The Hassle of Editing Classical Albums via Roon

Please note that most of the hassle is not the fault of Roon but is a carry over from net databases set up for popular fare. FWIW, here is the laborious editing process done here:

  1. Album Names
    The only sensible approach to classical albums is to make them composer focussed by prefacing each album with the composer surname. The great advantage to that is that “Sorted by Album Title” automatically gets all the Bach, Beethoven etc albums together.
    But there are complications with e.g. Bach, as there is CPE and others besides JS. My approach is to reserved “Bach” for JS albums and to use “CPE Bach” etc for others. Similarly “V.Williams” is necessary to distinguish Vaughan from the other Williams.
    Another complication can arise with some albums featuring the title in French while others are in English – many Berlioz works have this problem so editing to English can help. A further complexity is added with albums with works of more than one composer. When only two are involved it is tempting to use the first one in the header but I generally use “A – Various” followed by the album title. Finding works in these albums is done fairly successfully with the Roon search engine.

  2. Artist
    The frustrating aspect of classical fare is that composers like Bach, Handel etc often feature in the artist slot by net databases which Roon accesses. In editing the artist(s) I always list the conductor first with orchestral works but feature the soloist before the conductor with concertos. Similarly, famous soloists like Janet Baker are listed ahead of the conductor but, if the singer is not well known I assume the album is more easily detected from the conductor so he/she receives prominence.

  3. The Album Cover
    With single albums, works are quickly identified on Roon by the cover design but this falls down with sets. It is a job still in progress, but I break up all set albums and create specific covers for each to make them easily found from the icons. Using MS Publisher I insert text at 26 to 30 point size so it can be read from the cover icon. With some albums there are so many different works involved listing anything on the cover is pointless so in that case the inserted text merely says “CD 1” etc. With others , one or two major works are listed on the cover. I guess this could be listed in the album name but I choose to list the works there. With the header of the album name the composer, there is limited visibility of the remaining album data in the icon so putting it onto the cover overcomes that.
    One common annoyance is the low resolution of the cover so at least half in this library have to be edited and replaced with suitable fare on the net. This is particularly useful where an album cover of e.g. an opera, might list all artists involved. Higher resolution is needed to decipher these.

  4. Identifying Albums with Roon
    The major advantage with this is twofold. First it takes advantage of the interlinking of data with Roon and usually gives an album description which you might or might not agree with. [It would be nice if Roon allowed, as Sooloos did, for us to add it our own data].
    Secondly it tidies up any jumbled track display.
    BUT, and it is a big BUT, achieving identification can be a PIA or even virtually impossible using the Roon arrows to shift tracks up/down in larger sets, particularly with baroque works with 20 or more tracks on any one album. And Roon can be frustrating in that one would hope that when one album in a set has been correctly identified, the software would be clever enough to recognise that so remaining albums would be easier to fix. At this stage that is not the case so very often I give up and leave the album unidentified, thereby missing out on the clever interlinking referred to earlier.

  5. Merging Albums
    This can be a trap that I fell into in my early Roon days. There is considerable and obvious benefit for the albums in an opera or a live performance to be linked, but absolutely no point in merging others. As said above, I do the opposite and break up most sets.

  6. Tags
    I find the Roon tags confusing and unhelpful so have opted to compose my own. E.g. a concerto could have the following tags “Orchestral”, “Concerto”, “Violin Concerto”; a Haydn piano work “Chamber”, “Instrumental – piano”, “Baroque and Early” etc etc. Roon then allows me to play from a selected tag.

  7. Backups
    I’ve tried to do Roon back ups direct onto USB sticks but have not found one yet that works satisfactorily. I do have it set up to perform regularly at 2am an internal HDD but also often do a manual BU to another folder after finishing some editing. I then copy that file onto a USB stick.
    It is also vital to have a backup of all music files as I found recently when, for some, still unknown reason, they all got deleted. Restoration was successful thanks to music file copies on an external HDD and using the Roon BU to reconfigure earlier editing.
    Editing on Roon only alters the HDD data if a duplicate album is deleted so if one is concerned to have those duplicates deleted on the backup HDDs, then they need to be located to be deleted, or sections in the backup HDD replaced.

The whole editing process can be an absorbing hobby in itself, and done carefully permits quick access to a work or a particular album. And it allows quick comparison of artistry from different performers for the same work so a favourite can be selected.
Bottom line for me is that Roon, despite a few drawbacks, is a far nicer, more reliable and simpler system to use than the Sooloos it replaced.

disagree here (with almost everyone out there too :wink: )
“Artist” is, to me, the composer: full stop!
Conductor, Orchestra and soloists go in the “Album Artist” tag (think about it: a given composition will always be by the very same artist but performers will vary fron an album to another :wink: )

(my) issue with Roon is… I then have to manually edit Roon’s “Primary Artists” otherwise the composer too is listed as… a performer :laughing:
and… no: Roon’s database usually (never seen it happen so far) does not list Composer among Artists

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Nope - I disagree too, although I know that Musicbrainz insists on putting the composer in the Artist tag. To my way of thinking, the composer belongs solely in the Composer tag; unless the composer is actually a performer of the track, in which case he/she is also put in the Artist tag.

