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ISO A Different Kind of Music Data Base

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  • ISO A Different Kind of Music Data Base

    To put this in perspective, I've avoided iTunes like the plague (that it sometimes is) so I'm hoping that the answer to what I'm looking for is simply "You can do all of that in iTunes." I tried asking on the Pro Audio Workshop fourm and got several totally irrelevant suggestions, some of which are probaby because the people making those suggestions didn't understand what I was looking for.

    Here's the situation:

    Music camps - not your usual rock'n'roll camp with high tech musicians with 3,000 songs on their iPhones, but fiddle and banjo players who want to learn a new technique or a couple of dozen new tunes to play at their local jams. They all carry portable recorders and usually record workshops and jam sessions that they attend at the camp. Some start the recorder when the session begins, put it on the floor, and leave it until the end of the session, others start and stop recording as they see fit. But after a weekend, many have 20 or more hours of essentially undocumented recordings, about maybe a couple of hours will actually be useful.

    I usually do a workshop on how to get the most out of your recorder, covering things like mic (recorder) placement, level setting, and conserving battery life, but many people have asked for a useful way to sort through the pile and make it easier to find things they're looking for over the next several months. Remember - these are grab-and-go captures, not files with names or things that can be identified by playing them into an on-line application. Most of them know about Audacity and can pick out and save individual tunes, but they may not know the title, or they may want to know if it's in a non-standard tuning, or who tunes that come from a specific fiddler or region.

    So, the idea is that when you go to the trouble of picking a tune out of the pile and saving it as a file, how can those files be indexed with useful characteristics? A data base that you can search, for example, for tunes that come from Tommy Jarrell are in the key of A, and you'll get a list of files to click on so you can hear them. Or, you can't remember the name of the tune, but you know that Bruce Molsky played it in a workshop about bluse songs on the banjo, you could search for that.

    I understand that human intervention is necessary. I don't expect a program to generate and enter all the fields in the data base, but I'm looking for a framework that someone who wants to do the work up front can have the search capability later on.

    I found a couple of programs that let you enter ID tags in MP3 files and then search the tags to find fles with the tags you want. They're along the right track, but some of the ID fields seem to have fixed choices, both as the name of the field and a pop-up list of selections that you can enter into that field. That doesn't leave enough fields to nail down a search. For example, instead of the "genre" being one of the couple of dozen on the list, I'd like it to have "tuning" and be able to enter notes or a common name. I haven't fullly researched ID tags to know what rules there are. I found a set of tools that let you build a MySQL data base of MP3 files which would be flexible enough, but I'm not a data base programmer and you have to know more than I want to learn in order to use the tools.

    Any insight? Can iTunes do all that?
    --
    "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
    Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

  • #2
    How about a roll your own? Virtual spreadsheets are great at allowing the creation of impromptu databases and usually have reasonable search capabilities.

    Something like Excel or Open Office Calc* on the desktop should allow one to set up a database of links to the audio file locally or online. (I haven't used Excel in years, but in Open Office calc, you just insert a hyperlink to the file's URL online or on your local machine** and it becomes a clickable link that, assuming the proper file associations in your OS settings, should load and play the file.)

    An added plus, you could create a template (I think it should work for both but you might have to create separate ones) with appropriate fields already set up and disseminate them to attendees.

    * You could probably use Google Sheets for a database of online tracks, but I don't think it can directly reference files on your local hard drive.

    ** To get the local URL, I usually rt-clk the file in Windows, go to the Properties dialog, click the Security tab and copy the 'object name' (if it's too long to see it should 'slide' as you highlight it)
    Last edited by blue2blue; 02-25-2015, 01:54 PM.
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    music and social links | recent listening

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    • #3
      I'm not smart enough to roll my own. I've never been successful in using a spreadsheet as a data base, even though it is one. Maybe something like a file card system would work, but I want it to link directly to the MP3 file so when you find one that meets your search criteria, you can just click and play.
      --
      "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
      Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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      • #4
        A spreadsheet-based database can be as simple as a table of columns (which we typically use to hold particular value fields) and rows (which we typically use to hold the fields for individual records),

        Below is a screen snap of a simple data table created in Open Office's Calc*...

        The File Location column contains hyperlinks inserted from the Insert menu. (You can paste the local or online URL in the column, but it doesn't automatically become a link. Use the OO Insert menu hyperlink option.) You can add more fields (columns) as needed.

        As long as your local computer's file associations are set up appropriately, clicking on the hyperlink should load the file into your default player.



        * Open Office is open source, free software, basically an office suite; it's been through some hard times, since it was part of Sun Computings Open Source offerings but when Oracle bought Sun to get MySQL and Java, things went a bit south; it's now maintained by Apache, the open source web server folks...
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        Last edited by blue2blue; 02-25-2015, 02:56 PM.
        .

        music and social links | recent listening

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        • #5
          The problem with spreadsheets is that when you have a dozen or so columns, each wide enough to contain some text, it gets cumbersome to work with. I used to be able to make up data bases using dBase 3 with the entry and search screen that looked like a file card with the fields spread around the screen, not all on the same single horizontal line. There might be a way to do that with Excel or an open source equivalent, but like I said, I'm not smart enough to do that.
          --
          "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
          Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

          Comment


          • #6
            Well, finally today on the Pro Audio list, someone said what I had hoped and feard, that "iTunes can do that." I guess I have to give it a try.
            --
            "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
            Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

            Comment













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