Composer view, sorts and filters

As it seems the composer is available at least through the Kodi API, and as I saw a similar feature request being open for Yatse: are there any plan to make use of the composer in Symfonium? It could at least be used in sorts and filters, but a dedicated composer view (like artists, album artists etc.) would definitely be interesting.

@splinter with a reasonably large classical music collection I was really excited when Kodi added handling of the composer tag, but I prefered using Yatse (not the Kodi GUI on TV) and I realised I could get everything I wanted without having composers from tag. I’m wondering what you think having access to that composer tag data would do for you?

The problem I found with the composers tag is that for non-classical music even tagging using Musicbrainz Picard the data is very incomplete, and other than being extra information to show about a song it was weak for sorting or filtering use. For example seeing all the songs composed by Prince (and performed by a huge diversity of artists) is novel, but tedious if you only have some of them. As for a composers view, Kodi has such a node, and it soon shows how junk filled pop composer tag data is. Having the pop and classical composers mixed togther in one list was unuseable, and source or genre filtering essential. I have to wonder if any user really bothers with using this Kodi feature.

When it came to classical music I wanted to be able to separate the composers from the conductors, orchestras and other album artists etc. and see the albums with music by those composers. The fast way to do that was to add “composer” or “conductor” to the tag of the artist.nfo, and then use smart filtering. An artist smart filter on type = “Orchestra” covered those nicely because scraping artist information from Musicbrainz fetches that information.

So I’m really curious if you have a use for this that I haven’t thought of :slight_smile:

I do all tagging manually, so I never run into problems with Musicbrainz or other scraping databases :slight_smile: My classical collection is small and currently growing a little, and I use the composer tag for classical releases exclusively.

I think it would add a nice way of navigating though my classical collection, because more often I want to listen to Beethoven than to Karajan conducting Beethoven. Especially as I usually only have one recording of any work, going through the composer would be more precise than going by the artist.

Artist is in my case is always “Conductor / Orchestra” (so Kodi splits the artists up), sometimes I add a renowned soloist. But to stay with the example, Karajan will most likely cover multiple composers. At the moment and due to the minimal size of my classical collection, I go Genre: Classical → All albums in Symfonium and simply select the album I want to listen to. As I add the release year of the composition as the track date (e.g. 1824 for any Beethoven 9. Symphony movement), and Kodi seems to take the lowest track date as album date, the album list ordered by year gives at least some “epochal” ordering.

Another thing where a composer view would be helpful is releases which have works of different composers performed by one artist. Sometimes you want to listen to the whole concert (then navigate by the usual way though artist or album lists), but sometimes you want to listen to music from a dedicated composer.

I don’t think that I have any use for the composer tag in other genres. Definitely not in Pop/Rock, as it makes no sense to me to keep the maintenance up there. And often enough songs are written by composers who are not performers, so it would be not only be your example of someone else covering Prince, but also a long list of composers which nobody has ever heard of.

I thought about using composers for “symphonic” soundtracks, but I have a different approach there. I use the main composer as artist for his compositions, while the usual end credits song gets the artist actually performing it. I also add the main composer as an album artist, and so the overall album gets sorted under that entry (think of “James Bond - Goldfinger”, album artist John Barry, title track artist Shirley Bassey, all other tracks artist John Barry. I use “album artists only” in artist lists, so there is an entry for John Barry in the artists list, and that will contain the album). I could use composer in a similar way as the album artist now, but why, and also it is even less correct for many albums.

In Classical libraries, this is pretty much the standard

Album Artists tend to include ‘composer’,‘band/orchestra’,‘conductor’ as available or just the recording artist if it’s a soloist of some sort. Or just the conductor.

Composer is the composer

Artist Name is the composer because most clients don’t read the composer tag [yet–prepare to see a lot more on this when Primephonic/Apple Classical Music comes along].

When you get to non-classical libraries with symphonic soundtracks (i.e. John Williams’ OST), the album artist is “Soundtrack” and the artist is “John Williams.” In the case of Goldfinger, album artist is “Soundtrack” but artist is Shirley Bassey for one track and John Barry for the rest.

Interesting, this misuses most of the tags (composer in artist tag, performer or something else including genre in album artist tag), but it probably reflects the general state of client implementations. Too bad that only a basic part of the ID3 (and other) specifications are properly implemented by many clients.

I am quite happy that Kodi and subsequently Symfonium (which I now use as my sole smartphone music player) live up to my needs here mostly. The only thing missing is the parsing of the “sort album” tag by Kodi (Kodi creates its own sort album name), but this is at least on the roadmap.

My base of operations is iTunes on Windows (configured in the old-style title view), where you can make good use of both the album artist and the composer (as well as their sort variants). It will not take long though until iTunes will be discontinued. I really dread that day.

