they didn't have genre :-o
https://musicbrainz.org/release/ea139d20-8773-490f-935e-2ef37583c073 for example.

Re: Thinking on Giving up on the Genre Tag...

Reply #7
A good source of genres is the RateYourMusic where they are revised through discussion and voting. As far as I know there isn't a way to automatically copy them. I fill the genre field with 1 to 3 entries starting with a general category such as Rock followed by one or two narrow styles. But I don't really use or need genres. It is a standard field in media players and I feel that having it empty makes tagging appear incomplete. Simple media players with display either the first of the last genre, which is fine.

Re: Thinking on Giving up on the Genre Tag...

Reply #8
I agree it's "difficult", especially being constrained to one genre per song,  but I still find it VERY USEFUL -

I have a wide variety of music with many genres including Big Band, Broadway Soundtrack, Christmas Comedy, Halloween, Mexican, Ragtime, Zydeco, and more!

...I downloaded the new AC/DC album from Amazon and it came tagged as "pop"!  :D :D :D   I think I changed to "Hard Rock", or maybe just "Rock".    AC/DC call themselves a "Rock and Roll Band".   

Quote
A single track I bought, not an album. It currently put those in a folder called "Singles", but the list is pretty big by now
My physical structure doesn't exactly match the genre.    About half of my music is in a folder called "Rock And Popular".   I do have folders for "Christmas" & "Mexican" and some of the other special or unusual genres.

My folder structure is 'genre' > artist > album, and in the case of singles I have a sub-folder called "[Singles]" in place of (or at the same level as) the albums, so that's usually just one or sometimes two singles per artist.    But, I tag the song with the album it was originally released on (if there was an album).

I also have a top-level "Various Artist" folder with a sub-folder for each album.    In these folders the file name includes the artist, and the album-tag matches the various artist album it was actually ripped from.    There is another "Various Artist" sub-folder in the "Christmas" folder.

Re: Thinking on Giving up on the Genre Tag...

Reply #9
After struggling for many years with the genre tag I decided to give it up completely approx two years ago and never look back.

In fact I even emptied the genre tag for my entire personal/local collection. It was a inconsistent mess despite all my time consuming attempts to structure it well (both by hand and automatically).

Re: Thinking on Giving up on the Genre Tag...

Reply #10
Well, based on previous comment, I figured you can have multiple genres. I didn't know that possible. I'm using `genre1; genre2` and Foobar can detect that properly. I assume many other player won't - and just pick the first one.

Re: Thinking on Giving up on the Genre Tag...

Reply #11
A good source of genres is the RateYourMusic where they are revised through discussion and voting. As far as I know there isn't a way to automatically copy them....
An API is in the works, so there should be a RYM component someday ~ https://rateyourmusic.com/wiki/RYM:FAQ#Do%20you%20have%20an%20API%20/%20Web%20service?
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  ;~)

Re: Thinking on Giving up on the Genre Tag...

Reply #12
After struggling for many years with the genre tag I decided to give it up completely approx two years ago and never look back.

In fact I even emptied the genre tag for my entire personal/local collection. It was a inconsistent mess despite all my time consuming attempts to structure it well (both by hand and automatically).

I went there and came back, when in dire need for an additional level of sorting above the typical "Artist\Album (Year)\01 Track.mp3" file layout. (Use case: browsing my library outside of foobar2000 only via file system structure.) I settled for >30 hand-picked, totally custom genres that were not formed by pre-deciding on categories, but instead by forming clusters of similar albums and then attaching rough labels to those (e.g. there are "Ambient", "Downtempo", and "Easy listening" as a continuum of very silent to more busy, but still relaxing music). New genres are introduced once too many (different) albums clump in existing categories, while others are quite stable ("Classic rock" for example).


Re: Thinking on Giving up on the Genre Tag...

Reply #13
Currently I'm using genre1; genre2; etc., I also tag files with <Discogs Genre> and <Style>. I'm also considering a mood tag, a theme tag, a Time Of Day and Season tags. I'd like to find tag sources for these and more. great stuff for queries. Perhaps this sort of meta-data could be the foundation of a more self-intelligent playlist component? As well, it's shame Discogs doesn't use a cloud type genre structure. The imposed structure is biased towards electronic based music , is unusually structured, (as in folk/world/country as a single genre) and lacks many genres and subgenres; which is why RYM genres would be useful.

There's a pdf list of genres and subgenres: https://www.musicgenreslist.com/
There's Wikipedia's list of musical styles: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_music_styles
and a list of popular genres: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_popular_music_genres
Musicmap has a system of genres and super genres: https://musicmap.info/
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  ;~)

Re: Thinking on Giving up on the Genre Tag...

