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Help with organizing soundtracks

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One of my pet projects before I started working on Civil Protection was to try and organize my music using a more intuitive system. I've had several ideas on this, but nothing that's been fully satisfactory. In general I don't want to have to think about music when I want to play it, just select a general style or mood and have everything that plays be similar.

 

I came up with the idea of having custom genre tags for the rock/metal/industrial spectrum of music that I listened to that worked out well. The basic idea was I came up with different categories of music I thought sounded well together based on a general theme. I was going to try something similar for electronic music, but for something like soundtracks, there's so much diversity, it might lead to way too many categories to be practical.

 

I've had some other ideas regarding soundtrack organization like having some sort of tree graph or music “map” where I could just pick a “region” of music and have it work from there, but haven't found much software to accommodate that.

 

Anyway, the purpose of this post is to try and get any insight from other music freaks who want to better organize their music besides just clumping them together by soundtrack or composer. If you have any good ideas or know of good software for this task, post it here. I'll be making this a sticky thread since this is an ongoing pursuit of mine.

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If you want to group it by mood, I'd just go for having folders called things like 'eerie', 'desperate action', 'dramatic escape', 'small joke' and 'peaceful forest'. Things like that. Then whenever you've got a specific mood for a scene, you just navigate to the folder that best describes the mood. Obviously you'd need a large library of music for all this or you'd just have an army of empty folders...

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You could try organizing them according to the type of game they belong or by the type of music they have, that way when you are looking for an specific type of music you'll find all of your similar albums together.

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I doubt, that organizing folders according to mood is a good option - at least I organize my music by artist\year - album\, and have separate folder for soundtracks, where games and movies are separated by titles. Knowing, that same soundtrack\album may, and will contain music with different moods, separating music into different folders by mood makes more mess, than helps.

 

Actually, I've been using one very handy application, called MusicIP Mixer. It analyzes your music with some sort of algorithms. Then you can pick a particular song (or group of songs), and make a mix with similar music from your collection. I must admit, I like it very much. The criteria for "similarity" is also configurable (style preference, variety, artist preference, decade lock, etc.), so if you're not happy with results of mixes, you can tweak it.

 

Of course, it doesn't actually help you to organize, but still, is a very good tool, when you are seeking for a particular mood in music (heck, you can even save "moods" ). I call it my own radio (since I have loads of music, and am not familiar with all of it).

 

Having said that, there are sad news - officially this program is no longer supported (still, it's nice, that they provide the download link). I'm running Windows XP 32bit, and have no problems, but people with Win7 or/and 64bits might be unable to use it ;/

 

EDIT: urls aren't coloured differently, so I'm pulling the link out of BBCode: http://www.amplifindmusicservices.com/what/downloads.php (Ross, this needs to be fixed ;])

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My 2 cents - mood is a good way of compiling music - but perhaps the artist could give you their intended mood or screen action.

Also I think tempo and key would be also handy - matching key and tempo does help transition between scenes.

 

Maybe when you are asking for music to be submitted for your work you can specify key and tempo. Generally when I've written music for a scene I had the scene provided to me with a rough edit and dialogue.

 

Just a though.

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I doubt, that organizing folders according to mood is a good option - at least I organize my music by artist\year - album\, and have separate folder for soundtracks, where games and movies are separated by titles. Knowing, that same soundtrack\album may, and will contain music with different moods, separating music into different folders by mood makes more mess, than helps.

 

Actually, I've been using one very handy application, called MusicIP Mixer. It analyzes your music with some sort of algorithms. Then you can pick a particular song (or group of songs), and make a mix with similar music from your collection. I must admit, I like it very much. The criteria for "similarity" is also configurable (style preference, variety, artist preference, decade lock, etc.), so if you're not happy with results of mixes, you can tweak it.

 

Of course, it doesn't actually help you to organize, but still, is a very good tool, when you are seeking for a particular mood in music (heck, you can even save "moods" ). I call it my own radio (since I have loads of music, and am not familiar with all of it).

