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Customer Discussions > Classical Music forum

How do you tag your digital music collection?


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Showing 1-25 of 35 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 13, 2012 11:38:52 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 13, 2012 11:44:45 PM PST
Skaynan says:
Huge CM collections tend to be somewhat chaotic, and the fact there's no standard tagging system for CM (is the "Artist" the composer or the performer? Is the "Genre" Classical? Or "Symphony"? Or "Classical-Baroque"?) doesn't help either. I suppose we all end up organizing and tagging the different fields in a way that makes sense to us. What's your system?

Posted on Nov 13, 2012 11:52:41 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 14, 2012 12:10:34 AM PST
KenOC says:
Artist name and composer -- Both are composer's last name.
Track title -- Composer's last name and then name of track.
Album title -- However I want to break up the CD, but composer's last name name first.
Genre -- One of a set of genre titles I use (NOT classical!)
Performer -- Usually blank.
Album artist -- Whoever performs. If orchestral, orchestra then conductor.
Track number -- As given.
Other tags -- Only if important.

Obviously I am mostly interested in searching and indexing by composer!

The album title is the most difficult. For (say) Zelenka's trio sonatas, I'll title them all "Zelenka Trio Sonatas (Camerata Berne)" but still make six separate playlists, plus a master playlist with all six for background music (hands thrown up in horror, sorry about that!)

Posted on Nov 14, 2012 12:36:22 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 14, 2012 12:58:01 AM PST
Skaynan says:
Thanks Ken. I forgot to mention my "system":

Title: Full title
Artist and Album Artist: Last name of the Composer, unless it's an "artist collection" (see below), in which case I put the performer name in the "Artist" and "Album Artist" fields. I put it in the Album Artist Field as well because some players don't recognize the different fields.
Album: Album name-Conductor-(Soloist)-Orchestra, or similarly for solo works, chamber works, vocal works etc.
Genre: "Classical-Baroque" etc, or "Classical-Artist Collections" for these collections of a single Conductor/Soloist/Ensemble containing many different composers.
Disc #: that's a tricky one, I used to combine multiple CDs to one "Disk", only increasing track numbers accordingly (I mean instead of having 10 cd's with 10 tracks each, I would have tagged it as a single CD with track# going from 1-100), because some players didn't recognize that field. These days are gone: Now all players support the CD# field, so I changed my system to incorporate CD# as well, but I still have to sort through all my older stuff and re-organize it.

Granted, it's a bit complicated, hence my inquiry: I'm sure someone can come up with a better organizational scheme...

Posted on Nov 14, 2012 12:45:11 AM PST
David M. says:
Track: 2
Title: Symphony No. 7 - II - Adagio: Sehr feierlich und sehr langsam
Artist: Bruckner
Album: Bruckner: Symphony No. 7
Album Artist: Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Karl Böhm
Year: 2007
Genre: Classical
Composer: Anton Bruckner
Publisher: Audite

Posted on Nov 14, 2012 1:07:01 AM PST
Jim Ginn says:
alphabetically by composer--if its a collection-- by performer or the piece I like most.

Posted on Nov 14, 2012 1:25:09 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 14, 2012 2:07:31 AM PST
Skaynan says:
David: Here's part of the problem: Bohm's Bruckner was NOT recorded (or first released) in 2007. After all, Bohm died in 1981... That "wrong" (or misleading) year tag is a direct consequence of lack of standardization in CM id3 tagging. My guess is that the year in your Bruckner refers to the remastering or reissue year, and even that's only a guess. I even encountered iTunes bought tracks in which the "Year" field actually referred to the year in which they converted it to AAC format (which is a huge folly; Who cares when it was converted??? Apple engineers???)

James: can you elaborate a bit more?

Posted on Nov 14, 2012 1:38:32 AM PST
Jim Ginn says:
I was talking about filing my CDs, which I think might not be what this site is about. But--a piano recital by Kissin I file under his name- a collection of overtures by various composers under overtures. a Fiedler collection under Fiedler unless its Leroy Anderson then under his name.
The Szell Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition I bought for the fantastic performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's Cappricio Espanol so I file it under Mussorgsky. Thanks for asking, Skynan..

