Classical music sorting ideas

I just recently bit the bullet and switched from the integrated iTunes implementation of A+ to the native A+ database. I did this to accommodate playing DSD files since A+ v2.x doesn’t create proxy files that can be imported into iTunes. Anyway, I’m happy with the A+ database but am interested in how people sort their mixed libraries of classical and other music. In iTunes I was used to being able to set a sort key for individual albums such that non-classical albums were sorted by album artist (last name) and classical albums by composer. That, of course, is not directly possible with A+ since sort keys are not set by album. So, for example, if I have three albums by the London Symphony Orchestra (album artist) of Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart music, they all show-up under LSO. I’d prefer to have all of my Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart music in one spot, no matter what orchestra played them. Any ideas? I could just change the sort key from “album artist” to “composer” when looking at classical music. Is that what people are doing? I know, first world problems.

As a follow-up and test, I used XLD to set the Sort Album Artist metadata field for a classical album to the composer and replaced the old AIFF files with the newly modified versions. After A+ rebuilt its database this solved my issue, but implementing it for my entire classical library will be quite a daunting task. Maybe Damien can just make the Sort Album Artist metadata field visible in the album metadata view window, just like the Sort As field is visible for the album title. This would be much more convenient and useful than having to modify each album using a metadata editor like XLD. I stumbled on a workaround which is to sort by album title instead of album artist and to set the album title Sort As field to the composer of a given album. This, too, works, but seems like a clumsy workaround when you should just be able to use the Sort Album Artist metadata for its intended use.

not sure if i understand well,
but when you click an album cover, without selecting a song, you can see the Album Artist tab to change it…

In my A+ library, for non-classical albums I would like to sort on album artist (lastname first). This is fairly easy to implement by selecting the Show Artists List from the View menu and modifying the Name For Sort column for specific artists. For example, change “John Coltrane” to “Coltrane, John” and all of his albums are alphabetized with the other artists whose names start with “C”. It takes a while (I’m not done yet), but it works. For classical albums, I would like my library to be sorted by composer (lastname first) while still retaining the actual album artist. Implementing this the same way as above via the artists’ list, though, is not as straightforward since any given classical artist (for example, London Symphony Orchestra in my original post) might have albums of Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart but only one listing in the artist list. Changing that one listing to Bach, for example, doesn’t help me with the Beethoven and Mozart albums. The easiest way to accomplish what I want is to modify the Sort Album Artist metadata field on an album-by-album basis. This is not currently possible within A+.

Following further experimenting, I think I’ve come up with the easiest workaround for sorting my classical albums the way I want. Since a given album artist name is only listed once in the Artists List no matter how many albums of theirs you have, for those classical albums where a given album artist spans multiple composers, I made the album artist name unique for each composer by adding a space to the end of it. So, from my original example where I have separate albums by the London Symphony Orchestra playing Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart, I made the Bach album’s album artist “London Symphony Orchestra”(no extra space at the end), the Beethoven album’s album artist "London Symphony Orchestra "(one extra space at the end), and the Mozart album’s album artist "London Symphony Orchestra "(two extra spaces at the end). This creates three unique entries in the Artist List where I can now enter what I want in the Name For Sort column. This is not a very elegant method of accomplishing what I want, but it works and doesn’t require me to use XLD or some other metadata editor to modify the Sort Album Artist metadata and re-encode my classical library. It would be much more straightforward if you could edit the Sort Album Artist metadata inside of A+. I’ll keep dreaming. In the meantime, happy filing and sorting.

I noticed someone else here was struggling with the same problems which have troubled my library management for years (Hi Rachel2B).

Although there are grey areas so far as the separation of what I call “serious” music and “popular” music is concerned, it still suits me best to have two separate libraries, so that browsing and random plays do not involve both groups. Indeed at one time (long ago) I would play serious music with PureMusic and popular music with Fidelia!

Going back even further, it was a pain in iTunes, needing to reboot the application every time I wanted to switch library. In JRiver it was easy as you could toggle between the libraries without having to do anything tedious or time-consuming. With Audirvana’s library system it is possible to have more than one location for libraries but there is no obvious way that I can see to separate out the two main groups of music in listings.

To try to overcome this I have allocated specific genre playlists in two folders, so that if I look in either of these folders I get only the music of one group or the other. However, I have not been able to apply that separation to other smart playlists which might be, for example: 5 star ratings or 24/96, which deliver results across both groups. I have tried nesting the smart playlists in the specific group folder but they do not work just for that folder.

I have also tried to use an additional criterion in the smart playlists, where it allows you to specify where the files are. However, this does not work, either by dragging and dropping the source folder or by copying and pasting. I assume this is because that option has no facility for working with nested folders. Were it possible, I guess that would be a solution. As it is, finding my way around the library is difficult and less than ideal. I wondered if anyone else feels similarly…

Also, it looks like there is a severe limitation on the backing up of playlists nested in folders. I have the Serious music folder full of smart playlists for each composer and I have the Popular music folder full of smart playlists, one for each genre. I tried to export these as a block but only got a flat file and it looks like I will have to back up each of hundreds of playlists individually, which is going to take an age to do and, given the changes which may occur, I may have to start again when I have finished!

Finally, when it comes to entering or changing information in the metadata entry fields, none of the entries takes first time and usually I have to enter them three times to get it to stick, which makes a great things slightly less so. Am I alone in this?


PS Rachel - I have created smart playlists for each composer, so you can by doing this, create a scenario where you can view all your Bach or Beethoven in the one place.