Firstly, sorry if my english is not that good; i should have seen this topic before, because (be warned) i am passionated about musical genres distinction and classification.
It's obvious for me that genre tagging is a real personnal thing, mainly because not everyone can distinct one kind of music from another.
For some people "The Offspring" is "Hard Rock", "Rock" equal "Metal" equal "Punk", "Gipsy Music" is like "Musette" because accordion, or "Electronic" music is all "Techno".
So the needs will be different according to the people.
My tagging way has evolved since many many years, and currently i'm doing it in parallel with something else: i'm working on a big musical genre classification in the form of HTML pages right now, but that I would like to evolve into something more complex (web application).
So that i'm learning music history and evolution, and how to differentiate one genre from another.
Kinda autistic i know, but i love it, i spend a lot of my free time on that.
So from some time i decided to retag all my collection, with other rules in mind.
Then, when i encounter something i can't define the genre precisely enough, i go on the internet and seek for informations.
I'm not doing a musicologist work, but i want to know why do we call this "Electro Pop" and this "Synthpop", why do we call this "Pagan Metal" and this "Viking Metal" ?
So beside musical characteristics, i learn much more from this.
But at first my goal is to catalog and put label on things; not for the sake of labeling though, but because i think this is a great way to open my mind to a lot of other musical horizons; since all music is made from influences imho.
So as the time goes by, my personnal informations pages are getting bigger, more precise and clearer, so i can rely on them to define type of songs and differentiate one genre from one another.
To sum it up, i'm collecting informations on internet about genres, i'm trying to understand it by reading about it and listening about it
, collect the most representative samples of those genres and write all things down on my HTML pages in the most clear and understandable way for me (or anyone to tell the truth).
I'd love to put all those things online one day, but it will need a big lot more of work before doing so.
So i'm tagging (again) all my music from 0 and it takes me a lot of time, but as i list more and more tags, the process is faster and faster, because i can compare easily one already tagged song with another non-tagged one.Here is how i organize my library.
Currently i'm doing it all alphabetically, i stopped at Amon Tobin, at a song which is some mix between several stuff like "IDM", "Glitch" and "Dubstep" vibes.
I know somewhat what "Dubstep" is and how it sounds, but i have almost no informations about it and about its sub-genres on my pages, so i'm currently reading stuff about it and thus about "Chillstep", "Brostep" and so on.
So i could eventually tag this song with some "Dubstep" genre or sub-genre, if i think it matches.
Of course, i always look if i can get some informations on the genre of the song on the internet before, but most of the time internet offers genre tags for the artist or the album, and rarely (or badly) track by track.
I'm speaking french, so all my work and all my tags are french-friendly.
I use 2 genres max for each song. I was using an unlimited number of genre before, but it was driving me crazy and it was too much tiring and time consuming.
Sometimes i use a third one for "Ballade" (it's a word for a "mellow song", i'm using it when the song is mostly a voice with a simple instrument accompaniment, with no special characteristics), or for "Power Ballad".
I use a "category" field to define the big musical categories.
This allows me sometime to define more precisely a song without messing with genres.
For example, let's take the song "I have a dream
" from ABBA, this is "Adult Contemporary" for me, with folk vibes because it uses a sitar.
But however i won't categorize it with a specific folk genre from a deep unknown part of the world, because those are only minor influences imo.
So, for me, its genres are "Ballade, Adult Contemporary", and its categories are "Folk, Pop, Song".
I also have a field to define when a notable instrument is used in the song, mostly when it takes a lot of place, or is put forward, or when it is unusual for the actual genre.
I write my genres in importance order.
So a song with genres wrote "Ambient Pop; Downtempo" has more Ambient Pop elements than Downtempo, and is more Downtempo than anything else.
This allows me to be a little more distinctive.
Sometimes there are avant-garde
artists who multiply genres fusion in their music, for example "Nervous Waltz
" from Igorrr: Baroque Music, Death and Black Metal, Breakcore, ... all in one song. But in those cases, i don't mind, i stuck to my limit of 2 genres and take the most prominent ones, from my subjective point of view.
Actually i use "categories > genres > sub-genres" as a hierarchy.
The "genres > sub-genres" relation is the "group genre" option in Musicbee.
I use it like a direct
parenting relation where the sub-genre is the direct
child of the genre.
So for example, Acid Jazz is sub-genre of Jazz, which is also a category.
"Aggrotech" is sub-genre of "Dark Electro", which is not a category but is also the child of "Electro Industrial".
Sometimes i defined a genre as a child of 2 parents, like "Electro Industrial" music, which is the sub-genre of "Electronic" and "Post Industrial".
In this case, and because of the way Musicbee works, i have to chose only one parent between the two, totally subjectively (like the rest of my tagging anyway).
Beside that, i'm using the "mood" field to classify musics in 24 "styles" which are roughly "feelings", "atmosphere", "personnality" and "energy".
Also totally subjective, and sometimes useless to define as a song can vary a lot, like being peaceful at the begging and finishing on a brutal note.
But i'm using it mainly to generate playlists for working and waking up.
Finally, i use special tags to define if the song is a cover, a remix, a remastering, a performance (for example for classical music) or a parody.
Tagging the original artist, album and year of the song.
I also use a field to specify "media context", like if the song was created for or mostly known from a video game, an anime, a movie, etc.
The last ones are used to define if the song is a live record, have a raw quality, if it's NSFW (like sexual samples or whatever), and if the language is explicit (i use it only for french lyrics).
I won't speak about how i manage artists, pictures of artists, album years, sorting, ... as it's not the topic.
But here is an example of my two tags tabs: