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Author Topic: MusicBrainz Picard q & a thread  (Read 8528 times)

psychoadept

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Here's some info to get you started, for folks interested in using MusicBrainz Picard for tagging.  (MusicBrainz and MusicBee both abbreviate MB, but since this is the MusicBee forum if I use that here I mean MusicBee.)

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Official Picard updates are extremely few and far between (I've been using Picard since 2009, and it's on 2.0).

MusicBrainz Tagger Support forum (usually pretty responsive): Lands' Lands' End leisure Boutique leisure Boutique End Fleece Lands' Fleece leisure Boutique AW67nfw

Picard documentation: https://picard.musicbrainz.org/

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There's a list of handy Picard scripts at the end of this page: https://picard.musicbrainz.org/docs/scripting/

If you're going to do much scripting, this tag mapping chart can be helpful: https://picard.musicbrainz.org/docs/mappings/

An article that I wrote on using Picard scripts to tag MB's special tags: http://musicbee.wikia.com/wiki/Tagging_Multiple_Artists_with_Picard

To configure Picard as a "Send To" application, use "" as your parameters.  That will send all selected files to one instance, instead of opening a separate instance for each file.  Non-Latin characters sometimes cause problems when sending this way, in which case you can drag & drop.

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One thing that is super important in using Picard and MB together is the "preserve these tags from being cleared or overwritten with MusicBrainz data" field.  You can use this to protect any tag that you don't want changed, including replay gain tags and MB custom tags.  It's in Options > Options > Tags.

Picard will still fill in values for blank tags, even if the tag is "preserved".  To keep a tag from being written at all, you make a script that says $unset(tag).  (Scripts go in Options > Advanced > Scripting.)  For instance, I unset a bunch of miscellaneous info that Picard provides that I don't care about:

$unset(media)
$unset(barcode)
$unset(catalognumber)
$unset(script)
$unset(asin)

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Scripts are very helpful for customization, and there are lots of handy plugins, too.  It's unfortunate that some last.fm plugins have broken recently (last.fm's fault).  There is one that still seems to be working: https://github.com/fdemmer/Picard-Last.fm.ng-Plugin.  Some others I find useful:

Add Cluster As Release (if MusicBrainz doesn't have the album you're trying to tag, you can use this to quickly create it based on the info currently in the files - only works for whole albums)
Standardize Performers (really helpful if you're going to use the performer tags in any meaningful way)
View Script Variables (lets you see all variables Picard has available to write scripts with)

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My only major complaint with Picard is that it is really poor at artwork management. You can get artwork from several sources, some of which is really good, and in the latest version even rank sources, but it will overwrite embedded artwork even if there's nothing else found.  If you have artwork you can't easily find again with MB, be sure to move it to an external file before tagging with Picard so you can add it back later.

I find Picard most manageable with <1000 tracks at a time.  Don't expect to be able to do your whole library at once.  And keep in mind that the info in the MusicBrainz database varies in quality.  For instance, it can tag original year, but only if the original release is available.  Since MusicBrainz is structured around albums, it can be a little weird with handling individual tracks.  I've got it tuned to the point that IF the correct data is there, I usually get what I want on the first try, but I would never save something in Picard without at least glancing at it.  I spend quite a bit of time editing the database, too, because I figure if I have to spend time looking up info on a track or album, I may as well save it for myself and others to use later.  

ALWAYS test a new script/setting/plugin/etc on a backup or an easily repaired file!


p.s. Picard can also reorganize files, similar to MB's organize functions, but I always rely on MB for that so I can't tell you much about it.
Last Edit: August 01, 2018, 02:30:11 PM by psychoadept

psychoadept

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onkelbo has asked about how to tag the original release date of a track on a compilation.

The answer to this depends partly on whether you want to keep the rest of the tags as the compilation, or tag the whole thing with the original release info.  But you'll use the same kind of techniques, either way.  (This is going to seem worse than it is, probably.  Once you've set a lot of this up the first time, you won't have to do it again.)

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I'm going to treat this like you're working with a new installation of Picard (for the record, I wrote this with daily build #183), so we'll start with settings, which are found in Options > Options.

In Options > General, there are two tickboxes.  I suggest unticking "Automatically scan all new files" so that Picard doesn't start looking things up until you're ready.

There are two other settings screens that are going to be really important for this: Tags, and Metadata > Preferred Releases.

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On the Tags screen, of course you want to write tags.  I also suggest ticking "Clear Existing Tags".  You can still preserve tags already in the files, either individually or by using the "preserve these tags" box.  

Put EVERYTHING you don't want Picard to change in the "preserve these tags" box.  If you ONLY want the original date and not the other original release info, this will include album, albumartist, date, tracknumber, etc.  In order to figure out what name to use, either look at the "Internal Name" column of the tag mapping chart I linked above, or you can look it up by opening Picard's tag edit screen (right click on the tag in the bottom pane).  Capitalization matters!



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To preserve a tag manually, you can right click on it in the bottom pane of Picard and select "Use Original Value" or "Remove".  See my first post for how to keep a tag from being written at all.