To come back to the initial question: I can live without the composer tag, and it should be probably verified if there are really enough use cases to implement something here (i.e. if the composer tag is used properly out in the field). But as it is offered by the Kodi API (I think), I thought it might be a nice way to include it in Symfonium as well.

Windows? Foobar2000 is where you want to be.

I don’t like the looks of that - not that iTunes is very pretty, but I got used to it since 2003… But foobar2000 will come under deep consideration once I need a new tool.

I stayed with iTunes because it nicely manages files and tags, and because it offers an XML version of the library which I parse with a self-programmed script to export my music elsewhere in the fashion that I want. Before I used Symfonium, I used file-based (as opposed to library-based) players on the smartphone, and for that it was crucial to have the file structure to my likings. In my car I also use the file-based built-in player. With that I had the same user experience everywhere regarding where to find which song. Let’s see if I keep that up, with Symfonium this changed now for smartphone and UPnP playback in the house…

tile view – something like this?

If you do the tagging right for classical (feed it into Picard with the Classical Extras plugin enabled), you will achieve that mix of composer and album artist I think you’re talking about. Here is my classical library in Symfonium under Album Artists view: performers, composers, conductors, and orchestras all appear and can lead me to the same album/track depending on which I decide to click. You can have Picard rename files any way you want.

Which is to say, classical music SHOULD be kept separately from your non-classical – they will very likely have a different filenaming scheme.

With foobar2000, you can have separate views for any of your music. I have a list for all of my music (including classical) which I can sort (because I chose these tags): album artist, title, album, sample rate, genre, original date, and format/bitrate. When I sort by album artist here, anything composed by Verdi will appear with the rest of the album artists starting with “G” (for Giuseppe Verdi). I can just go the “artists” tab and get nothing but composers, since that’s kind of the standard right now.

In Foobar I have it set so I can jump to all of my classical music and have a separate view for that. For that, I hve “album artist” hidden but can sort by Composer, Title, and Album–or whatever else I want. If you spend some time tinkering with it I’m sure it’ll meet your needs and exceed what iTunes provided.

Of all the Android music player apps out there, Symfonium is quickly approaching the versatility found in foobar. It’s the media servers who are lagging and the fact that Symfonium/Android can’t read most of these local tags yet.

Down the line when more are supporting it (and I’ll write something pretty specific up about this in a feature request) I think you and I both want to see dedicated “composer” views that are achievable with current-standard-tagging now in the “artists” tab.

Forgive me with the word soup I don’t have enough time to properly proofread

Actually I would prefer a dedicated composer view, because a mixed view with performers, conductors etc. could be reached already. The Picard way currently does not look very appealing to me.

That is why the composer tag would be interesting, because it does not mix the semantics with the other groups.

Regarding file naming - I think that is a general decision to take. If you rely on libraries, the filenames do not matter, but the tagging needs to be adapted to the tool. If you rely on filenames, the the tags get a different meaning, because they are being used for file name construction primarily. I think for me the direction goes to libraries, but on the other hand that works only as long as there are nice tools/players available.

Yes I have exactly that - a classical composer view - with Symfonium already simply using smart filters. :slight_smile:

@AWren, could you show a screenshot of the exact filter setting?

I have my classical music on a separate source, so I set the source filter to just that and then load this smart filter

As I explained I use field in artist.nfo to identify those artists that are composers. This gives me complete control over both composers and conductors, or any other way I would like to filter artists. For example

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes" ?>
    <name>Alexander Glazunov</name>
    <sortname>Glazunov, Alexander</sortname>
    <yearsactive>1890s - 1930s</yearsactive>
    <biography>Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov was a Russian composer, music teacher, and conductor of the late Russian Romantic period.</biography>

You are thinking, “but I’ve tagged my music files with composer that is better…” well I don’t think so. :slight_smile: That gives the names of the composer(s) of a song, which may or may not match the name of (one of) the album artist(s) or song artist(s). Even if this app (or any other) codified those composer names and filtered etc. on them what that gives you is songs.

What you want (or at least what I want) is an easy way to see my classical composers, pick one see their albums (maybe filtered by other things too like period, or subgenre) and then onwards. I want to filter on an artist property (as assigned my me) more than a song property. Song tag values can also be assigned by me too of course, but makes more sense to in effect “tag” the artist as a classical composer (or conductor or sax player etc.) than put that data down in every music file and then want the apps to filter artists on the property of songs on albums by them.

Interesting approach, which needs extra metadata files though. Of course something similar cannot be achieved with file-based tags at the moment… which is why I asked for a composer view comparable to an artist view. Only then you could achieve a Composer → albums listing based on music file tags. As there is no “album composer” (comparable to “album artist”), it is of course questionable if an album can be assigned to a composer as such (how to deal with multiple composers in one album then - is it listed with every of those composers, or with none of them?).

