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iTunes Tune-up 4: Catering to the Classical, part 2

Ralph Graves is one of Crutchfield's blog editors, and part of the company's social media team. He writes about home audio/video gear, specializing in Apple-related and wireless technologies. Ralph holds a master's degree in music composition, and his works have been released on various labels. He's served as product manager for an independent classical and world music label, produced several recordings, and worked extensively in public broadcasting. Since 1984 he's hosted a weekly classical music program on WTJU, and is also active as a blogger and podcaster.

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OK, I admit it. I'm a classical music fanatic (although not to the exclusion of other kinds of music). In addition to some basic organizing (see my last post), I also modify track information to suit my needs. Here's how:

Step 1: Sorting by style period. Sometimes I just want to hear an hour of renaissance music, or an evening of contemporary compositions. In iTunes, I've set up smart playlists for each of the major style periods: Medieval (up to 1300), Renaissance (1300 - 1600), Baroque (1600 - 1750), Classical (1750 - 1827), Romantic (1827 - 1910), and Modern (1910 - ).

Under the File menu, I select "New Smart Playlist." When the window opens, I choose "Comment" from the pull-down menus as the criteria, and enter name of the style period I want the smart playlist to match. At first, I generally won't see any tracks in the playlist, but populating it is easy. That's Step 2.

Step 2: Editing the comment field. For each classical work, I highlight the track and select "Get Info" from the File menu. This shows me the text and graphic info for the track. Click the Info tab to reveal the "Comments" field. I enter the style period and click "OK." If I have a smart playlist that sorts for that word, it will be instantly added to the list.

Step 3: Repeat Steps 1 and 2 (kind of):  If I'm in the mood for string quartets, I can't do a simple sort and find them. Not all such works have the word "String Quartet" in their title, nor do all groups that perform them have the words "String Quartet" in their name - the Kronos, for example. I just put as many terms as I want in the comment field, and create smart playlists that only look for one or more of them. If, for example, I had the following in the comment field:

German string quartet classical chamber

I can create all sorts of smart playlists. I could have a program of all German music, or just string quartets. The work could appear in a chamber music playlist along with piano trios and violin sonatas. It could be a smart playlist of classical style period composers, rubbing shoulders with works by Clementi, Sor and Paisiello. I could have a playlist of German string quartets, or classical period chamber music. basically, however I want to gather together my tracks, a keyword in the comment field gets the job done quickly.

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