Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

Modify iTunes ID3 tags and fields for better organization Apps
The problem with keeping both classical and non-classical music in iTunes is that we tend to organize by performer for non-classical music and composer for classical music. This has presented a constant irritation for me when browsing in iTunes, and a major problem for automatically organizing music; I want all my Beethoven together, whether it's played by the New York Philharmonic or Joe Schmoe the Piano Virtuoso.

To fix this problem, you can organize classical music by putting the composer in the artist field and the performer in the now-vacant composer field. I modified iTunes to support this new paradigm in a transparent manner, e.g. everything now says "Artist/Composer" instead of "Artist", and where it used to say "Composer", it now says "Ensemble".

This page details how to modify iTunes in this manner, and also has a link to my finished Localized.rsrc if you just want to try it out. It also provides a very solid jumping-off point for anyone who wants to change the way metadata is organized and presented in iTunes.

[robg adds: This hint requires modifying files within iTunes itself, and doing so using a hex editor. As noted there, please make sure you make a backup first if you're going to try this. I have not tested this hint myself.]
    •    
  • Currently 3.60 / 5
  You rated: 3 / 5 (5 votes cast)
 
[24,537 views]  

Modify iTunes ID3 tags and fields for better organization | 12 comments | Create New Account
Click here to return to the 'Modify iTunes ID3 tags and fields for better organization' hint
The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Modify iTunes ID3 tags and fileds for better organization
Authored by: pub3abn on Aug 26, '05 10:46:54AM

I guess this hits on a pet peeve of mine: when people put data into MP3 fields that does not match the field content (putting artist in the song name field, putting the conductor in the album name field, or what has been suggested here), and then submitting that to online music databases (such as the one iTunes accesses).

I also listen to lots of classical music, and like to group by composer. Here are two easy options: (1) Add the composer field to the displayed columns in your iTunes music lists, then you can click that column to group composers together. (2) Make a Smart Playlist for only songs that contain composers, and/or songs with a specific composer (Bach, etc.).



[ Reply to This | # ]
Modify iTunes ID3 tags and fileds for better organization
Authored by: tjarrett on Aug 26, '05 11:23:41AM

Agree with pub3abn, and would go further:

If you are entering the performers in the composer field and the composers in the Artist field, and then uploading track data to the CDDB, there is a special place in Hell for you.

(Not saying you're doing that, fractacular, just seizing on an opportunity to vent. I'm in the middle of ripping my entire CD collection, and my 180 classical CDs are giving me huge headaches because of inconsistent CDDB data.)

My own workaround for the craziness that is mixing classical and non-classical tags is to define a smart playlist (Genre is Classical), then define a custom view for that playlist that shows the Composer and Grouping fields. (Like the iTunes Music Store, I use the Grouping field for the name of the work and Title for the name of the movement.) This resolves most of the problems: all the data is in the right place, and you can use all of it within iTunes.

The drawback, of course, is on the iPod. There is as yet no way that I know to display Grouping or Composer on the iPod screen (though at least you can browse by composer).



[ Reply to This | # ]
Modify iTunes ID3 tags and fileds for better organization
Authored by: brycesutherland on Aug 26, '05 11:34:53AM

"If you are entering the performers in the composer field and the composers in the Artist field, and then uploading track data to the CDDB, there is a special place in Hell for you."

Hear, hear!



[ Reply to This | # ]
Modify iTunes ID3 tags and fileds for better organization
Authored by: tinpan on Aug 26, '05 12:16:31PM

Or you can create a Classical smart playlist and add the Composer column to the view of that playlist. Then you can sort by composer or performer.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Modify iTunes ID3 tags and fileds for better organization
Authored by: tinpan on Aug 26, '05 12:18:49PM

Sorry pub3abn for duping your suggestion. I started the reply, got called to a meeting and submitted it much later without checking.



[ Reply to This | # ]
MP3 tags need revamping
Authored by: gidds on Aug 26, '05 02:48:15PM
I guess this is an awkward situation where we've all come up with our own unique solutions.

Mine's to set 'Artist' to whoever I most identify the track with, which will be the band/performer for modern music, and the composer for classical. In the 'Composer' field I put the composer in all cases; I find the duplication for classical tracks bearable. And in the 'Comments' field I put the performer(s): for classical, I list soloists, choir, orchestra and/or director; and for modern music I list the band members and their instruments. (I have to truncate that occasionally due to the 256-char limit, but it usually holds enough to be getting on with.)

I also customise the 'Album' name slightly. Firstly, all my album names are in capital letters, which makes them stand out from the Artist and Track names. And for classical works, I tend to prefix with the composer, e.g. 'BACH: FRENCH SUITES'. In many cases this matches the title printed on the CD; it also puts most of a composer's work together in the album list, and (most importantly) helps distinguish many CDs that would otherwise have the same name, e.g. 'MADRIGALS' or 'SACRED MUSIC' or 'PIANO CONCERTOS' or whatever.

If you want to use a redundant field, there's always 'Grouping'. I use that to identify the source of the track, whether my own CD, a CD borrowed from family or friends, a recording from the radio, a track downloaded from a (legal) web site, etc. Jolly useful.

