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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 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

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