 

Having said that, there are sad news - officially this program is no longer supported (still, it's nice, that they provide the download link). I'm running Windows XP 32bit, and have no problems, but people with Win7 or/and 64bits might be unable to use it ;/

 

EDIT: urls aren't coloured differently, so I'm pulling the link out of BBCode: http://www.amplifindmusicservices.com/what/downloads.php (Ross, this needs to be fixed ;])

 

+1 Great post, I was also gonna suggest Itunes' Genius but this is way better.

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Qwk: I've tried this software in the past before. It was a step in the right direction, though not a cure-all method. I think I could organize a lot of my own music, but a less rigid system than folders is more preferable, I agree. My end goal is still just to select a general mood or style and not have to put any thought into it after that.

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Ok I've used this very briefly, and I like it. It does exactly what you are looking for. The only downside is that it organizes them into very basic mood categories, 10 to be exact, using colors to denote a happier or sadder mood. This link is only a demo, but i think its 10 dollars on the developer's website. Tell me what you think.

 

http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/37199/chromatunes

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Well I don't use a mac, itunes, a lot of my music is custom stuff from games that is unlikely to be indexed, and I think moods may be a little more complex than a happy or sad spectrum.

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Winamp provides you with a automatic Genre distinction. As to decide which track is the most fitting for a scene/series whatever, you still have to judge for yourself. I don`t think there is a functioning program out there which can do that. And I`m glad there isn`t. Think of the Terminator movies 8-) ! Protect Sarah Connor!!!

 

 

Btw.: www.lastfm.de -> nice tool to find "new" music ;)

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Hey, I think I might be able to offer some help if you further detail the system you currently use and the major flaws you encounter using it. I could aid in increasing its efficacy, at least as an attempt to pacify you until you find a more complex tool that suits you.

 

If you already have a detailed idea of what kind of software you would use, however, I could try to drum something up using your design. Just the logistics behind it should suffice (Like having a search bar you could enter tags into to search your library for songs that you manually attached the searched tags to).

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Hey, I think I might be able to offer some help if you further detail the system you currently use and the major flaws you encounter using it. I could aid in increasing its efficacy, at least as an attempt to pacify you until you find a more complex tool that suits you.

 

If you already have a detailed idea of what kind of software you would use, however, I could try to drum something up using your design. Just the logistics behind it should suffice (Like having a search bar you could enter tags into to search your library for songs that you manually attached the searched tags to).

The system I'm trying to use is to use custom genre tags once I identify a theme I want to cluster the music together on. The biggest problem I'm having is deciding what themes to have. I don't want TOO many, but my ideal goal is to be able to select a custom genre and just hit random play and all the music will more or less match once I've sorted it.

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The system I'm trying to use is to use custom genre tags once I identify a theme I want to cluster the music together on. The biggest problem I'm having is deciding what themes to have. I don't want TOO many, but my ideal goal is to be able to select a custom genre and just hit random play and all the music will more or less match once I've sorted it.

Hmm, this is where things get tricky, and it's also why there aren't very many large-scale programs that attempt this. Every variable that goes into this is so specific to each individual user. It's hard for a program to be able to account for fluctuations in personal genre definitions.

 

The best shot for that would be creating a program that allows you to tag any song with any number of user generated tags, and have the user go by each song and each tag manually rating each tag's accuracy to each song it's attached to. This would take a long time to calibrate by the user, especially because I've tried this before and I found myself endlessly calibrating each tag's accuracy and found that I change my mind too frequently. If you have more solid thought processes than me though, then the idea would be for the program to generate a list based off of the tags you searched and order them by most appropriate to least appropriate. The way I did it is I used tags for mood and how the music itself plays, but that came with some problems. A song that's both happy and fast-tempo wouldn't give the exact same feeling as something that's happy and slow-tempo, but it shares the same number of tags as something that's sad and fast-tempo, even when it's closer in mood to the one that's happy and slow-tempo, at least in my experience.