This doesn’t work when you have an album of “Various Artists”; i.e. a compilation of works performed by a variety of performers…

Having said all that, these days I’m content to let Roon have first shot at identifying new albums. I’ll only dive in with manual edits if it gets it wrong.

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+1 :slight_smile:

I only still check/fix tags nonetheless 'cause, even if I don’t touch it anymore, still have Audirvana+ installed on my Mac mini :roll_eyes:
(btw… Audirvana’s tagging quirks annoy me much more than Roon’s)

Objection :wink::

If there’s a better way to do it or get it done I wouldn’t resort to work arounds. Since the composer information is available as a dedicated metadata value why would I add it to the album title and this way duplicating data and messing up the original album title? The album title should be as it’s on the cover (physical or digital media). If a “sort by composer” feature is missing in a Roon view where there should be one then it should get added to that view.

Now I know there’s no “Sort by Composer” option in Album View. Also, there’s no “Classical only” switch there. The latter can be circumvented by for example focussing on “Classical” as a genre if all classical music is genre tagged as “Classical” or one of its sub-genres. Before I go into details here (*) two more comments:

Comment No. 1:

While a scheme to identify the role of an artist from its position in the album artist field is OKish it will never really work - as you point out. Actually the identification of a conductor should always work using the metadata value for conductor, same for orchestras (ensembles).

I’d list the primary artists as on the front cover of the album but it would be necessary to actually have data for conductor and ensemble and preferably also in the personnel tags.

Comment No. 2:

Genre tags (not “Tag” tags) are somewhat unsatisfactory for classical albums. Unluckily Roon

  1. has made it quite clear recently it will not support genre tags on a track level. For properly genre tagged tracks as part of a work this would have allowed for assigning genres on a work level.
  2. does not support genre tagging works - yet?
    So on the one hand Roon puts albums in the centre of its presentation model but on the other hand it cannot properly deal with genres for classical music albums (and probably some other genres). It’s unsatisfactory.
  3. offers no way to import values into its “Tag” tags - like a mapping from “Grouping” tags or “Mood” or some other (custom) file tag.

But for some stuff you mention there’s a way to have this information stored in dedicated Roon metadata fields like instrumentation and form.

(*) Back to what an Album View for classical music should probably be able to show - some of it maybe being of value for other genres too. I’ve already mentioned “sort by composer” might be nice. But there’s a problem here Roon already struggles with for artists(**): how to sort albums with works by different composers. “Various” is a simple approach but it contradicts the purpose of Roon to find (discover) all what’s there. Actually, it would be better to show albums multiple times - for example if I’ve got an album with works by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff that album would be listed under “R” and “T” if the sorting is done alphabetically by composer. This would mean the number of albums (in the top of the view) would be different to the number of albums shown in the view. Would this now confuse users? I don’t know. Probably I’m confusing the readers here already. :sunglasses:

Roon may say for the above there’s already a Composition View. But browsing this view - to quote the homepage - feels “Meh.” to me.

So something like an Other Album View with the ability to show the and sort by Composer, Conductor, Ensemble and Primary Artist would be nice. And I could focus on instrumentation, form and maybe period in this Other Album View. How to achieve this I don’t know - it would require UI work. But then Roon teases us with an update to the UI now and then and something like this is already in the works…


Update: Another point for this Other Album View for classical is that – if the album isn’t a compilation – the artistic intent often present in the works composing an album remains intact and I can discover that too even if I browse sorted by composer or ensemble or focused on a certain form. That’s lost in the Composition View somehow or only available after a lot of click work.


(**) To explain: if an album has two primary artist entries sorting will only respect the first primary artist. So if one jumps to the letter the second primary artist (sort) name starts with it will not be shown there. Not perfect, I’d say.

Would LOVE to have Genre’s applicable to Works. That helps when you have a symphony and a chamber piece in the same album. Would be a big help,especially to those who go beyond the 4-5 general classical subgenres.

I have Composer assigned to each work, ie not album driven. That works pretty well when you look at Composer view (Classical albums/works only).

there is already information about style/form, instrumentation and period available on composition level. what do you need genre for?

admittetly, it is not mapped to file tags, but who knows…

I would very much like a drop down menu from within a composer view with the compositions. Case: new album, first time a particular work in your database, album not recognized. I want then to pick the correct composition. To get composer/composition right, is for me the first step.

Pre Roon, I got granular on Classical genres, eg. 20thC Chamber, Romantic Chamber, Classical Chamber and so on. Now I create random play for compositions from selecting sub genres, and sometimes I don’t want 20C Orch to play w Solo Piano Baroque… I don’t think I am a rare case in how I had managed my Classical genres.

If Roon recognizes all my Classical, and it doesn’t for some 500 compositions, then selecting random play by period, style/form, etc might work, except if it is not mapped to file tags, I think.

Interesting responses which highlight the subjective nature of both music appreciation and our personal preferences for organising our libraries to listen to it. Obviously there is no “right” or “wrong” in all this. The bottom line importance is to set up Roon to best suit our personal tastes, and the fact it allows flexibility in approach is a big plus.

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I‘m just advocating to use more granular information which is already there. I suspect people just discuss genres so much for classical music, because they got used to players that would only display the genre tag…

I think Roon should think much further than that. I agree that you need something on work level instead on album level that helps filtering according to period, style and instrumentation - I‘m just saying it shouldn‘t be the genre😉

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