Intelligent browsing in foobar

Collecting my thoughts here…

foobarSo, ironically, music is becoming increasingly difficult for me to listen to. As though worrying about an extensive gauntlet of tagging procedures isn’t enough, I just have too much damn music. Browsing alphabetically through upwards of 500 artists is not the best way to go looking for something when you have no idea what you want to hear.

I’ve auditioned various methods of tweaking foobar to ‘deliver’ music to me more or less automatically, and I’m close to having something ideal. The playlist tree component allows for dynamic tree structures (which, unfortunately, can only be rebuilt manually or every time a new song begins); using the titleformatting language, I’ve generated five queries whose purpose it is to ‘coax’ certain albums to starker visibility from the featureless and indifferent music library, to greater or lesser success.

  • Random 10: Maybe my favorite query. This chooses ten albums at random and, in a clever twist of which I’m pretty proud, appends a short description of the album to the end of the title in the tree, using one adjectivial ‘tone’ tag and one nounal ‘style’ tag as taken from allmusic (the hard work pays off!), e.g., “Sprawling Post-Rock/Experimental” for Mogwai’s Ten Rapid. This last bit is helpful as I don’t even recognize much of the stuff in my library.
  • Never Heard: A given. This chooses ten random albums on the condition that they contain at least one song that hasn’t been played. Unfortunately there’s no way to filter for albums that have, say, at least half of their tracks unplayed, or even a fixed number of unplayed tracks for that matter, so the title of this query is a bit misleading. And, because I’m even more likely not to be familiar with these, descriptor phrases are also included in the display of this tree (and in none of the remaining trees).
  • Recently Added: Fifteen albums chosen for having a track that has recently been played for the first time. Again, somewhat misleading, since very old albums that happen to have a recently debuted song will appear on this list, when I’d really like to restrict it to recently added albums. If only foobar could keep track of when stuff is added to the library. Helpful for reminding me of new stuff I’ve acquired.
  • Recently Listened: Like ‘Recently Added,’ but narrowed to albums whose last play is at least a month from their first play (or, more specifically, whose last play was not in the same month as their first play). This, ideally, will display old(ish) albums that I’ve found myself listening to lately. And, like ‘Recently Added,’ useful in its results — if I chose to hear it recently, I’m likely to want to hear it again.
  • Incoming: A live reflection of the contents of my incoming folder. This would be great ’cause then I wouldn’t have to remember to open Windows explorer and drag new stuff into foobar to add it to the library, it would all just flow in seamlessly, even the .zips I download (since foobar can read archives). Unfortunately Playlist Tree is still in beta and this feature seems to be broken at the moment. Once it’s resolved, though, the circle will be closed and everything will be perfect and the skies will open up and we will know the face of God.

My only remaining frustration is that playcount data basically has to be written to the files, something that cannot be worked around by write-protecting the files as I had previously been led to believe. My anticipated work-around will involve getting uTorrent to copy all downloads into another directory, one that it’s okay for foobar to mess around with, keeping seeded torrents in some quarantined directory that I never really touch.

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