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2012 1:49:32 AM PST
David M. says:
@Skaynan

Oddly, I can almost always remember when a performance was recorded, within a month, but I have more trouble remembering when the CDs were released. So I list the year the CD was released. If I want to note the performance date, I'll do so under the "Comment" section, but I do this rarely - usually only to distinguish between multiple recordings of the same piece, made by the same conductor and orchestra, within a short time span.

Posted on Nov 14, 2012 7:03:56 AM PST
R. Schroeder says:
I am pretty consistent with my tagging, and find it a tremendous pain because the data returned from so many services for classical music is woefully inconsistent, and frequnetly having to do it manually is tedious, but so far necessary.

Below are the tags I usually use. Occasionally I don't get the Composer's last name in the title, but it is usually there. Genre is always "Classical" because also have a lot of non-classical music in my collection and I use the 'Genre' tag to kind of distinguish between different high level collections (Classical, Jazz, Rock). I created my own tag, Style, for more detailed information (Symphony/concerto etc).

Af for the date, this is probably my least consistent field, sometimes it is the recording/release date, sometime the compilation date. I don't really use the information for anything, so whaterver is most convenient to use is usually what I put in.

I have the composer's name duplicated a few times usually (Artist, Album Artist, Composer). This is mostly because some functionalities I use (Playback statistics, Playlist sorting) use specific fields and don't allow customization.

The Album title I struggle with a bit sometimes, particularly with works that I have several copies of. For instance I have 8 different sets of Beethoven's piano sonatas. My album title for that would usually be something like 'Beethoven: Piano Sonatas [Disc x]' However, when I have several copies of the same works I have to find minor variations in the title to differentiate them, so I have 'Beethoven: The Piano Sonatas [Disc x]' 'Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas [Disc x]' and 'Beethoven: 32 Piano Sonatas [Disc x]' in my collection as well, which can get to be confusing. I've debated about putting the performer information in the album title, but don't like doing it because I have it stored elsewhere already, and it would break with what I've done in the past.

Artist: Composer's full name
Title: Composer's last name: Title of Work, Catalog #, "Nickname (if applicable)" - I. Movement Title
Album: Name of the album [Disc #]
Track #: Track #
Album Artist: Composer's full name unless multi composer collection by single performer, then this would be the performer on that album
Composer: Composer's full name
Performer: Recording Artist1; Recording Artist2; Recoring Artist 3....
Genre: Classical
Style: Symphony/Concerto/Chamber/Piano/Choral etc.
Date: Recording Date or Compilation Date

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2012 8:35:30 AM PST
DavidRFoss says:
I'm still using an iPod Classic which has limited horizontal space. Extra long track titles end up scrolling annoyingly which can be a safety hazard while driving. :-)

If the album is all one composer, I'll only put the composer name in the Album title.
If the album is all one type of piece (symphonies, sonatas, string quartets), then I often omit the type in the in the track title as well.
I alway merge multi-CD albums into one album using the disc index fields. This is great for boxes where they've split a work across multiple CD's.
If two albums have the same generic name then I'll post-pend some extra information (performer/conductor) at the end of the album name.

Artist: Quartetto Italiano
Album: Beethoven: String Quartets - Italiano
Title: #13 in B flat, Op. 130 - 4. Alla danza tedesca

I imagine the larger screen tablets have more room to display chattier track information, but those tablets all use flash memory and have a much smaller capacity than the old iPod classic. And unfortunately, the classic isn't likely to get any more interface updates ever.

