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Song Tagging and Metadata Blog

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

SongKong 4.5 released with Classical and iTunes improvements

We start the New Year with a new SongKong release, this one concentrates on two aspects, Classical music and iTunes.

Classical 

New Option:Only use Artist Type to categorise groups as ensembles, choirs or orchestra

Every artist in MusicBrainz is categorised as either a choir, orchestra, group or person. But sometimes a group may be a credited as an orchestra or choir on a particular release, and when this occurs we credit that artist as an orchestra or choir for the particular songs in that release. However this can mean that within your songs metadata the same artist is sometimes added to the Orchestra or Choir field and sometimes the Ensemble field depending on what release the song is from, if instead you wish a particular artist to be categorised the same way throughout your collection enable this option.  





New Option:Allow changes to songs existing metadata fields if song only match

When SongKong can match a song but not determine the album it will update song metadata such as song title but not album metadata such as Album Title or Track No regardless of any existing metadata. This means that the song is identified and updated with useful metadata without making any changes that would prevent it being identified as part of the same group on a subsequent run of Fix Songs

However even modifying only Song Only metadata such as the Song Title or Track Artist could still change values significantly so that there is a difference between these songs and the totally unmatched songs. This difference is more likely when dealing with Classical release since there is not a single standard way that these fields are used with Classical music, for example you may have some songs where the work has been included in the song title and others where only the movement is used. If you disable this option then it will only update fields that are currently empty and this may better preserve consistency if some songs in an album are matched song only and some are not matched at all. The disadvantage of disabling this option is this can prevent SongKong replacing existing incorrect metadata with correct metadata.


Advanced modification of Classical Identification

One way that SongKong identifies classical releases is looking for releases that have credits to particular people known to work only on Classical music. This list is available within classical_people.txt, here is a small section, each line has the MusicBrainz Artist Id and then Artist Name

               1f9df192-a621-4f54-8850-2c5373b7eac9 = Ludwig van Beethoven
               d01c08ad-f09f-4396-b8a7-e27ae146ea27 = Ludwig von Széchényi
               5a4ae8d0-7ee4-4e83-bb89-1cfc9cf63d8b = Ludwik Osiński
               676bf1b0-b834-4117-86d2-ceba42fac051 = Luigi Badia
               688986c3-da7b-4465-92cb-f4736c94f2cd = Luigi Balestra
               cc272df6-a476-4d30-9ede-a47db04d8813 = Luigi Bassi
               5c1a3f8f-d5e5-4dcd-9e44-9443f06bb77d = Luigi Boccherini
               d6077dc7-7bdb-4cc8-9425-fb80bf2dff41 = Luigi Caracciolo
               375d52ad-5b7a-4f96-80e2-6d9ad13f5160 = Luigi Cherubini
               63b22cde-9b11-4465-83bf-ecf374eb490e = Luigi Gordigiani

           
The term Classical is used here in the most general sense so that anyone who died before music could be recorded is included plus Classical composers and conductors of the 19th and 20th century, in total there are about 6000 people listed. If you are finding that certain releases credited to a particular person are being classified as Classical when you do not want them to be you can search this file for that person and remove that line, you can also add people to this file using the format MusicBrainz Artist Id = Name

There is also a classical_composers.txt file, like all automated music taggers SongKong is always dealing with incomplete databases, a particular problem for classical music is that the database may have the list of credits for a release but not their particular role, e.g. Is Person B a composer, performer or conductor. SongKong has created a list of people who principal activity is composing so when we find this person credited on a release we can usually assume that they are the composer even if they do not have a composer credit on that particular release.

The smaller classical_conductors.txt list works the same way for conductors, both these files can be edited in the same way as the classical_people.txt file in order to fine tune your classical metadata requirements. If a person is a composer and conductors (or performer) then they will not be included in the composer/conductor list unless the vast majority of their credits are for one particular role

iTunes 

Working with iTunes is difficult since it can be configured many different ways. For example multiple libraries can be created in different locations. iTunes can make copies of every music file added (the default on OSX but not on Windows) and it can rename files automtically when their metadata changes. The configuration of these iTunes options are not available in the API that iTunes provides developers with so some guesswork is required.

One particular problem is that a customer may have iTunes configured to copy media files but when using SongKong open the location of the original file rather than the one now under iTunes control. We now warn the user when we detect this to try and prevent this common mistake that can cause to duplicate songs to be added to iTunes.

We also now have an iTunes summary that details the location of the iTunes media location plus a count of how many new songs were added to iTunes and how many songs already known to iTunes have been updated.

