Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I really, really do understand the costs involved. I can recall a client asking for “one small change” to a database I had built for him, and we almost came to blows over the estimate of the cost to add that “one small change”: a complete redesign of the DB structure, among other things.
It took effort to cement a performance together (I still think of it as a composition) so that it doesn’t come apart during presentation, linking, and playback. For those purposes, that is the best approach. We agree on that.
I will take issue on your characterization of this as an edge case, though. I can mention seven or eight classical forms that beg to be separated during presentation. That group may constitute 40% of my tracks. (guesstimate, I admit). True multi-part compositions are the minority.
Also, I believe the vast majority of classical listeners do not sit through an entire composition, whatever the form. That was something their parents did. Today’s listeners don’t have that much contiguous time to take in an opera, all of Rach’s 24 Preludes, or a Mahler symphony. Their technology allows them to sample, skip around, get highlights, and easily bypass tracks that aren’t working for them at the moment, or move to another composer at a different time.
I happen to like some ancient rock bands, just not the same band for 24 songs in a row. It’s no different for classical listeners.
You spoke of mental models. When I think “shuffle”, my mental image is…Shuffle! The first thing playing is Rach’s Prelude #2, and then shuffle. Do I expect Rach’s 3 next? Rach’s anything next? Odds are, with 500 tracks or so, the next track would be…you know…different. Not trying to be difficult or argumentative, but my mental picture of shuffling is different than the one you are describing…
All I really want is to create a playlist a large quantity of short classical tracks – portions of compositions – and have them play back randomly. Is there any way to do that short of ungrouping a large portion of my library? Must I add each track individually to sever the grouping?
I thought a simple solution was, at playlist creation, to accept/reject the option to “keep composition grouping” for this particular playlist. But, I haven’t been under the hood, and I do get your aversion to add-ons.
Thanks again for your thoughts, and please share any solution paths.