Posted on Nov 14, 2012 9:00:21 AM PST
WH says:
Skaynan, Thanks for starting this thread. It's an issue that I thought about getting people's views on. I disliked the standard "Gracenote" categories of putting the performer under the artist. And so for the last 7 or 8 years, I've steadily retagged all my classical albums. Because I have a very sizeable jazz collection and a decent size rock collection, I needed ways to do genre that meshed well with my larger collection. So here's what I do:

Artist: COMPOSER
Album: COMPOSER: MAIN WORK (CONDUCTOR or PERFORMER)
Genre: CLASSICAL: TIME PERIOD
Year: YEAR OF ORIGINAL RELEASE (as opposed to year of reissue)
Track Name (for 1st movement): COMPOSER: FULL TITLE OF WORK + OPUS NUMBUER - MOVEMENT TITLE / TEMPO
Track Name (for remaining movements): COMPOSER: SHORT TITLE - MOVEMENT TITLE
Track Number: NUMBER of TOTAL NUMBER
Disc Number: NUMBER of TOTAL NUMBER
Comment: OTHER INFORMATION (e.g. orchestra, soloists, reissue date)

Composer: "Ludwig van Beethoven"
Album: "Beethoven: Complete String Quartets (Alban Berg Quartett)"
Genre: "Classical - Classical"
Year: "1981"
Track Name (of 1st movement): "Beethoven: String Quartet #1 in F major, op. 18/1 - I. Allegro con brio"
Track Name (of other movements): "Beethoven: String Quartet #1 - II. Adagio ... "
Track Number: "1 of 8"
Disc Number: "1 of 7"
Comment: "Reissue: EMI, 2012"

Notice that I shorten the information on track names after the 1st movement. When Gracenote sends in the automatic info, it tends to give all the info "... Quartet #1 in F major, op. 18/1 ...." As a result, when I'm reading it on my iPod, the info has to scroll for a while before I can figure out what movement I want to hit. And yet I didn't want to erase all the info (key of the piece, opus number), and so I left the full info only in the first movement, but shorten all the subsequent movements.

For most multi-disc sets, I have them all under a single "Album name". So in the example above, I have all 7 discs under "Beethoven: Complete String Quartets (Alban Berg Quartett). But that's the upper limit. For many box sets, I add volume number and the name of the major work into the title of the Album so that I can recognize at a glance what's in the disc. For instance:
"Faure: Complete Piano Music (1: Impromptus) (Kathryn Stott)"
"Faure: Complete Piano Music (2: Barcarolles) (Kathryn Stott)"
"Faure: Complete Piano Music (3: Nocturnes) (Kathryn Stott)"
"Faure: Complete Piano Music (4: Preludes) (Kathryn Stott)"

For genre, I give "Classical" for all of them, but then add time period, so "Classical - Baroque" "Classical - Medieval" "Classical - Contemporary". That way, my classical collection stays together and not mixed in with "Jazz" or "Indie Rock" etc.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2012 9:31:31 AM PST
"The Album title I struggle with a bit sometimes, particularly with works that I have several copies of. For instance I have 8 different sets of Beethoven's piano sonatas. My album title for that would usually be something like 'Beethoven: Piano Sonatas [Disc x]' However, when I have several copies of the same works I have to find minor variations in the title to differentiate them, so I have 'Beethoven: The Piano Sonatas [Disc x]' 'Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas [Disc x]' and 'Beethoven: 32 Piano Sonatas [Disc x]' in my collection as well, which can get to be confusing. I've debated about putting the performer information in the album title, but don't like doing it because I have it stored elsewhere already, and it would break with what I've done in the past."

I do most of my tagging in preparation for uploading, either to iTunes or Amazon Cloud Player, so it's important to distinguish between different performances of the same work(s) - so for the above, I would always put the name of the artist(s) in parentheses after the title. Otherwise, I run the risk of uploading two different recordings into the same "album".

BTW, for the past couple of weeks, I've been using this program for ripping CD's:

http://www.dbpoweramp.com/

It's a really superb program, giving you excellent control of metadata in a relatively painless fashion. And they offer a free three-week trial of the full function version. My three week trial runs out in a few days, at which point I will certainly purchase the program - well worth $38.