Reply #14
[...] I'd like to find tag sources for these and more. [...]

I spent years collecting and huntung such GENRE+STYLE information on Discogs, Allmusic, even Wikipedia. I never felt "at home", especially when there was no chance that a certain label/categorization would be "consistent" among one's whole collection, which is IMHO the main reason to have those tagged in the first place.

If I were to go for external "category"/"style" information, I would ditch all hope for such normalization and instead go the last.fm route of simply attaching everything to a strongly multi-valued TAGS tag and aim for overshooting instead of precision. It could contain instruments, styles, moods, regions, "tag lines" oder rarely used descriptions for a small shard in my collection.


Re: Thinking on Giving up on the Genre Tag...

Reply #15
I'm pretty thorough with the organization and tagging of my music.  However with genre tags, while I almost always fill them in, it's a bit of a crapshoot what I assign to some music.  I try to stick to general genres such a Metal, Pop, Rock, etc.  I have too many music groups that can be classified under a number of sub-genres.  Most of my music would fall under the Metal, Industrial, EBM genres.  For the small amount of pop and country music I have, the genre tags come in handy.

Re: Thinking on Giving up on the Genre Tag...

Reply #16
The "genre" field was the first one I gave up on, long ago. It is far too easy to mis-categorise something, it may be a sure thing who performed the song, or composed it, but the genre is a bit of a joke!
Not to mention, often times a number of different genres will be applicable to a song, and what do you do then, list all the applicable genres?
You have to take into account what genre the original performers were aiming for, if that's even possible, and also, what certain styles of music get called change sometimes in retrospect, especially if you're looking at things from the 60s, 70s, 80s. Much like music TASTE, the genre is largely a subjective field.

I have had a look at some of those pages linked above in this thread, where an attempt to list all musical genres and styles is made, and I have to say, even these fall short! it just goes to show, you can't trust "experts", or people on discogs.

I know I'm bringing up a niche thing here, but there are genres that definitely existed and were even acknowledged by the musicians playing them, that are not listed on the above pages. What do you do then? Well, you might stop trying to tear your hair about researching the stuff, and just call it as you see it, and where you fear being wrong, maybe just go with a broader genre than you'd like.

I just leave it blank, and sleep at night better because of it. I have a pretty good idea of the genre of the songs I listen to, never do i fail to pretty accurately describe what i'm listening to, what style it's in, I just don't write it down anywhere.

Re: Thinking on Giving up on the Genre Tag...

Reply #17
I agree also that genre is not so useful. If like suggested using discogs to tag that will get halfway accurate but they also miss a lot of genres that are useful.
What works great for me is a meta genre tag that I have defined: That includes the genres that I listen to:
Alternative, Audiobooks, Classic Rock, Classical, Electronic, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Kids, Metal, Musical, Non-Music, Pop, Reggae, Soundtrack, Global Music
I will periodically tag new music into these genres which goes fairly quickly with the right plug ins are hot-key assignments in foobar. Now, the great advantage is that you can play any of these lists and the songs will fit together.

Re: Thinking on Giving up on the Genre Tag...

Reply #18
For the longest time I ignored the genre tag mostly because of the futility of assigning the correct genre. Is this black metal? Death metal? Or blackened death metal? And also because having a long list of ambiguous genres is not helpful in finding something in your library. Did I label that album, whose name I can't remember right now, as Downtempo or Trip-Hop?

However, in recent years I've found that assigning very broad categories (Metal, Pop, Rock, Electronic, Folk, Christmas, ...) is both low-effort and useful as a first discriminator when digging into my collection.

 

Re: Thinking on Giving up on the Genre Tag...

Reply #19
Thanks everyone. Your feedback has helped, and instead of completely deleting the Genre tag, I think I will do something else. First things first, I didn't know you can use multiple genres. `Hard Rock; Alternative Rock` work on Foobar. But not on my Android player (it only pick the first one, "Hard Rock").

So It's a bit manual process, but I will start with couple of albums and see where it's going. It seems like "Rate Your Music" is more precise then MusicBrainz. So I'm using "Rate Your Music" to pick the 2-3 genre of that specific album. I mostly pick 1 or 2 genre from that list that makes sense to me. Based on those two - I'm defining a master genre following "musicgenreslist.com".

So let's take "Alice in Chains" Album for example. "Rate You Music" gave it the Genres "Alternative Rock" and "Grunge". Both those sub-genre are listed under "Alternative" in musicgenreslist.com. So the final string would be "Alternative; Alternative Rock; Grunge". Most basic players will catch the 'Alternative'. Foobar can allow me to do more precise genre searching (if I'll have want to do so).

Besides that, I probably going to start creating play-lists based on mood :-)

 
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