But I think I will not go the extra mile to start managing artist.nfo files. I currently have 27 classical albums, and even if the number goes upto 50 or 100, it will be manageable with the current tools. And the artist.nfo if “limited” to Kodi, which might not always remain my media center of choice. Staying with file-based tags might limit my options, but will always be compatible.

Still I will think about your approach - until now I was not even fully aware of the artist.nfo options.

Exactly. Also even with classsical music you can have more than one composer of a track (often a transctiption situation, or arrangement but treated like a composer). With classical music, and possibly similar with soundtracks or situations where the composer is a key way of accessing the music, it makes sense to chose to include the composer(s) of the song as artist and album artist. Then you get albums where the tracks are by a mix of composers, for example in classical guitar recitals etc., there I set the composer(s) as artist and the album artist is the gutarist. Then you get albums with a mix of main composers like that of the Bruch and Mendellson violin concertos which are often paired on a release. I include both composers as album artists for all the tracks, (it is a Bruch & Mendellson album) but only one of them as artist for the tracks of the related concerto.

Another way to think about it is that a recording has performers and it has those that contribute in other ways such as compose or produce. Then an album overall and each song has key named entities (individual people, groups, or organisations like choirs and orchestras) that we want to use to access the music frequently, we think of as “from them” and that is what we tag as artist(s) and album artist(s). These may be the same as the composer or a performer, or completely different, we get to choose what matters to us most when accessing that music.

Enjoy extending your classical music collection over time :slight_smile:

I think I tend not to go into that detail regarding production participants. For most of my collection, one main artist is enough to adress an album. Especially in Jazz you often have collaborations, but I managed until recently to assign the album to one “leading” artist, where I will find it again (just like the CD, which can only have one position in the shelf - and the vast majority of my music collection comes from CDs I own). Only with the use of Symfonium I started to use split artists.

I do not care about writers or producers, arrangers or remixers. Even for soundtracks the album title (i.e. the movie) is most of the times more relevant to me than the composer. For classical music this is different now. Using the composer in the artist tag and the performer as album artist makes quite sense to me here if I could not use the composer tag.

In iTunes I use the column browser - the three columns on top of the song/album list in the following image. I configured four columns: Genre - Composer - Artist - Album, and that is how I go through my library. Composer is empty for all but Genre:Classical.


We have had a long and interesting discussion, but coming back to my original question and our “main artist” - @Tolriq, any plans for the composer tag? :slight_smile:

I was nice out of this discussion :stuck_out_tongue:

But the answer is not in a way that you’d love.

All I could eventually do is add a text field on the songs and use that as raw filter, not related to the artist data. Remember that it’s a song only data, as you said what about albums should an album with one song from a composer be shown? There’s no dual filters so when opening the album you’d see all songs.

That would have a very very limited use and I seriously do not think that it’s worth the trouble.

Yeah, I thought so when I realised that during the discussion. I had hoped that something like the virtual views for years would be possible, but I guess Kodi even assigns one year to an album if the individual tracks have different years (it seems to be the oldest year), while for composers that does not make sense.

I would of course vote for showing an album under a composer if at least one track has that composer, but that would not fit to the artist behaviour. A track view on the other hand might not be very helpful in the context we discussed above.

Too bad.

@AWren , @daniro - after some consideration I basically ignored most of the hints and guidelines you mentioned or I found on classical music tagging (I found this article on “the axioms of classical music tagging” quite interesting) and developed my own system, which translates very well into the UIs I currently use:

  • Composer: is the composer, obviously
  • Album artist: is also the composer. With this, the composers show up as as artists in the list of the classical genre in Symfonium.
  • Artist: is the actual artist, usually “Conductor / Orchestra” or “Soloist / Conductor / Orchestra”. In Symfonium I usually only view the album artists, but with this I can also enable Conductor- or Orchestra-based navigation
  • Year: the original composition year, not the year of the recording. With that, the works of one composer are listed chronologically when sorting by year.
  • Album title: Usually the full title like “Symphony No. 9 in D minor, WAB 109” (for Bruckner’s Ninth). If I have different recordings of the same work, then I append conductor, orchestra an year of recording in short form in brackets to the title, e.g. “(Jochum/BP, 1964)”. I also try to use consistent wording for the titles to differentiate between different types of works - I use “Symphony”, “Piano Concert”, “Cello Concert”, “Piano Sonata” etc. as the start of the title. That makes sorting a little more consistent for me.
  • Track title: Usually movement number and tempo, or whatever the composer named it (“1. Feierlich, misterioso”)

With that system, I get my classical library organized in a way that I like. It does not correspond to any of the de-facto standards, but as I do the music tagging myseslf it is no problem. In the meantime my classical collection grew to 140 albums, although many of them are not albums in the sense of a single CD, but of a single work (e.g. one piano sonata is one album, although three of them are on one CD). This is the first time I deviate from the 1:1 reproduction of the CD to the digital files. I took that idea from the article linked above.