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I really do love the way you can tag pictures in Windows Live Photo Gallery. I find it incredibly useful to be able to tag the same picture with the tag "Cancun" and have it been automatically included when I look for the tag "Beach", "Trips" and "Fun Pic", since its a child tag of the former and also has a tag for the later. I also like that I can look for rating in the pics.

On the other side, tagging MP3 has always been a pain in the ass, because I just find it to hard to classify music! Is it pop? techno? techno-pop? rock? indie-rock? indie-post-classic-pop-techno?

I hate how ID3 just have one tag for genre, so I've tried tricks like putting all the genres I think it fits into, and then having lists in Winamp (which I dont use anymore) that filter out words in the ID3 tags (ie, Tag: Genre, Contains: Rock = rock list).

But then, what about moods? I want to be able to tag my songs in genres and in moods, you know, happy, concentrate/work, party, romantic (wink wink), etc.

Is there any way to do this, preferably in a way in which tags could carry on to other music players?


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I don't think there is an answer, but I sure would like one. Not really related, but I use to set my ID3 tags including the Genre. – Zoredache Mar 22 '10 at 3:12
up vote 2 down vote accepted

There's no standard way to tag MP3's, but if you're willing to put in the effort, you can use Tag & Rename to update songs with tags in the comments section and then you can search for mp3's with comments that contain the tags, depending on what player you use. This could be an ideal compromise if you use a single music player (iTunes, Winamp), but may not be as ideal if you use more than one media player (i use Winamp, Android, Shoutcast, iPod, Boxee and others)

Maybe tags will be something supported officially in ID3 tags in the next version. I know I would sure love it

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I really do to, it sucks that one the most popular document standards is still missing this! – bangoker Mar 23 '10 at 2:00

I do free-form tagging a la Picasa or Flickr on my MP3s using a few fields. For mood specifically, ID3 does support a mood field. This field needs to be supported by your media player though. MediaMonkey supports this field. MediaMonkey also supports the "occasion" field. For other free-form, unstructured tags, the "grouping" and "comments" fields work well. Neither field is used much for anything else. So you can put whatever tags you'd like into those fields.

Once you've gone to the trouble of tagging your tracks it's nice to be able to actually do something with them. MediaMonkey can build auto playlists for you based on your tags. So you can get mood="happy", occasion="party" tracks that you've tagged with "summer" or something like that. Good luck!

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ID3v2.4 supports multiple genre (TCON) tags. Unfortunately, this is extremely poorly supported in most media players and library applications. I believe ID3v2.3 also had a mechanism for multiple genres, but it was complicated and rarely implemented properly.

Here's the v2.4.0 TCON spec. As you can see, genres can be free-form strings as well as numerical codes, and multiple genres are handled by separating the values with NULL ($00).

The 'Content type', which ID3v1 was stored as a one byte numeric
value only, is now a string. You may use one or several of the ID3v1
types as numerical strings, or, since the category list would be
impossible to maintain with accurate and up to date categories,
define your own. Example: "21" $00 "Eurodisco" $00

You may also use any of the following keywords:

  • RX Remix
  • CR Cover

ID3v2.4 also provides a "user defined" tag, TXXX. You could certainly use this to create your own tags, but you'd have to craft plugins or patches to get media player support. I expect the simplest way would be to craft a TXXX called "tags" that contained NULL-separated, free-form strings (like TCON).

The Mutagen tagging library implements these tags properly, as does Ex Falso, a tagger from the QuodLibet project. QuodLibet should be able to do complex searches based on multiple genres or user defined tags.

Picard, the MusicBrainz tagger, may also use Mutagen, but I can't verify that from personal experience. Ampache is the only library application I've found that imports multiple genre tags correctly; the UI isn't perfect, but it was fairly active last time I looked at the project.

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