(I've arrived at this system after a few attempts. For a long while I included the bare details of classical performer or ensemble in brackets after the album title, but this made for hugely long titles, didn't let me include enough, and made an unreadable mess on the iPod and iTunes mini window. It's a shame you can't view comments or other fields on the iPod, but I can't find a better compromise than I have now.)

---
Andy/

[ Reply to This | # ]

Modify iTunes ID3 tags and fileds for better organization
Authored by: drewk on Aug 26, '05 05:19:53PM
Modify iTunes ID3 tags and fileds for better organization
Authored by: cgreggo on Aug 30, '05 04:40:47PM

Doesn't fit compilation albums. Fine, put the composer in the Album field but ONLY IF the album name contains the composer name in the first place, i.e., album = album.

Spent lots of time fixing all my various artist CDs. ;-) But still, CDDB saved me some time.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Modify iTunes ID3 tags and fileds for better organization
Authored by: fractacular on Sep 05, '05 10:39:02AM

First, rest assured, all those who wish to condemn me to hell -- I would never submit to CDDB using my system.

Second, everyone has overlooked a very important aspect: automatic file system organization. I use a file-system based MP3 player, not one that operates by ID3 tags. I also get new music at least once a week, most of which is classical. This means that, were I to use the prescribed tagging system, or any system described here ("The existing tools, luke"), I would have to manually move all my files around. iTunes does artist folder/album folder for its file system. I want composer/work for my classical music. The only way to get that done automatically is to put the composer in the artist field. The existing tools don't get the job done -- I create a way to get around that. Sounds pretty familiar in the computing field, no? If everybody used the existing tools, we'd be at DOS 1.0 doing everything in VisiCalc...

Someone mentioned that they put the composer in the artist field AND the composer field -- this is a waste of information, the doubling is unnecessary. Further, by putting the performer in the comments field, you'll never be able to see it as you browse your music in iTunes or anywhere else. This means you won't be able to distinguish between, say, the Cleveland recording of Heldenleben vs. the Berlin recording. I see my solution as optimally using the fields available, while providing for automatic file organization and iTunes organization -- I don't have to switch my sorting column from artist to composer when I switch between browsing pop and classical music.

Consider also that other than some Mahler symphonies and other huge works, nearly all classical CDs have more than one work on them, and thus classify as compilations. Why should I be forced to remember that my recording of Fingal's Cave is on an album titled "Mendelssohn: Symphony 3 and 4". That's total bull-[crap].

So it doesn't make any sense to put the actual album name if you EVER organize by album and consider individual works w/ more than one track instead to be the organizing factor. When I want Ein Heldenleben, I don't wish to search for "Strauss: Tone Poems", nor will I look there if I organize by album. Instead I will search for "Ein Heldenleben", and the album field is the perfect place to put that, whether or not Death & Transfiguration came on the same CD.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Modify iTunes ID3 tags and fileds for better organization
Authored by: silentway on Mar 27, '06 11:22:54AM
(arriving a bit late at this party, but...)

If you'd like to keep your files organized in a folder structure other than the automatic Apple method, it can be done pretty easily with AppleScript. These scripts allow you to move files around based on track info:
http://www.dougscripts.com/itunes/scripts/scripts07.php?page=1#syncplaylistfilestofolder http://www.dougscripts.com/itunes/scripts/scripts07.php?page=5#movefilesfold http://www.dougscripts.com/itunes/scripts/scripts07.php?page=2#filestofolder http://www.dougscripts.com/itunes/scripts/scripts02.php?page=2#ripthiswhereiwantit

And it's easily modifiable. I used the above as a basis to create this, which moves selected files to folders based on Genre:
http://clients.silentway.com/sw/tips/MoveSelectedFilestoFolderbyGenre.zip

More here: http://www.silentway.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=67

This might give you an easy way to avoid non-standard ID3 tag headaches.

(And, IMO, I agree with the folks who implore everyone to abide by one ID3 tag standard. Like it or not, the iTunes method is the best we've got. If you want to get creative, do it in the comments field, filename or finder folders.)

---
Tony Brooke
OS X 10.4.5, G5/1.8 iMac, 1.5GB RAM
http://www.SilentWay.com
http://www.TastyCast.com

[ Reply to This | # ]

Modify iTunes ID3 tags and fileds for better organization
Authored by: fractacular on Sep 05, '05 01:40:46PM
Also: What happens to your patch with the inevitable iTunes updates?

What happens is, I either update the resource fork again, which won't take terribly long now that I know what to do, or it will turn out that my localization resource can just be replaced with the old one. Either way, it's simple. I have personal mods to Safari which I perform every time it gets updated... no biggie.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Modify iTunes ID3 tags and fileds for better organization
Authored by: fractacular on Sep 05, '05 01:40:46PM
Also: What happens to your patch with the inevitable iTunes updates?

What happens is, I either update the resource fork again, which won't take terribly long now that I know what to do, or it will turn out that my localization resource can just be replaced with the old one. Either way, it's simple. I have personal mods to Safari which I perform every time it gets updated... no biggie.

[ Reply to This | # ]