Bill

Posted on Nov 14, 2012 10:02:51 AM PST
KenOC says:
"...so for the above, I would always put the name of the artist(s) in parentheses after the title."

Ditto here (in the album title). BTW Foobar does a nice job of metadata management and is free.

Posted on Nov 14, 2012 5:36:23 PM PST
David M. says:
"...so for the above, I would always put the name of the artist(s) in parentheses after the title."

That strikes me as a very sensible solution, and one that I'll consider changing to. I have a question about it: what do you do when there are multiple artists (and no shorter name for their collective ensemble)? For example, I have a recording of Enescu's Chamber Symphony which is performed by 12 musicians pulled from various orchestras. To list all 12 in the track title seems unwieldy.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2012 5:56:39 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 14, 2012 5:57:50 PM PST
KenOC says:
My system would put them in the album title like this (using my abbreviations) "Enescu Chamber Sym (12 players)"

I mean, you're not likely to know their names anyway! If you need to know, check back on Amazon or, if you're overtaken by enthusiasm, put them all in the Performer or Contributing Artists field....

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2012 6:17:41 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 14, 2012 6:26:04 PM PST
David M. says:
Thanks for the response. That seems reasonable.

"I mean, you're not likely to know their names anyway!"

That's generally the case. But sometimes I'll hear an octet and think, "My God, that bassoonist is great. I want to hear more of him/her!"

(By sometimes, I mean it happened once.)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2012 7:14:23 PM PST
I'd probably just list the one or two that I actually cared about, followed by "et al.".

Bill

Posted on Nov 14, 2012 9:37:35 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 14, 2012 9:40:46 PM PST
Skaynan says:
"Track title -- Composer's last name and then name of track."

Suppose I want to do that too: how do I add the composer name to the title field in a "batch" manner without erasing the info that is already there (the actual track name)? It's not practical doing it manually track by track.

Posted on Nov 14, 2012 9:47:19 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 14, 2012 9:51:18 PM PST
Wyote says:
I'm gonna steal WH's format.

Artist: PERFORMERS
Album: COMPOSER: MAIN WORK [ARTIST DATE]
Genre: CLASSICAL: TIME PERIOD
Year: YEAR OF RECORDING
Track Name (for 1st movement): MOVEMENT TITLE / TEMPO
Comment: YEAR OF COMPOSITION

Composer: "Beethoven, Ludwig van (1770-1827)"
Artist: "Alban Berg Quartet"
Album: "Beethoven: String Quartet #1 in F, op. 18/1 [ABQ 1980]"
Genre: "Classical: Classical"
Year: "1980"
Track Name (of 1st movement): "1. Allegro con brio"
Comment: "published 1801"

Artist: "Mstislav Rostropovich; Herbert Von Karajan: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra"
Album: "Dvořák: Cello Concerto in B minor, op. 104 [Rostropovich, Karajan 1969]"
Name: "1. Allegro"
Year: "1969"
Comment: "composed 1894-5"

Posted on Nov 15, 2012 5:42:49 AM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 26, 2013 10:11:35 AM PST]

Posted on Nov 15, 2012 6:16:53 AM PST
R. Schroeder says:
I put it in Composer as well (use that to filter my collection in Foobar and select albums). I also set the artist to composer because the Playback Statistics component that I use only keeps track by Artist, not by composer. I am more interested in how many times I have listened to Bach or Beethoven than I am in how many times I have listened to Alfred Brendel. Before I used that component, the artist did contain the performer.

