(a blog)
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
  Cool Tools - MusicBrainz Tagger

MusicBrainz Tagger is an MP3 and Ogg Vorbis tagger: it fixes up the metadata stored in your music files to include the correct artist, album, track, and so forth. Well, there are plenty of taggers available already, right? Not quite like this one. While most taggers provide an interface for entering the metadata by hand, MusicBrainz Tagger analyzes the acoustic data in the song file to generate an acoustic fingerprint. It then connects to the MusicBrainz database, and in exchange for the fingerprint, it'll get back all the important information about the track. So basically: it listens to and labels your MP3s for you. Now that's pretty damn cool by itself, but the most fun part of the program, in my measure, is when the program isn't quite confident about the song it's trying to identify. You can set a confidence threshold above which Tagger will automatically file the tracks in the "Identified" grouping, but if it's below that threshold, it'll enlist your help. You get a list of tracks to choose from that are the possible matches, as well as a confidence percentage for each. And this data reveals some pretty interesting things. For example, Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough" is 23% similar to Aretha Franklin's "You're All I Need to Get By." Nickel Creek's "Banjo Favorites" is 31% similar to Less Than Jake's "Glumble." (I've always thought Less Than Jake could use some more banjos.) The live version of "Have a Cigar" performed by Pink Floyd and Eric Clapton is 28% similar to Massive Attack's "Mezzanine." And it's pretty good at telling you how close the bands get it when they do covers. Phish's cover of "Blister in the Sun" by the Violent Femmes is 47% similar to the original. Their cover of Pink Floyd's "Money", however, missed the mark, weighing in at 24% similar to Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited." Pink Floyd's version isn't listed as a possible match. Ouch. The database is pretty huge - containing 3,020,687 tracks as of my last count - so it'll identify even some of your most obscure holdings. But, as with any data set of that size, there are inaccuracies. I was surprised to find out that country music singer Travis Tritt recorded a cover of Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice". I was excited to see that he was branching out - but, alas, Google tells me that it was actually performed by the Texan cover band The Gourds. Pretty cool stuff. Available in Windows and (independently developed) Mac OS X flavors.

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