Suggestions, plz, re tag setup for 'Classical'


I'm the noob-supreme in all but the most obvious aspects of Mp3tag. I tagged an extensive Jazz collection with little problem, but my much larger Classical collection presents a whole new wrinkle, as you might suspect.

1 - I have searched like crazy here, but am not finding suggested layouts. How are boxed sets with natural subgroups best handled? E.g., DG's box "Messiaen's Complete Works" has several disks devoted to organ, several to chamber, etc.

2 - Where/how might ALBUMARTIST be useful? I'm thinking that if I put Beethoven in COMPOSER, put von Karajan in ALBUMARTIST, then I could use $if2(%composer%,%albumartist%) in ARTIST, and similar constructs for other fields, to give me something I could use for both Jazz and Classical.

3 - I have several versions of some works; some are easily distinguished by artist alone, but even then there are quite a few with same composer and artist, but different performances most easily distinguished by year. What should I do for tags here?

Any help with this, or pointers to info specific to tagging classical music in the context of Mp3tag, would be hugely appreciated. Output devices will be Squeezebox; I currently use foobar on Windows, and am trying to figure out something for the Mac. All files are flac.

Many, many thanks.


The bad news first -- you're experiencing first-hand that the tagging standards (even ID3v2.4) were never thought through for classical music tagging.

The good -- since you're using Foobar and mp3tag, you can customize and configure both endlessly, and thus you can create and use your own tagging. I use a super-set of tags which enables me to manage my music collection in Foobar, and a subset which I use in my Sonos (formerly Roku) system to locate and play music when away from my computer.

Minimally, for every classical track I capture %composer% (last name, first names), %work%, %movement%, and %catalog no% (without Op. for opus, but with BWV, K, or H e.g. for other cataloging schemes). I also capture (where appropriate) %conductor%, %ensemble%, %chorus%, and %soloists%. If the work (or album) has one primary soloist, that name goes in the %artist% field, else %conductor%, else %ensemble%. For operas it's always the conductor. I create a %performer% field that is a concatenation of all of these fields.

Then, I create a %title% for each track that follows the form:

COMPOSER (Last name only)-Work: Movement

using an action:

$Upper($if($eql($strchr(%composer%,','),0),%composer%,$left(%composer%,$sub($strchr(%composer%,','),1))))·$if2(%work-abbrev%,%work%)$if($not(%movement%),,: %movement%)

To ensure that %title% doesn't get too long I create a %work abbrev% field (using actions) e.g. "Pique Dame" from "Pique Dame (The Queen of Spades), opera, Op. 68".

Finally, I rename the file using the format:


I use %album artist% only for compilation albums without a dominant artist. It gets the value "Various", but %artist% is populated appropriately for each track.

I get most of my tagging data from AllMusic, and CDUniverse and sometimes Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Attached is a screen capture from FB2K of the first track from Rheingold.


Thank you SO much for both your detailed info and implicit encouragement.

I've a followup question, better posted anew.

And now that I see you are in SF, may I suggest you cruise down to our area? Carmel is looking OK now, and in a few weeks will be awesome (Summer fog/overcast gone). And of course, if you have a dog, then there's no better place to be with your buddy than Carmel.

Dave (migrant from Palo Alto)