MPD Clients and Content Sorting

Perhaps you, like me, use an MPD server to manage and play a largish music collection. Perhaps, you, like me, are finding the odd weird thing happening in your client where multiple albums appear for the same set of tracks, or tracks are split between two different, yet somehow identical albums.

Probably not though. However, this post exists to provide me with a reminder of the techniques used to resolve those issues.

Before we begin, my primary client for this library is MALP on Android – it’s actually very good, but gets grumpy if your MPD is old (FWIW mine is 0.22 – I went to the trouble of compiling by hand) and is very strict about some tags (which is a Good Thing, but can be fiddly)

Step One – Basic Tag Hygiene

Make sure the tracks for your album all have ID3v2 tags (remove all the v1 tags – don’t need ’em) and that the track numbers, total tracks, artist, albumartist and album tags are all correctly set. Any variations here can cause issues where a track magically belongs to a different album with the same name, or lives on two different albums somehow

Step Two – Check for MusicBrainz Tags

The MusicBrainz project and its tagger – Picard – are wonderful. However, music releases are squirrely and it can be hard to pin down exactly where your tracks fit in the listed releases.

In an ideal world, you can just add the appropriate release on MusicBrainz and Picard will simply tag all your tracks correctly – done and dusted.

imdoingmypart.gif etc etc

But not all tracks belong on MusicBrainz. And not all albums exactly match the releases. If you’re me1, you have music that just isn’t on MB at all and never will be.

The issue comes from when some tracks in an album have been tagged previously by Picard, but others have not – because Picard leaves behind super secret custom tags to help organise music. Which is great, except that MPD and MALP can read these custom tags and if not all the tracks in an album having matching ones, weirdness ensues.

So I downloaded this thing, which does a very specific job, but I used it solely to view “extended tags” and delete all the MB related stuff for albums with a mixed tagging history.

Step Three – Disc numbers?

If some of your album’s tracks have been tagged “disc 1/1” or similar and some have nothing in that tag – these tracks will still appear on one album, but the order may be all wrong. Just make your tags consistent – either all disc 1/1 or no data in those tags.

Empty tags for this can be intepreted as “disc 0”, causing those tracks to be erroneously listed prior to others.

That’s all I have so far, I’ll update with screenshot examples later.

  1. Statistically, at least from server logs, this is likely.

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