Nested genre tags

I've been thinking about tagging recently, as I looked at my own hopelessly muddled collection. Many many tags, mostly non-functional. Begging to be rationalized. I'm particularly interested in genre tags, as others (composer, artist, album artist, etc) are pretty straightforward and handled well by Mp3tag.

So this led me to consider what exactly I'd like in terms of genre tagging functionality. Some observations:

  • Genre tagging is a kind of taxonomy, not unrelated to scientific taxonomies
  • For me, you can think of these tags in a hierarchical or nested sense, e.g. Acoustic Blues is a subset of Blues
  • Actual genre tags don't need to be "nested", as multiple tag terms can be applied to an item (e.g. both Blues and Acoustic Blues)
  • But manually entering multiple genre tags for an item is tedious when you have thousands to do

I don't see a way that Mp3tag could support this (maybe I just missed it). A tagging utility that automatically populated higher level genre tags on the basis of selection of lower level tags would be supremely useful. For instance, if I was tagging a Howlin' Wolf record I could just select "Chicago Blues" as a bottom level tag, and the utility would automatically tag the recording with Chicago Blues, Electric Blues and Blues. It might also generate the tag Urban Blues, even though Urban Blues are not necessarily Electric.

I don't have a great many classical recordings, but this kind of genre tagging would be very useful there. It seems that everyone has different ideas about classical tagging, and I'd have to think about my categories -- but I'd like to be able to capture primary instrument in concertos (flute, violin, oboe, etc) as well as things like musical "style", e.g. classical, baroque, renaissance, modern). I'm much clearer on non-classical music, I admit.

Ideally, such a utility would come with a bunch of pre-sets, but would be "programmable". Even entirely naked, requiring complete programming, wouldn't be a bad thing. The up front investment in setting up the tag categories would pay off in fairly short order during a re-tagging bout.

If there is some functionality in Mp3tag that's similar to this, I'd love to know about it. If not, this is a suggestion for functionality.

You can create a set of actions in which you mimik your genre hierarchy with the # as separator between the levels, e.g.
Blues#Acoustic Blues

If you create the actions of the type "Format value" with the
Format string:%genre%\\Acoustic Blues
you keep any already existing genre and add a further genre field.
See if this does anything for you.

I still wonder which player should display this naming scheme.

I don't want the player to show the naming scheme, I just want to be able to find a particular set of songs by genre. So if I had tagged my hypothetical Howlin' Wolf song as Chicago Blues, it would have also been tagged with Electric Blues, Urban Blues and Blues. All the tags are associated with the title, and it shows up when I search for any of them. I don't need them all to be displayed.

What I'm proposing is not a change to tagging structure, but a tool whereby tags are automatically generated for genres above the specified tag in the hierarchy.

Now would you find if not with a player ...

Anyway: have you tried to apply multiple genre field to a single track and where you able to find it in any of the entered genres?

Do you know any reliable source that lists genres in such hierarchies as you mentioned them? Because then it may be worthwhile to create a set of actions for that.

As I noted above, I know that multiple tags can be applied to a track. That's the point. For my hypothetical Howlin' Wolf track, I want to apply multiple tags, perhaps as follows:

  • Blues
  • Electric Blues
  • Urban Blues
  • Chicago Blues
The higher level category includes all of the lower level ones. I would like a utility that would populate a set of tags based on a single entry, so I could enter "Chicago Blues", and get all the higher level tags.

The track would therefore show up in a search for any of these terms.

I could do it manually, obviously, but it would be so much faster if I could set up the utility once, and then go through my music archive and adjust tags systematically. Impossible to do with my large collection, unless I had infinite time or a utility that would help. As I'm proposing.

I think in principal this would be possible in Mp3Tag with rather complex actions.
But the question is whether there is software that shows these tags and allows filtering or searching for these tags:

You still did not answer Ohrenkinos question which software is able to do such filtering or searching.

If you define multiple genre tags (MP3Tag will show them in the tag panel with \\ between the genres) I personally have no software in use that can find the content of the the second or third genre-tag.
Windows-Explorer does not find them and Mp3Tag does not show them with a filter-expression %genre% HAS ..."
If you use just a list of genres in one genre-tag instead of multiple-values you would get a result in explorer and in mp3tag.

Apparently WMP shows one track in several genres if the invidual genres are separated by semicolon-blank, e.g.
Blues; Blues Garage
All genres may then be stored in one genre field.
This representation is probably only valid for WMP, iTunes most likely will show the genre as it is entered ...

That's what I meant by "list of genres in 1 genre tag" and as you know this is quite different from multi-value genre-tags.
Even windows-explorer is able to show these tags and search for them with "genre:xxxx".

As noted, my objective is to store multiple genres within the metadata for a track. I understand genres as being hierarchical, to some extent, so "Blues" includes both "Acoustic Blues" and Electric Blues". Each of these categories could have their own multiple categories. The point being that a utility that populated the upper levels of the hierarchy based on a single lower level entry would be very useful.

The genre tag would not need to have its functionality changed; many applications allow display and search of genres with multiple genre values.

As you know (this IS the MP3TAG forum), MP3Tag supports multiple genre tags, using \\ as the divider between genres; dbPoweramp does too, using a semi-colon as a divider.

In terms of player apps, I personally use the Squeezebox ecosystem, playing through my audio equipment from a music server (Logitec Media Server). LMS supports multiple tags, and I can display all the titles with a particular genre tag; if the item has multiple tags, it will be displayed in multiple genres.

