Goodwin's High End


● Folders for your Music Files on your Music Server

File Folder Organization

Before you start transferring your music it is important to think about how you will organize your recordings on your music server/computer. Of course you could put everything into one folder entitled "Music". And depending upon how you will be working with your files and which music server software/hardware you are using you might be best served by sticking with this approach. Alternatively you could have a "Music" folder and inside that you could have folders named:

  • Classical
  • Jazz
  • Rock
  • Folk

Your collection might have many more categories than just those four of course!

For instance you might wish to break Jazz into two categories:

  • Jazz
  • Jazz Vocal

Or you might wish to further subcategorize Jazz into something like this:

  • Dixieland
  • Swing
  • Bop
  • Modal
  • Cool
  • Free
  • Smooth
  • Fusion
  • Latin

Obviously your music collection—how large it is and what it is comprised of—and how you like to organize your music will determine how far you may wish to go in terms of categorization. If you are unsure of how to categorize a recording you could always use The All Music Guide which is an extensive database of just about every musician, recording, and song ever made.

However you arrange your categories, in each of those main folders should be "Artist" folders for each artist in that category.

So for a Rock collection you might have various groups such as:

  • The Beatles
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Led Zeppelin
  • U2

Note that in the above example the listing is alphabetized such that the "The" is ignored for The Beatles.

Another way of listing the Beatles is:

  • Beatles, The

For a Classical music folder there could also be subfolders for composers such as:

  • Bach
  • Beethoven
  • Mozart
  • Schubert

In those composer folders could be subfolders for conductor. For example:

  • Abbado
  • Bernstein
  • Karajan

Or there could be subfolders for soloist. For example:

  • Horowitz
  • Pollini
  • Rubinstein

Or soloist/conductor:

  • Pollini; Abbado
  • Rubinstein; Ormandy
  • Stern; Bernstein

Or soloist/conductor if using a comma instead of a semi-colon between soloist and conductor:

  • Pollini, Abbado
  • Rubinstein, Ormandy
  • Stern, Bernstein

The other thing to consider is how to list genre subcategories. If you put "Classical" as the first word of each classical subcategory, all of the classical works will be together alphabetically in your "Genre" listing. For example to keep all of your classical music together under the "Genre" listing of your music server software you could do the following:

  • Classical Opera
  • Classical Piano - (this category could be only for solo piano or two-piano works)
  • Classical Piano Concerto - (this category would be for piano with orchestra)
  • Classical Piano Trio - (piano, violin, viola)
  • Classical String Quartet - (2 violins, viola, cello)
  • Classical Symphony
  • Classical Violin
  • Classical Violin Concerto
  • Classical Violin Sonata

Note: There are other categories in addition to the above. For instance Classical Voice for aria collections. Or Classical Choral, Cello Concerto, Viola Concerto, Double Concerto, Triple Concerto, etc.

But if you put only "Opera" as a subcategory it will be under the letter "O". Whereas "Classical Opera" will be under the letter "C" alphabetically speaking. You could also include Oratorio under Opera or have it as a separate category.

Alternatively you could group String Quartets, Piano Trios, Violin Sonatas all together under "Chamber Music" or "Classical Chamber Music".

You could also choose to group Symphony, Piano Concerto, Violin Concerto, Cello Concerto, Viola Concerto, Double Concerto, Triple Concerto, etc. under "Orchestral" or "Classical Orchestral".

As you can see there are a variety of options as to how to group genres and subgenres and it is wise to think about your music collection and how you think about it beforehand rather than try to change it after you have ripped your entire collection!

IMPORTANT TIP: It is very important to make sure that if you choose to use folders and subfolders that the cumulative name length of any nested folders combined with your track names are not too long.

If you do wish to make a series of nested folders then you can substitute codes for long folder names. For instance C or CL or Cl could stand for Classical.

Or you could use numbers as follows:

"1" (could stand for classical)

"2" (could stand for jazz)

"3" (could stand for popular)

So a hard drive could look like this:

D:\Music\1\  (which would mean that hard drive D: has a music folder and that this is subfolder for classical.)