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The Preferred Releases screen is helpful for steering Picard towards the type of release that you want it to look up.  It's not perfect, but it helps.  Right is higher, left is lower.  You're probably going to want to maximize album or single and set compilation at minimum.  Sometimes the original release was actually a soundtrack or live album, but in those cases you'll probably want to do a little research to be sure.

If you're tagging the whole release rather than just original year, you can try adding some values to release country and release format to help you out.  Neither of those will matter for just the original date, because Picard always takes the earliest date in the release group for that.  If you're tagging the whole release, though, they will matter - otherwise Picard is as likely to give you the 2009 remaster as the original Beatles album, etc. (I use a script that forces the date to the original year regardless of the specific release, although that can get a little tricky, too, because re-releases may have bonus tracks that have later dates.)

Also if you're tagging the whole release, it will be helpful to know where to find the list of alternate releases in Picard.  You can right click on any release that has loaded in the right hand pane and select "Other Versions" to see the full list.



I'm going to give some specific examples, but I'll put them in another post.
Last Edit: September 29, 2015, 07:42:54 PM by psychoadept

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psychoadept

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Here's a super easy example:

The track is Wild Horses by The Sundays.  I currently have it on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Album", a compilation from 1999.

The easiest ways to get tracks into Picard from MB are either drag & drop or to configure Picard as an external tool (see first post in this thread).

Unless you've tagged it with Picard previously, the file should appear in the left hand pane:  



You should see two buttons in the Picard toolbar labeled "Scan" and "Lookup".  Scan looks things up based on the audio fingerprint of the file, Lookup looks them up based on tags.  For this purpose, Lookup will usually serve you better.

I clicked Lookup, and based on my preference for albums over compilations, Picard correctly loads the album Blind by The Sundays, from 1992.



I did this one with the original album info protected.  This is the list of tags I put in "preserve these tags":

album, albumsort, title, titlesort, artist, artistsort, albumartist, albumartistsort, tracknumber, totaltracks, discnumber, totaldiscs, date, label, compilation

This is what I have in scripts (if you have info in them, you could protect them instead):

$unset(media)
$unset(barcode)
$unset(catalognumber)
$unset(script)
$unset(asin)

In the bottom panel, you should see the old info and the new info for the file.  As you can see, most of the info hasn't changed:



Looking further down, though, you can see that it has picked up the original date/year from the album, as well as some other info:



Okay, so maybe we need to protect or unset Release Country, Release Type, and Release Status, too.  But you get the idea.  And picking up the personnel from the album might be desirable!  (You will also see a lot of "MusicBrainz" tags which you will have to decide how to handle.  I suggest keeping them in case you need to look something up again, but if your compilation tagging was also with MusicBrainz you might want to keep the original value instead.)

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This will get a little tougher if Picard doesn't find the right source album right away, or if you're not sure if it's the right source.  If Picard had not found it (it is occasionally WAY off the mark, sometimes because the data was entered incorrectly, or because some combination of settings goes haywire), I would use the "Lookup in Browser" command to try to track down the source myself.   This works best if the track is in the left panel.  If it was associated with an incorrect album on the right, you can drag it back to the left.

Doing a browser lookup on this track gets me here: http://www.musicbrainz.org/taglookup?tport=8000&artist=The%20Sundays&track=Wild%20Horses&tracknum=14&duration=286119&release=Buffy%20the%20Vampire%20Slayer:%20The%20Album&filename=12%20Wild%20Horses.mp3

If you look in the right hand column, you will see that the track was used on some compilations, but there is also the original album and a couple of singles.  If you know which one you want, usually clicking that green "tagger" icon will load the release in Picard.  If it doesn't, you can also paste the URL for the release in Picard's search bar.

You'll also find the search parameters at the bottom of the page, and you can change them (for instance, removing the album title from the search).

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Of course, if you get one of those tracks that is on a million compilations, it's going to be more difficult to track down.  That's usually when you have to start doing some real research.  Here's a more challenging one:

I have a recording of Caravan by Duke Ellington from a compilation called Big Band Fever.  Doing "Lookup" just gets me another compilation, from 1993.  Doing "Lookup in Browser" doesn't have great results, either, until I remove the album title from the search.  Then I see a single (I usually look for singles of anything pre-1950ish):

http://www.musicbrainz.org/taglookup?tag-lookup.artist=Duke+Ellington+%26+His+Orchestra&tag-lookup.release=&tag-lookup.tracknum=1&tag-lookup.track=Caravan&tag-lookup.duration=169874&tag-lookup.filename=1-01+-+Duke+Ellington+%26+His+Orchestra+-+Caravan.mp3

It's from 1937, but it doesn't have a length for the recording that I can compare to mine.  Now I have to decide if I care whether it's the same recording, or whether I want to do the research to identify different recordings.  You'll have to answer those questions for yourself.  

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There is always the possibility that the original source of the track isn't in the database.  For most mainstream music since ~1970, that doesn't seem to be much of a problem.  The earlier the release, the more likely you're not going to find it.   I hope you'll think about adding it to the database, if you end up looking something up that's not in MusicBrainz.  There are some really handy import scripts for discogs and iTunes (web version).

