Cataloguing Schubert Symphonies

Schubert's symphonies are surprisingly tricky things to catalogue correctly, although as someone who hasn't exactly been been a huge a fan of the man or his works, it's taken me quite a long time to realise the extent of the problem!

I noticed it today, though, as Giocoso decided to randomly select Schubert for a couple of plays: [...] 

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Spring Cleaning

A glance at my software downloads page will tell you that it wasn't just Giocoso which had lately developed a problem with accented characters on Manjaro+KDE. In fact, every piece of software I've written which uses the metaflac utility to read FLAC metadata tags suffered from the same problem. Accordingly, all needed to be fixed and all now have been fixed; each utility can therefore be updated whenever you're ready, using the utility name plus the --checkver run-time switch.

In other words, if you wanted to bump AES to its latest version, you'd type aes --checkver. If you needed to upgrade Niente, it would be niente --checkver. And so on. [...] 

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Scarlatti In Bulk

Thanks to another recent video by David Hurwitz, I was finally persuaded to bite the bullet and splash out on the complete Domenico Scarlatti keyboard sonatas as performed by Scott Ross (the album artwork of which appears off to the left). It's a 34-CD collection, available for purchase from Presto Classical at only around £2.50 a box, which seems reasonable value to me.

Curiously, this collection of works has previously been discussed by me in comments on this blog piece, where I was asked by 'DACO' how I would go about tagging the multiple Chopin Nocturnes or the even more multitudinous Scarlatti keyboard sonatas. I had to answer DACO in that exchange in the abstract, since I didn't at that point actually own the Scarlatti. The general principle I advanced, however, was: group lots of little pieces together in whatever way makes them accessible and attractive to play. Thus, I could speak from experience: a CD of Britten arrangements of folksongs would be ripped and catalogued as a single collection of folksongs, rather than 21 short pieces of (usually) less than 3 minutes' duration. Similarly, I had only just completed a re-rip of the complete works of Percy Grainger, where because of the quantity of music involved, and its overall great similarity, I found it more expedient to essentially rip entire CDs as 'Grainger Compilations' than try to separate out each individual composition as its own 'album'. [...] 

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It's not just Easytag... :(

In my last post, I pointed out the shenanigans that ensue when you use Easytag to update the metadata associated with your FLAC music files. Specifically, I demonstrated how Easytag will silently, and without the opportunity to configure the behaviour, change the name of a tag from COMMENT to DESCRIPTION.

When you then go on to use software which expects a tag to be called COMMENT, this causes problems! [...] 

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Easytag Garbage Creation

I had been subsconsciously aware of a problem for quite a while, but had paid it no real attention: whenever I looked, a lot of my music files seemed to lack proper performer details! The tracks played fine and everything else about them seemed OK, but just no 'conducted by, orchestra playing is, soprano singing is...' stuff. I'd noticed it, in a casual sort of way, from time to time... but because you can live without knowing that particular information at your fingertips, I mostly just did.

I had also vaguely registered (erroneously, as it turns out!) that the problem was with a lot of music I remember buying in the 1990s and ripping in the early 2000s, so I put it down to sloppy tagging habits, waaay back before I knew any better. But it wasn't and isn't. It is a tale of software shenanigans and garbage programming that really kind of ticks me off, to be frank. So, first: let me show you the problem... [...] 

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Artists' Artistry

In order to get media around the house, to various rooms and devices, on an as-needed basis, I've deployed various mechanisms in my time -including such things as DLNA servers and other various forms of home-brew wonderment.

A couple of years back, I lighted on Plex Media Server, which is a really very capable music- and video-streaming programme with a reasonable media management library attached. It is open-source and thus entirely free of charge, but there are some "value-add" options available which are only available if you shell out for a 'Plex Pass'. That's quite expensive: it's listed on the page I've just linked to at £4 per month or £95 for a "lifetime" pass (I put the quotes around 'lifetime' only because I don't honestly know how long these open source projects will last before egos and desire for profit make the thing pass like ships in the night!). [...] 

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Classical CD Ripper - Updated

To accompany the updates to all my other audio-related scripts which have been published of late, the Classical CD Ripper has also now been updated. As with all the other software updates of late, the changes are in three basic categories: cosmetic, distro-awareness and year-in-album functionality.

The cosmetic changes are just to add a little colour to the various prompts and warning messages, so that you can tell the difference more easily between questions the software asks (white text) and the answers you type (yellow). Errors or other unusual conditions will now display in red. Not all terminals will display the colours, but they won't garble their displays if they can't handle the colours either. [...] 

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Fixing Mistakes #3: Fixing the ALBUM tag

This is the last in my series of three posts explaining what I've done to fix up a silly cataloguing error in my extensive music library. The problem was first described back here. But to recap: whilst I have always "allowed" the inclusion of a recording year in the ALBUM tag where it was necessary (to distinguish, for example, between Boult's 1959 and 1968 recordings of Vaughan Williams' 9th symphony), I only added the recording date rarely, and as an exception to the norm. Rethinking the logic of what counts as recorded music's primary key, however, I realised that the recording date should always and without exception be included in a recording's ALBUM tag.

So, the past few posts have been about the scripts I wrote to (a) check every recording had a recording year stored in its YEAR tag; (b) to check that those recordings that had a date included in their ALBUM tag matched there what their YEAR tag said should apply as the recording date. [...] 

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Fixing Mistakes #2: Checking the ALBUM tag

So, this is the next in a mini-series of posts, explaining how I went about fixing up the discovery that I'd tagged my music files incorrectly after all these years, despite knowing better!

The short version is that I always knew the recording date was an important factor in distinguishing between recordings of the same work by the same artist, but since I didn't often have duplicates, I assumed I'd get away without including it in the ALBUM tag for a composition. And then I realised that though I might well get away with it today, a new acquisition here or there could well mean that I wouldn't get away with it for ever: if the information is theoretically necessary to distinguish recordings, then it ought to be present, always[...] 

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Fixing Mistakes #1 : Checking the YEAR tag

My last post explained that my music collection needed to be re-catalogued to some extent. In particular, I needed to make sure that every track I've ever ripped has an entry in its YEAR tag, identifying when a particular recording was made (because that little piece of information turns out to be a crucial component in classical music recordings' "primary key")

I wasn't going to check all 64,000+ ripped audio tracks by hand to achieve this! Instead, I needed to script something that could batch-check my entire collection in one go. [...] 

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