 

As I'm writing this I'm beginning to realize that maybe I was more focused on creating the perfect algorithm to suit my needs than I was with creating something that works well enough. I don't have infinite free time, but I'd be willing to work on a design with you, or anybody else who has any ideas, and eventually make a program to that design. Let me know if you have any way to enhance this or if I shouldn't even bother. If you're having difficulty understanding what I described I'll make a small demonstration, if you think it might interest you.

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So I see Ross's quest continues.

 

As a programmer with a bit of free time at the time I might be interested in tackling this too.

 

Watterson: what I would do, is probably have tempo separate from moods/genres. Also for tempo I would prefer using BPM (at least under the hood).

 

Finally, since adding information to songs is such a huge task I would love to utilize some existing database and pull tags to make it easier for end users.

 

After looking around for a bit I've found this: http://developer.echonest.com/docs/v4/song.html Still need to look more into licensing, but at the first glance it looks well suited for my needs.

Each song is fingerprinted. Then each track has multitude of attributes. For example:

 

style: jazz, metal^2

mood: happy, sad^.5

max_tempo: 0.0 < tempo < 500.0 (BPM)

min_tempo: 0.0 < tempo < 500.0 (BPM)

 

Haven't played with it yet. It might work, or it might be to much/to constrained (requires API key, etc). Not sure how useful their playlist creation options are, this one could be done in-house.

 

I just want fingerprint option. That allows me to avoid modifying end-user's mp3 files. Instead I can have an internal database, that uses fingerprints to identify unique files.

And then I need metadata, to minimize end-user work.

 

Here's a list of all moods from this system, I think this could be enough:

 

 

{"response": {"status": {"version": "4.2", "code": 0, "message": "Success"}, "terms": [{"name": "aggressive"}, {"name": "ambient"}, {"name": "angry"}, {"name": "angst-ridden"}, {"name": "bouncy"}, {"name": "calming"}, {"name": "carefree"}, {"name": "cheerful"}, {"name": "cold"}, {"name": "complex"}, {"name": "cool"}, {"name": "dark"}, {"name": "disturbing"}, {"name": "dramatic"}, {"name": "dreamy"}, {"name": "eerie"}, {"name": "elegant"}, {"name": "energetic"}, {"name": "enthusiastic"}, {"name": "epic"}, {"name": "fun"}, {"name": "funky"}, {"name": "futuristic"}, {"name": "gentle"}, {"name": "gleeful"}, {"name": "gloomy"}, {"name": "groovy"}, {"name": "happy"}, {"name": "harsh"}, {"name": "haunting"}, {"name": "humorous"}, {"name": "hypnotic"}, {"name": "industrial"}, {"name": "intense"}, {"name": "intimate"}, {"name": "joyous"}, {"name": "laid-back"}, {"name": "light"}, {"name": "lively"}, {"name": "manic"}, {"name": "meditation"}, {"name": "melancholia"}, {"name": "mellow"}, {"name": "mystical"}, {"name": "ominous"}, {"name": "party music"}, {"name": "passionate"}, {"name": "pastoral"}, {"name": "peaceful"}, {"name": "playful"}, {"name": "poignant"}, {"name": "quiet"}, {"name": "rebellious"}, {"name": "reflective"}, {"name": "relax"}, {"name": "romantic"}, {"name": "rowdy"}, {"name": "sad"}, {"name": "sentimental"}, {"name": "sexy"}, {"name": "smooth"}, {"name": "soothing"}, {"name": "sophisticated"}, {"name": "spacey"}, {"name": "spiritual"}, {"name": "strange"}, {"name": "sweet"}, {"name": "theater"}, {"name": "trippy"}, {"name": "warm"}, {"name": "whimsical"}], "type": "mood"}}

 

 

And here's all the styles:

 

 

 

 

Ross, Watterson, what do you guys think?

Would style (aka genre) + mood + tempo organization work for you?

 

We could always limit the styles and moods we're using. Or we could create "themes" - a list of styles and moods would be a theme.

Would this work?

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