Slightly Streamlined mp3 Tagging Flowchart

I used to require four pro­grams for get­ting all my tags exact­ly how I want them: The God­Fa­ther (with All­Mu­sicGuide patch), the MusicBrainz Tag­ger, Mp3tag, and foobar2000. The God­Fa­ther was always the first and worst part of my tag­ging pro­ce­dures, being slow, refus­ing to write APE tags, and rely­ing on the Inter­net Explor­er engine.

Now I’ve elim­i­nat­ed both The God­Fa­ther and MusicBrainz from the whole gru­el­ing process, boil­ing it down to just Mp3tag and foobar2000, thanks to an AMG-scrap­ing script and a MusicBrainz-scrap­ing script for Mp3tag. The only draw­back is that the AMG script does­n’t retrieve album descrip­tions (which I truth­ful­ly won’t miss a bit), and that the scripts use dif­fer­ent tag field names (MOOD instead of TONES) to store some of the more friv­o­lous meta­da­ta.

How­ev­er there is some promise in the rel­a­tive sim­plic­i­ty of Mp3tag’s script­ing lan­guage, which, with enough knowl­edge of reg­u­lar expres­sions, seems to be capa­ble of pars­ing any­thing out of an http request.

AllMusic’s Tone Intersections

In a pre­vi­ous post about A Flat Hier­ar­chy for Sub­jec­tive mp3 Tags, I described the ardu­ous and mar­gin­al­ly reward­ing task of tag­ging my entire library with as many ‘tones’ tags as All­Mu­sic was able to pro­vide. With foobar2000 0.9 final now less than a week away, these tags may prove use­ful soon enough. But a few weeks ago, impa­tient and curi­ous, I decid­ed to put them to anoth­er use:

tones intersection chart

By cre­at­ing a tones/tones tree struc­ture in foo­bar, I was able to count how often each ‘tone’ inter­sects with every oth­er ‘tone.’ What you see above is the begin­ning of that data col­lec­tion, which I ulti­mate­ly planned to ana­lyze in…some way.

After Googling around for ideas on tag clus­ter­ing, I came across gCLU­TO, a free piece of soft­ware that would, mirac­u­lous­ly, do exact­ly what I need­ed — name­ly, mag­i­cal­ly fig­ure out how best to clus­ter each tag with relat­ed tags. I fig­ured four clus­ters would be a com­fort­able num­ber, based on ear­li­er read­ing I had done on a two-axis the­o­ry of musi­cal emo­tion (intense/relaxed and positive/negative).

topographical cluster visualization

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, my com­put­er sim­ply could­n’t han­dle even con­struct­ing and decon­struct­ing the foo­bar tree with­out freez­ing up for about 45 min­utes each time. Plus, col­lect­ing all this data would have meant hours and hours of work, for a goal whose ben­e­fits weren’t very clear to me at all, as well as a halt in incor­po­rat­ing new down­loads into my library. It was a pret­ty excit­ing cou­ple days while it last­ed though.

A Flat Hierarchy for Subjective mp3 Tags

I’ve always been anal about the way my mp3s are tagged. Before the iPod, Audio­scrob­bler, and foobar2000, it was an irra­tional obses­sion, since I keep my music well-sort­ed on my hard dri­ve. But there’s some­thing so “offi­cial” about mp3 tags that I find appeal­ing.

A few years ago this fix­a­tion extend­ed to a pro­gram called Mood­Log­ic, which applies a user-main­tained data­base of real­ly spe­cif­ic infor­ma­tion about songs to con­struct playlists to match par­tic­u­lar moods. In the end it proved more work than it was worth for me, so I aban­doned it, but I’ve always wished for a sim­i­lar­ly intu­itive method of music brows­ing and playlist cre­ation (come on, alpha­bet­i­cal­ly?).

The genre tag has always been the most elu­sive. The sub­jec­tive if not total­ly base­less dis­tinc­tions between “Pop/Rock,” “Rock,” and “Pop” are enough to aggra­vate even the mildest case of OCD. I nev­er both­ered with this kind of cat­e­go­riza­tion until recent­ly when I real­ized that foobar2000 can han­dle mul­ti­ple val­ues for one tag field. Inter­est­ing…

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