D:\Music\2\  (= jazz)

D:\Music\3\  (= popular)

Each collection of music is different so there is no one best way to classify things.

We have found that if you have either a classical and/or a jazz collection that it can be nice to have either separate folders or better yet utilize separate drives for them. One reason is that the MusiChi Tagger software can allow you to relatively easily correct and more completely fill in various metadata fields such as composer, artist, and classical compositions/movements.

All of the above being said, using separate drives may be the best solution for a large collection—as if your music server software will only look at a folder named "music" then you could have for instance you could have 3 drives each with one folder named "Music" as follows:

D:\Music  (for classical)

E:\Music  (for jazz)

F:\Music  (for all other genres including "popular")

An Alternative Method of Classification as Utilized by Libraries

If you have an extremely large music collection you might be interested in classifying your collection the way that libraries do as follows:

Step One: Categorize using the following template:

A - Music Appreciation
B - Operas: Complete & Highlights
C - Choral Music
D - Vocal Music
E - Orchestral Music

  • EA - General Orchestral Music
  • EB - Ballet Music
  • EC - Concertos
  • ES - Symphonies

F - Chamber Music
G - Solo Instrumental Music

  • GG - Music for Solo Guitar
  • GO - Music for Solo Organ
  • GP - Music for Solo Piano
  • GS - Music for Solo Stringed Instruments
  • GV - Music for Solo Violin
  • GW - Music for Solo Wind Instruments
  • GX - Percussion and Unusual Instruments

H - Band Music
J - Electronic and Mechanical Music
K - Musical Shows and Operettas: Complete and Excerpts
L - Soundtrack Music: Motion Pictures and Television
M - Popular Music

  • MA - Pop
  • MC - Country & Western
  • MG - Gospel music
  • MJ - Jazz Music
  • MR Rock, rhythm & blues, blues

P - Folk & Ethnic Music: National
Q - International Folk & Ethnic Music
R - Holiday Music
S - Varieties & Humor
T - Plays
U - Poetry
V - Prose
W - Documentary
X - Instructional Recording
Y - Sounds and Special Effects
Z - Children’s Recordings
     ZI - Instructional Recordings for Children
     ZM - Music Recordings for Children
     ZS - Spoken Recordings for Children

STEP TWO: Inside each category above, subcategorize as appropriate using the following:

CLASSICAL - either by composer or performer's last name—performer could either be the conductor or the soloist.
POPULAR - performer's last name—or first word in musical group's name (with the exception of ignoring the word "The")

STEP THREE: Inside each category subcategorize by:


What follows are some specific suggestions and examples to get you thinking about how to organize your music files:


The Naming of an Artist, Conductor, Composer, or Group

Before you start, it is advisable to think about how you wish to have artists, groups, or composers named—especially their exact spelling and format.

For instance "The Beatles" could be under "T" or you may wish to have them under "B" for "Beatles". Note that in some music server software (MediaMonkey music server software is one example) there may be the option to ignore the word "The" in the name of a band so that The Beatles would be listed alphabetically under "B" rather than "T".

Then there is Stevie Ray Vaughan. Do you want to have this name alphabetized under the first or last name? "S" for Stevie or "V" for Vaughn? Personally I would suggest the former, but the choice is of course yours. And certainly the latter makes perfect sense too.

Or for instance there are any number of different possible ways to spell Tchaikovsky including:

  • Tchaikowsky
  • Tschaikowsky
  • Tsjaikovski
  • Tchaikowski

And there are undoubtedly more. Especially with Russian names it seems that there can sometimes be multiple ways to them in English. Another example is Tatiana Nikolayeva whose name can also be spelled as:  Tatyana Nikolaeva, Tatyana Nikolayeva, Tatiana Nikoleyeva, Tatiana Nikolajeva, Tatjana Nikolajeva. Of course in Russian it is actually: Татьяна Николаеваetc.

