Dealing with multi disc albums
Two key limitations of tagging digital music are exposed here. The first is the inconsistency of album title tagging. Typically, the album name is decorated with text such as "Disc one", "Disc 1", "Disc A" (more abstract that one) of "Disc I" (the Romans are coming!). Let's call it the 'disc label'. There are more variations on this theme, and the common effect is that if you have any number of multi disc albums you will have a mish-mash of album name and disc label formats, sometimes even within the same album. For instance:
- All Things Must Pass (Disk 1)
- All Things Must Pass (Disk 2)
- Shine 7 Disc one
- Shine 7 Disc 2
Of course, you may also be of the mind that you don't want the disc label in the album title at all. Purists may say the album title should be just that.
If the visual inconsistency wasn't bad enough, a second limitation is that it also makes working with your music more difficult. Searching and sorting collections becomes harder.
Part of the answer is labeling consistency. If I want the disc label to appear in the album title then I should be able to choose the format of the full album title. This would then apply to all multi disc albums, rather than having to work through all my music and apply the rule to each album. I'd be able to set the format along any of the following lines:
- Number format - numeric digits, numeric text, roman numerals etc
- Disc label - CD, disc
- Use of wrapping parentheses
- Position in the label - prefix or suffix
- Turn off disc number labeling altogether
The second issue is best addressed by specific tags that tell your music player how to treat the different discs. For instance, they say explicitly that a given disc is part of a set of discs. These tags already exist and are in wide use:
- TPOS - used in ID3v2 (and, thus, in MP3s)
- DISC and DISCNUMBER - used in Vorbis comments
- Other non standard player specific approaches also exist.
By formatting disc number labeling in a consistent way and applying specific disc number tags to my music collection I get both a visually elegant and more useful music library.