A Digital Symphony

A classical music lover’s guide to enjoying your collection on a computer.

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Using iTunes for music on the go

I am not suggesting that you use iTunes as your main library manager. Although it has improved (supporting composer, work and movement), the metadata is much more limited than alternatives such as Muso. If, however, you want a (smaller) version of your library to keep on your iPod/iPhone etc., then it is fairly simple to import it to iTunes and still be able to find the music by album or opus. The approach I use is:

Step 5: Import to iTunes (if required)

Step 5a) Use dBpoweramp Music Converter or equivalent to convert files to m4a (or mp3). Note that some care in tag naming is required to achieve the desired result, particularly if using m4a (see the “notes for iTunes users” section in the “Classical Extras” page for details).

Step 5b) Now (ideally) you need a neat bit of software called "iTunes Library Toolkit". This can be used to automatically add to the iTunes library any music that has been placed into its "watch folder" by dBpoweramp. Furthermore, its "Custom Browse" feature can be used to automatically generate a playlist of works by composer. I use the following folder structure for this playlist: Initial letter of Composer (sorted) then Work.

Step 5c) Sync to the iPod etc. CDs can now be accessed by original album name from the Album menu (or as Works, by composer, from the playlist - if you did 5b).

Step 5d) (Optional, if you also want to use Muso to play the mp3/m4a format library on the local machine) In Muso options, switch to the "personal database". Import the mp3/m4a files to Muso using "import specific folder". Note that import actions may differ for m4a as the tag names may be different from the FLAC tag names.

Logitech Media Server

Make sure you have the latest version of LMS 7.9, to get proper sorting of Composers, Conductors etc.

If you want the SB touch displays described here you will need the Custom Clock app on each SB touch plus the Custom Clock Helper plugin in LMS. You can design your own screen or use the one shown here by downloading and importing this file.

To get the Sort Table for Artists into Muso you will need to import them. Set up the configuration (under Tools – Options – Music Sources) as follows:


dBpoweramp Music Converter (only needed if you want a standalone portable iTunes library)
I convert to mp3 (or m4a to use the latest - March 2017 - iTunes classical music tags), but this is just a personal choice. I set the output location to be dynamic, with the first section of the path pointing to (a folder in) the iTunes media library folder and with the second section of the path as follows:
[tag]CDNAME[][IFMULTI]Disc[disc][][track] [title]

In DSP actions, add "Folder.jpg preserve" (and include other file types as required, e.g. .pdf for sleevenotes).

Note that, if you use the suggested Classical Extras options, "style" will convert into "grouping" on mp3/m4a conversion.

You might also need to make entries in dBpoweramp Configuration. On the Audio Codecs section: set ["mp3 ID tagging - Tag Creation" to "ID3v2", "ID3v2 version" to "2.3" and "ID3v2 Text Encoding" to "UTF-16"] "m4a tagging compatibility" to "iTunes Tags". I believe that these are now the default settings in the current version of dBpoweramp, but it is probably worthwhile checking.

iTunes configuration
Here the important thing is not to let iTunes manage your library for you. In Edit - Preferences... Advanced, clear the boxes that say "Keep iTunes Media folder organised" and "Copy files to Media folder when adding to the library". (The latter assumes that you have already placed your files in the library folder if you followed the path described above).

If you want to modify m4a tags using Picard/Classical Extras then that is possible, but the tag names are limited. In particular, at present, Picard does not support "movement name" so I suggest you write this to "subtitle" then use a simple Mp3Tag script to convert it to "MOVEMENTNAME" (the alias of movement name within Mp3Tag). A richer set of tag names is achived by modifying the FLAC files and re-converting to m4a.

iTunes Library Toolkit (optional)
This will manage your iTunes library for you. Set the "New Media" watch folder to be where your music is in the iTunes library. Set the "Custom Browse" playlist path to be
Work by Composer %C1 %C %g (%a)
Set the null value of %g to be "(no work)".