Also you should consider whether or not to use an umlaut as in Karl Böhm-- or an accent egu for Gabriel Fauré. You may find that it is easier if these are omitted. Either way though the ideal is always to use the same convention throughout your entire collection.

Then there are options to consider like the following: For Herbert von Karajan—you could use either Karajan or von Karajan. Personally I prefer the former. However for Ralph Vaughan Williams I would definitely suggest Vaughan Williams over just Williams!

The ideal is to make sure that each musician, group, or composer is always spelled the same way—which may mean that you have to retype some of the metadata in order to make your collection properly searchable. And this is especially true with classical music collections of any size! Of course it is always a good idea to test your conventions using the music server software that you will be utilizing!

Multiple Artists & Album Artists: Choosing Punctuation

If there are several musicians playing together on a track (and of course on an album it may be that all of the tracks are the same combination of artists—or maybe not in which case each track needs to be named separately) there are different ways to separate the names. For instance you can use a comma or you can use a semicolon. Different software will use these differently though. In Media Monkey if you have two artists separated by a semicolon then they will be listed as two separate artists. Here are some examples:

Karajan; Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra


Karajan; Berlin


Karajan; BPO

Whereas in Media Monkey two artists separated by a comma will be viewed as a single entity. Here is an example:

Karajan, Berlin

However you are better off using the latter approach (using a coma to separate artists on any given track) if you are using Media Monkey on your music server and as a remote control are using the MonkeyTunes app which communicates via Wi-Fi to an Apple iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad running the Apple Remote app. The reason is that if you try to use a semicolon you won't be able to click through from an artist to anything—you'll only get a blank screen with no albums or tracks listed even though they are indeed in the database. This may be fixed in later versions of Media Monkey of course.

But with JRiver music server software a semicolon works fine.

You also have the choice of separating words with a space or an underscore. For instance the first track of Abbey Road by The Beatles could be:

The Beatles - Abbey Road - 01 - Come Together.wav


The_Beatles_-_Abbey_Road_-_01_- Come_Together.wav

Depending upon the software you are using it may not make any difference. If it doesn't of course then obviously the easiest approach is the first of the above two examples, i.e. without using the underscore for each space.

The main advice here is to select a particular approach and then test it using the music server software/hardware combo before spending a lot of time doing your whole collection! As trying to correct it all after the fact for a whole collection is a real chore!

Note: In some music server software there can be a differentiation between an Artist and an Album Artist.

Also it is important to understand that exactly how you do file naming isn't so important if you are using Tags rather than filenames for metadata.

The Naming of a Work - Spelling, Capitalization, and Punctuation Matters!

Especially with classical music there can be more than one way to spell the name of a particular work. For example Bach's St. Matthew Passion could be named in a variety of ways:

  • Bach St. Matthew Passion
  • Bach St Matthew Passion
  • Bach, St. Matthew Passion
  • Bach: St. Matthew Passion
  • St. Matthew Passion
  • St Matthew Passion
  • Saint Matthew Passion
  • Johann Sebastian Bach St. Matthew Passion
  • JS Bach St. Matthew Passion
  • J.S. Bach St. Matthew Passion
  • J. S. Bach St. Matthew Passion
  • Bach- St. Matthäus-Passion
  • Matthaus-Passion
  • Matthäuspassion
  • Passion selon Saint Matthieu

Well you get the idea—there are numerous variations on the theme!

Personally my preference is for either the first version, i.e. Bach St. Matthew Passion or the second version as it is straightforward and uses no punctuation except for the period in the first version—but whatever your preference is is fine. Though whatever you decide upon, it is suggested that you stick with the same convention. For instance putting the name of the composer in front of the piece or not, etc. One thing that experience shows is that if you have more than one version of a particular piece, it is especially advisable to spell it the exact same way so that you can find all versions of that piece easily when you do a search.

My preference for using "Bach St. Matthew Passion" also assumes that "Bach" means "Johann Sebastian Bach". "CPE Bach" or "Bach, CPE" are examples of ways to indicate a particular son of Bach. And I prefer the second approach for alphabetical searching reasons.