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Questions/suggestions?  Specific cases I can help with?
Last Edit: September 29, 2015, 07:45:58 PM by psychoadept

psychoadept

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P.S. I found a new plugin yesterday called Keep Tags which might make it easier to target a specific tag that you want, but I haven't played around with it enough to say for sure.
Last Edit: September 29, 2015, 01:52:07 PM by psychoadept

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This is great, thank you for all this effort and information psychoadept!
This motivates me to soon invest some serious time in rediscovering MusicBrainz/Picard.
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psychoadept

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My pleasure!  If I can short cut Picard's learning curve for anybody, I'm happy to do so.

5moufl

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How did you set MB and Picard so that MusicBrainz IDs can be read and not rewritten by MusicBee (the ALL CAPS issue with id3v2.4 tags)

psychoadept

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How did you set MB and Picard so that MusicBrainz IDs can be read and not rewritten by MusicBee (the ALL CAPS issue with id3v2.4 tags)
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I don't have musicbrainz ids configured in MusicBee so I haven't encountered that issue, sorry

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sadsack5000

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This is an excellent thread psychoadept, i've already been using picard but there is much i dont know about it.
I've recently migrated from mediamonkey to MB and already i can tell it will serve me well. Still need to play around with tagging in MB though, havent touched that feature yet.

I have already processed all of my albums with picard and used the lastfm.ng plugin to tag my genres. Unfortunately my earliest release dates which i tagged with mediamonkey got overwritten so i'll have to use your guide to sort them out.

I still have to tag my random, non-album mp3's  so thought id check in with you to see whats my best bet with tagging

Can you tell me:
1) How do you manage your non-album, miscellaneuos mp3's? I currently have mine sorted by decade and have put them into albums "I Love the XX's" e.g. 60's, 70's etc. When i run them through picard i'll probably stick to this system and "preserve" the existing album tags
2) Can MB tag musicbrainz id's? or is that only picard
3) How to you manage your genres? I had a white list for acceptable genres that i put together for mediamonkeys genrefinder to scrape lastfm but it appears picard is limited with genre finder plugins. lastfm.ng does grab genres but i can see it will be a headache changing the stock genre list.
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psychoadept

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1) How do you manage your non-album, miscellaneuos mp3's? I currently have mine sorted by decade and have put them into albums "I Love the XX's" e.g. 60's, 70's etc. When i run them through picard i'll probably stick to this system and "preserve" the existing album tags
2) Can MB tag musicbrainz id's? or is that only picard
3) How to you manage your genres? I had a white list for acceptable genres that i put together for mediamonkeys genrefinder to scrape lastfm but it appears picard is limited with genre finder plugins. lastfm.ng does grab genres but i can see it will be a headache changing the stock genre list.

1) Personally, I tag everything I can to an album, even if there's just a single track, except like I said I tend to go with singles from the days when they were more common than albums.
2) Just Picard, although MusicBee can sometimes make use of them
3) Still figuring this out myself!  I can tell you that MusicBee can get genres from last.fm and discogs (with the discogs plugin), and gives you the ability to place genres in genre categories.  That can all be customized from tags (2) preferences.

You might be interested in the wiki page on Auto-Tagging: http://musicbee.wikia.com/wiki/Auto-Tagging

sadsack5000

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thanks for the quick response psychoadept
So i had a toy around with picard and set my preferred releases to maximum on single and zero on everything else. The results were pretty good actually and maybe 75% of my 80's-90's-00's random songs got a hit. They are mostly popular songs by each artist so i would expect most to have been released as a single. Unfortunately only around 5% of all the songs get the single cover art - is this what you are finding also?
While we're on the subject of singles do you have any sort of different naming convention for singles or just go with straight up "album"?

Cheers

psychoadept

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If you're boot getting artwork, it's because it's not in the database.  But you can easily find and add it to musicbrainz yourself.  Just be sure you get the right artwork for a particular edition.  It sucks getting voted down because you got the wrong version.

sadsack5000

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Hmmm thats a shame. Unfortunately i dont have the time to manually source each single cover (i have possibly 3000 random songs). Can musicbee help out with finding a missing cover? I find that picard often selects the single from a region without the cover art owing to the track duration being closest fit. Again its painful to manually intervene and force picard to select the single with cover art (unless theres a preference option i dont know about)

psychoadept

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MusicBee has some pretty powerful artwork search features, but might not be as effective for singles.

What version of Picard are you on?  Try the latest "daily" build from here: https://build.oxygene.sk/job/package-picard-win-daily/

It has much improved artwork settings over the official version, including the ability to take the release group image when there is none for the release, which should cut down on hunting for the release that has artwork.
Last Edit: January 11, 2017, 03:20:20 PM by psychoadept

sadsack5000

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ahhhhh that does help! i was using the latest official release 1.3.2 and just upgraded to 1.4 dev5
The option in cover art for CAA release significantly improves single cover findings!

Thanks for the tip!


 
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