The library we use to talk to iTunes on Windows has been replaced with a newer one that is btter supported.

Full List of Fixes

The full list of fixes can be found on the News page
 

Monday, 19 December 2016

Updating iTunes Work and Movement fields easily with SongKong

iTunes now supports movements and works for Classical music but does not provide any way to automatically add data to these fields. So if you are using iTunes as an editor it becomes very time consuming to add this new data.

The screencast below is a tutorial on the Mac, and the tutorial in this blog post is for Windows, steps are the same for both. 


 

Adding Only Works and Movements for iTunes

Luckily both SongKong and Jaikoz can now add this data for you totally automatically. This guide explains how this works with SongKong. In this walkthrough we are going to limit SongKong to only update the Work related fields. But of course it can be used to identify songs and add the full set of metadata   

  • For the purpose of this guide I have created an iTunes database consisting of just three albums that we are going to update in one go with SongKong. Two albums are classical music album that we know to contain works and movements and one regular rock album. I have enabled the Movement, Work and Movement No columns in the Song View, and they are currently empty of data. 
  • And the Album view does not look any different then it would for a Pop/Rock album
  • Lets start SongKong and select your music folder.
  • Start Fix Songs and ensure that Save Changes to iTunes on the Basic tab is enabled. 
  • Go the Format tab, select Never Modify add add all fields to the Selected Fields list except Work, Movement, Movement No and Movement Total so it looks like the screenshot below and select OK
  • Now lets go to the Classical tab, the defaults are tuned for iTunes. Most notably if you have files in the AIF or MP3 format you really need Copy Work to Grouping field to be set to MP3 and AIF (iTunes)
  • Now press Start and wait for the identification and iTunes update to complete. 
  • If we look at the report that is created we can see that the Movement and Work fields have been added for the Classical releases.

  • Lets go over to iTunes, we can now see that the movement and work data has been added.
  • But if we go the Album View the work and movement data is still not displayed.
  • Now this is because of the one manual step potentially required. Sometimes we need to go back to the Songs View and sort by Work, then select all the songs that have a value for work, and select Get Info
  • Now check the new Use Work and Movement option


  • If we now go back to the Album View and look at these albums we see songs are now grouped by Work (e.g Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 80) and therefore can use the short Movement Name instead of the the longer Song Title (e.g III Andante instead of Sonata for violin & piano No. 1 in F minor, Op. 80: Andante). iTunes also derives a Movement No using Roman numeral notation derived from the Movement No

     
  • For songs already added to iTunes before these new options were introduced into iTunes the Use Work and Movement option may need checking. For songs added since iTunes 12.5 it seems this option is checked by default so this extra step may not be necessary.
The reason we matched to three albums, was to show that the manual step can be applied to all albums with works in a single step, it doesn't have to be applied one album at a time   

So as you can see we can easily use SongKong to identify classical music and the work and grouping metadata, the process is very similar for Jaikoz.

And you can use an identical method on OSX and Windows.

All the new work and movement metadata is stored in the file themselves so you can also run SongKong without enabling the Save to iTunes  option. Then at a later date select all the files in iTunes and use Get Info to update with any changes made by SongKong
  

SongKong 4.4 released December 19th 2016

We introduced a bug into SongKong 4.3 that meant it wasn't closing its connections to its internal database properly and this meant it could run out of database connections and then hang in some circumstances.

We have been working over this weekend to get this resolved, and now fixed in this new SongKong 4.4 release

Saturday, 17 December 2016

New version of SongKong 4.3 now available

Yesterday we released SongKong 4.3, but there was one rather significant bug that we didn't pick up on testing. 

If you have never installed SongKong before then this version looks for a recent path setting in your properties  and because this is not set it actually prevents SongKong from starting.

This is now fixed, and to enable the quickest deployment and because there are no functionality changes we have just replaced the existing 4.3 with a new version of 4.3. 

Simply redownload if you have had this issue, and sorry for the hassle.

 

Friday, 16 December 2016

Tagging Classical Music:Part 6 - Movements and Works

Back to Part 5 - Classical Classification
 
We have seen in earlier articles how the Track Artist field is not well suited for Classical music because there are many artists involved in a piece of Classical music.

The other major problem with Classical Music is the Album with Tracks format usually doesn't represent the artistic intent of the composers(s) of the music, there is a parallel structure we want to capture comprised of Movements and Works.

Movements and Works

Classical Composers usually think in terms of a Work, such as Symphony or Sonata containing multiple parts known as Movements. This is certainly true of the masters like Bach and Beethoven, remember when they wrote their masterpieces there was no way to actually capture a performance, audio could not be recorded.