Foobar2000 also supports multiple genres, and a search on a genre category will produce all the titles with that tag, even if the title has multiple genre tags.

I don't use WMP any more, as it screwed up my tags once too often. I did do a test just now, and it doesn't seem to support multiple genre tags. It will only display the first genre in a set of genre tags on a title. There may be a way of doing this, but it doesn't recognize Mp3Tag's way of coding them, and I'm not going to use WMP for any tagging operation.

Good old Winamp does not support multiple tags, either.

I don't know whether iTunes does, I don't use it except for the store. I suspect not.

Then I would like to come back to post #2 and the possibilities to create your own genre settings.

I need to understand this better, as I haven't used that kind of functionality within MP3Tag. Are you saying that properly implemented I could set up a personal system that would have the following effect?

  • Enter the genre tag "Chicago Blues".
  • MP3Tag automatically generates genre tags for Chicago Blues, Urban Blues, Electric Blues and Blues
These would be multiple genre tags within the metadata for each track.


Yes and no.
No: you would not enter any data in the genre field of the tag panel.
Yes: you would set up a personal system that behaves in just the way you want it.
You would rely on actions of the type "Format value" for GENRE.
The names of the actions could be structured in such a way that you get the main genre as a menu entry and all the subgenres as sub-menus, e.g.:
Blues#Chicago Blues
The action (group) with the name "Blues#Chicago Blues" would then feature the right amount of actions of the type "Format value" to get e.g. this data into the field GENRE:
Blues; Chicago Blues; Urban Blues; Electric Blues
just one click for several entries.

And one more question before I go and have a look when I've time -- can I do this for multiple tracks at a time (e.g. an entire album)? Or only one track at a time. I ask because I'm not very familiar with the MP3Tag functionality beyond the panel.

The triggered actions treat all the selected files.

So, if e.g. you load your collection,
filter for the files that already have Blues as genre,
select them
you can apply the "Blues"-action to all the selected files in one go.

Yes you can.
You should first populate the hierarchy (it would be nice to share with mp3tag users).
Then you (or another mp3tag user) can create the action to be applied to the selected track(s).

That would create 1 Genre-Tag with 3 genres.
To get a multivalue-genre-tag you would have to write:
Blues\\Chicago Blues\\Urban Blues\\Electric Blues

Yes, of course.
I think we both asked which the target system/player should be and we found out that any solution depends a lot on them.

My example works with WMP - and probably not much else.

I hadn't written my earlier posts in MP3Tag terms, but the objective is indeed to have a utility or script that has the effect of creating multi-value genre tags. So if the hierarchy (from most general to most specific) was Blues-Electric Blues-Urban Blues-Chicago Blues, inputting "Chicago Blues" results (in MP3Tag terms) in Blues\\Electric Blues\\Urban Blues\\Chicago Blues.

If Electric Blues was input, it would result in the tags Blues\\Electric Blues.

All of this could be done manually in the main dialog, but it would be extremely tedious.

I don't want to have to execute a particular script each time I do a tag; what would be great would be a background feature that could be implemented through the main screen dialog (e.g. in genre input Chicago Blues, and the application creates the full set of tags as above).

Whistling in the wind, I'm sure.

On a related note, I'm not sure just how tags and muiltiple tags are implemented behind the scenes. I know that using the "\\" in MP3Tag and ";" with dBp works in my apps (LMS and Foobar and others); not sure whether the player apps are built to read both forms specifically, or whether there is some underlying standard for multiple genres implemented by the tagging app that is read by the player when multiple genres are supported.

I should note that on those increasingly rare occasions when I'm ripping a CD using dBp, I don't generally implement multiple genres. I always tidy the tags using MP3Tag anyway, so implement my multiple tags there.

Perhaps I'll start another thread devoted to the taxonomy of genres, see if there is some consensus on reasonable taxonomies, in anticipation (again, likely whistling in the wind) of some sort of mechanism.

I doubt that anything like that will ever be implemented. MP3tag strongly relies on the flexible way in which the user can automate his individual proceedings.
And adding data in such a way that other priorities like an accurate number of tracks of a particular genre become impossible.
In WMP, if you add another genre to the already existing list, then the track will be counted for both genres. This is OK if the 2 genres are really different from each other but not included in each other.
So if I have one track with
Blues; Chicago Blues
and one with
Blues; Delta Blues
I get 2 counts in BLUES, 1 in Chicago Blues and 1 Delta Blues - this might lead you to the assumption that you have 4 blues tracks altogether - you actually have only 2.

In WMP, if you group by GENRE and enter Blues in the search field, you get every genre that contains the word blues - so this is already just the way you described it.

A hierarchy cannot be deducted as (at least) WMP displays all genres on the same level.

So at least for me, such an automatism would not be a desirable feature.
Usually now, the suggestion is: then make it an option that people can switch on or off.
I would say: this option is already there: create your own set of actions and use them whenever you need them. I should not be too difficult to use the actions menu to enter a genre instead of the tag panel.

I think an action is faster or at least not slower than typing a genre or selecting a genre out of a list.

There is no background feature possible in Mp3Tag.
What would be possible is changing the genre-Tags afterwards with an action depending on the already existing genre.
But that is a little bit tricky and I can see no real benefit in time and usability.

I think it is much easier to do some things partly manual, for instance:

  1. Filter all files that have Electic Blues as genre
  2. One click action to change the genre to "Blues\\Chicago Blues\\Urban Blues\\Electric Blues" to all these files