[vorbis-dev] Re: [vorbis] Request for Standardization: classical music TAGS

Craig Dickson crdic at yahoo.com
Wed Oct 3 21:20:05 PDT 2001

Jonathan Walther wrote:

> In much music, the "ARTIST" tag has no meaning anyway.  There are very
> few artists producing music today, whether performer or composer.
> I say we should abolish the ARTIST tag altogether.  Its meaningless.
> Is there any less "art" in the producing of an album than in playing
> the guitar solo at the beginning?

I think you're getting into semantic quibbling here. The term "artist"
is pretty commonly understood, both in classical and pop music, to refer
to the principal performer/soloist (e.g. Horowitz, Perlman, Gould) or
ensemble. There is a bit of an ambiguity regarding ensembles large
enough to require a conductor, who, especially if he's famous, may be
considered more the "artist" than the orchestra. But that's why I think
"von Karajan/Berliner Phil." is a perfectly decent value for the ARTIST

Whether there is as much "art" in being the producer as in being the
vocalist is beside the point. Certainly there are records with which the
"artist" (i.e. the famous singer) had no involvement other than to
overdub a lead vocal after the producer chose the song, paid for an
arrangement, and supervised session musicians to record the musical
backdrop. But so what?

> Unlike POP, there are many many recordings of the popular works.

No, that's not unlike pop music at all. There are literally hundreds of
recordings by many, many different performers of many classic pop songs
(the "standards"). It's somewhat moreso in classical music simply
because the standard repertoire is smaller and more heavily concentrated
on the very small set of "world's favorite" pieces.

> Its not enough to know the name of the work (Symphony no. 1).  Or the
> composer (Beethoven).  You need to know *who played it*.  And sometimes
> conductors and performers rerecord works after they have new insight,
> or go to a new record label.

This is all equally true of pop music. I love the original 1973
Capitol/EMI version of Pink Floyd's "Money", but their 1981 CBS remake
is an atrocity. Since then they've recorded it at least once more, I'm
sure, on a concert album for whatever company they were signed to at the
time. I'm sure the Grateful Dead must have released at least a dozen
versions of "New New Minglewood Blues" over the course of their 30-year
career. I could go on, but you get the idea. There may be one "classic"
rendition of a song, but it's not often the only one, even by the same

> all those things MAY apply to pop music... but rarely.

You're underestimating this badly. To take only the most obvious
general-purpose examples, pop concert albums typically consist of songs
the public is already familiar with from studio recordings by the same
artist, and often alternate takes or remixes of hit songs will be
released as well, not always subtitled accordingly.

> Why complexify things by using XML metadata when we only need a few
> simple tags?  Why should we add the bloat of a complete XML parsing
> library when its so easy to get information from the appropriate tag?

Different subject. I don't really see a need for XML here either. All
I've said on the subject is that it wouldn't be hard to do.

> I think the GENRE tag is entirely appropriate for guessing how to
> display the tag info about the music the Ogg file contains.

I agree. That was my suggestion #3. So, that being the case, there is no
need for the ARTIST tag to be used for the composer's name in classical
music. For both pop and classical music, there should be a COMPOSER tag,
and if the player software wants to show that instead of ARTIST in the
playlist for certain genres, fine.

> You can't get around the fact, classical and pop music are just plain
> treated differently by people.

The point, though, is not that anyone is stupid enough to think that
Beethoven is a recording artist, but rather that classical listeners may
consider the composer's name more important than the performer's. In
which case, again, the player software can choose to display the
COMPOSER tag for genres where that may be appropriate. That's a much
better solution than putting something in the wrong field.

> > It would be silly for you to have to do that directly. The tag-editing
> > software would have to take care of XML formatting for you.
> Some of us like being able to do things easily from shell scripts.  You
> going to provide a shell-scriptish XML utility?

You're going to need some tool to retrieve and alter tags anyway.
Whether that program reads and writes XML or some other format is beside
the point.


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