Albums

Albums of recorded music were developed in the early 20th century, first as books of individual 78rpm records, then from 1948 as vinyl LP records played at  33 1⁄3 rpm, then Compact Discs and then various formats that can be saved to a computer  drive.

The album represents the artistic intent of the performer, and for pop/rock music this is often the composer and is the primary means of distributing their music, but this is not the case with Classical music, which may have been written hundreds of years before.


Classical Albums

So a classical album can contain multiple works by different composers with the only connection being they are being performed by the same orchestra or soloist.

Sometimes the album contains a complete work and sometimes only certain movements of a work

We want to capture the Work structure in parallel to the Album structure. Support for Works has been poor but is now improving since iTunes have recently added a new Work field, and where iTunes leads others usually follow.


Movements and Tracks


A single movement is usually represented by a single track, so we have a nice one-one representation. The difficulty with tracks as we have seen is they can contain alot of work information and this can make the track name unwieldy. If we know that tracks 1-3 are movements I-III of a particular work then there is no real need to repeat the work information in the title. What we really need is a separate Movement field, and again iTunes have now added a Movement field.


Movement No and Track Nos

So if we have an album consisting of tracks 1-5 representing the five movements from one work and tracks 6-10 representing five movements from another work we want to capture this information, and this is the purpose of the Movement No and Movement Total fields. These fields index the tracks in relation to the work they are part of.


Jaikoz and SongKong

Jaikoz and SongKong already support these new fields and have full integration with iTunes. Hopefully other players will add support for all these fields very soon. 

Here is a simple example

Movement      :Allegro non troppo
Work          :Piano Concerto no. 2 in B-flat major, op. 83
Movement No   :1
Movement Total:5

Part          :I. Allegro non troppo
Part Number   :I
Work Type     :Concerto


Just in time for Xmas, new releases of Jaikoz and SongKong

We are pleased to announce the release of Jaikoz 9.1.0 and SongKong 4.3 today


Classical Feature Parity

We have made lots of improvements to classical matching in SongKong, but even better the whole classical matching functionality has now been added to Jaikoz. Classical matching now works the same in both applications and all the Classical music options that were in SongKong are now in Jaikoz as well.


 

Support for iTunes Work and Movement fields

Recently iTunes added support for Work, Movement and Movement No. SongKong already had support for deriving this information from classical releases but now it writes this information to the equivalent iTunes fields so you can now use SongKong to update these new columns for your classical releases. And even better news is that Jaikoz does this as well.

We will explain how this works in more detail in another blog post.

 

New Field Mappings

These it is quite customary to transcode music collections from lossless to lossy so that you have a high quality version of your music for your hi-fi system and smaller files for use on your iPod or car stereo. 

We have noted that transcoders such as dbPoweramp do an excellant job of converting the audio, and a reasonable job of converting the metadata for the standard fields like album, artist and title. But they dont do such a good job of converting custom fields such as MusicBrainz Ids or the classical fields we have recently added such because they expect the fieldname to be exactly the same on all metadata formats. For MusicBrainz Ids this is not the case, i.e the MusicBrainzReleaseId field is called MusicBrainz Album Id for Mp3 and Aiff files but MUSICBRAINZ_ALBUMID for Flac and Ogg files. 

We cannot change how MusicBrainz Ids are stored but we have revised the mappings for some of our recently added new classical fields in order to make it easier for metadata to be maintained when the files are transcoded.

This means in Jaikoz  you many notice that some fields seem to be empty when you load them, just run Update Metadata from MusicBrainz to re-add the data to the newly mapped fields.

 

Acoustid Song Only Metadata

The Acoustid database is crowd-sourced and when songs are submitted to Acoustid they are submitted with their metadata. If this none of the songs submitted for a particular Acoustid fingerprint include a MusicBrainz Id then the Acoustid is not linked to MusicBrainz but the basic metadata - artist, album and title are available from Acoustid 

Now when a song is matched to an Acoustid with no links to MusicBrainz metadata but with some basic metadata we use this metadata if our song doesn't already contain that information. In the SongChanges part of the report such songs are labelled (Acoustid Song Only)

This is great when your songs contained no metadata since the Acoustid database is larger than the MusicBrainz database. Also there are some songs that are in both Acoustid and MusicBrainz databases but not currently linked so adding this metadata increases the chance of your songs being matched to MusicBrainz by metadata (and Discogs).


 

When tracks contains featured artists

We have also added the When tracks contains featured artists option to Jaikoz this give you options when a track lists both a main artist and featured artists.



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