Posted on Nov 15, 2012 8:27:22 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 15, 2012 10:27:45 AM PST
WH says:
March, I agree with R. Schroeder. Also since my collection includes jazz and rock (and some blues and world), I don't want it organized around "Artist" for my jazz and rock collections and around "Composer" for my classical collection. I want it consistently around the "Artist" category. Thus for my classical, I have composer under both "Artist" and "Composer." In practical terms, it means when I hit "Artist" on my iPod, it will come up, under "M" for example: "Maurice Ravel" "McCoy Tyner" "Medeski Martin & Wood" "Miles Davis" "Modest Mussorgsky" "My Morning Jacket", etc. In other words, by composer for classical and performer for jazz and rock. Since, for my classical collection, I include the performer in parenthesis in the album title, I spot immediately whose performance I'm looking at (e.g. "Beethoven: Symphonien 1-9 (Von Karajan)" vs. "Beethoven: Symphonies (Gardiner)"). When I use my iPod, I pick things either by sorting through "Artist" or through "Genre", not composer. "Composer" is much less important category for jazz and rock. This might matter less to you if your collection is only classical. But even when I sort through one of my genre categories ("Classical: Baroque"), I want it to choose via "Bach" not "Freiberger Barockorchester".

Posted on Nov 15, 2012 9:34:28 AM PST
R. Schroeder says:
WH: That's true too....Foobar lets me select however I want on the PC, so I could do Artist for Jazz/Rock and Composer for Classical (I do actually), but when I transfer to a portable player, Artist is pretty standard, so it makes sense to just be ready for that as well.

Posted on Nov 15, 2012 10:22:45 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 15, 2012 10:44:04 AM PST
My tagging method:
Composer/Performer/additional performer if necessary/AND/OR label if necessary/AND/OR year of recording if necessary.

For example:
Beethoven/Barenboim/DG
would refer to Barenboim's Beethoven piano sonatas from DG (as oppose to the EMI or others). I will not confuse them with his Beethoven symphonies from Warner or Decca, because they would be tagged this way:
Beethoven/Barenboim/Berliner Staatskapelle/Decca OR Warner.

Same thing with Bach/Gould (Bach's solo keyboard music) as oppose to Bach/Gould/Bernstein (refering to the Bach piano concertos)

or Beethoven/Karajan/DG1963
would refer to Karajan's first Beethoven symphonies cycle from DG (distinguishing it from the one on EMI or the other DGs)
in stead of Beethoven/Karajan/Weisenberg
which would refer to Beethoven piano concertos.

I don't need more tags than these to identify an album on my mp3-player, because I know for instance that Barenboim, Gould and Karajan didn't record the Beethoven string quartets...

But I have to admit that my digital collection is very small...

...anyways I haven't really listened to my mp3 files after I bought a smartphone with internet connection, now I stream from Spotify and another local service.

Posted on Nov 15, 2012 11:54:32 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 15, 2012 12:00:06 PM PST
Thomas E. says:
I do it like this in Itunes:

Name:
Title of work, opus or catalog number, eventual name ("The Inextinguishable") - Movement in roman numerals or numbers. Tempo marking.
Artist:
Soloist, instrument - Orchestra - Conductor
Album:
Composer's last name [or Title if several composers, or Performer if it's a performer-centric release]: Title (number of disc if in boxset) - Works on the disc (if only a few works)
Composer:
Last name, First name (birth date-death date)

Example of a chamber work:

Name:
Fantasiestücke, op.88 - I. Romanze. Nicht schnell, mit innigem Ausdruck
Artist:
Martha Argerich, piano - Renaud Capucon, violin - Gautier Capucon, cello
Album:
Argerich and Friends: Live from the Lugano Festival 2009 (1)
Composer:
Schumann, Robert Alexander (1810-1856)

Or for an orchestral work:

Name:
Cello Concerto, op.22 - I. Allegro moderato
Artist:
Wendy Warner, cello - Royal Scottish National Orchestra - Marin Alsop, conductor
Album:
Barber: Complete Orchestral Works (2) - Cello Concerto, Medea (Ballet Suite), Adagio for Strings
Composer:
Barber, Samuel (1910-1981)

I never, ever put the composer in the "Name" or "Artist" fields. There's a whole dedicated field for it! I don't care about composers in other genres, so I only use that field for classical.
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Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
Participants:  16
Total posts:  35
Initial post:  Nov 13, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 16, 2012

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