Depending upon your music server software it may be advisable to not use hyphens or colons in an artist's name in the file-naming. However it is fine to use them in the Tags for the Artist or Album fields, etc. Also colons and slashes will definitely not work in folder names when using an OS such as Windows.

For instance with Bach The Well-Tempered Clavier you may need to be careful about having that hyphen in the filename itself. With some music server software it may be better to leave out the hyphen like so:

Bach The Well Tempered Clavier

And depending upon your music server software, the only time to use a slash (/) in working with album file naming is when you are using the "Various Artist" feature.

It is also important to understand that because different music server software can react differently to punctuation, you should understand when to use a dash, a dash with a space on either side, a semi-colon, a colon, etc. If in doubt test out your name/punctuation scheme first before doing your entire collection. Sometimes you might want, or might not want, a certain kind of punctuation in either the folder name, the file name, and/or the metadata tags.

Once again it is advisable to test your folder and file naming scheme in order to ensure that you won't have problems that you'll have to go back and correct! It can very time-consuming to refigure out and then rework file and folder names!

Also you should carefully look at your music server software setup as you can use sometimes under "Options" set it up for one or another way of deriving metadata from filenames if your files aren't Tagged.

Folder Hierarchy

Below the "Artist" folder level in the hierarchical tree structure there would then be an individual folder for each "Album"—the name of which would be the name, abbreviated or not, of the album. In each album folder would be the files of the actual tracks or movements as well as the track numbers. Most people prefer to have the track numbers before the track name rather than after—but ultimately that is a personal preference.

So then a hierarchical folder tree could look like this: Music>Genre>Artist>Album

Below are some real world examples which will illustrate various aspects of categorization for you to consider:


The Beatles: Abbey Road (2009 remastered CD)

For example:


For Abbey Road there are 17 songs so there would be 17 files in the "Abbey_Road" folder.

Since the Beatles albums were remastered in 2009, if you have that new better sounding remastered version then you could include that information too. So then the folder tree would look like this:


(Note that the track numbers can be either before or after the name of the song in the file name for each track. The method we have normally used is track # before track name—but as long as you always do it the same way you can do it either way.)

Note that in this example the remastering year and the rerelease year are the same, although there are cases when it can be different.


Bach: The Art of Fugue (Die Kunst der Fuge) - played by pianist Tatiana Nikolayeva

Alternatively a hierarchical folder tree could look like this:


For example:


[Note: There are 20 movements in The Art of the Fugue so there would be 20 files in the last folder entitled "Nikolayeva".]

There is another aspect to consider too. Let's say that you have The Art of Fugue that spans two CD's as in the case of this release—as The Art of Fugue actually starts in the middle of the first CD at Track #7 and runs through to the end of the 2nd CD. Then you may wish to put all of the tracks of that piece into one folder. If you do this then you would need to redo the track #'s for both the first and the 2nd CD so that they are arranged in the proper playing order. In addition you might wish to create one more folder for the first 6 tracks of the CD in this particular example.


Beethoven's Ninth Symphony - conducted by Herbert von Karajan

Sometimes a conductor does the same piece more than once. For instance von Karajan recorded at least 7 different performances of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. He recorded 4 performances in mono (1947 Vienna Philharmonic & 1955 Vienna Symphony & 1955 London Philharmonia & 1957 Berlin Philharmonic) and 3 in stereo (1963, 1977, 1984 with the Berlin Philharmonic).

So then the hierarchical folder tree could look like this:


For example:


[Note: Here there are 4 movements so there would be 4 files or tracks in the last folder.]

Then to make things even more complicated there are remastered versions of these performances available. So you could add in the remastering date of either 1997 or 2003—(which in the following example is 2003)—in which case the tree could look like this:


You could also name the artist Karajan,_BPO which is the abbreviation for Herbert von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. (Alternatively you could abbreviate it as Karajan; Berlin.)

So then the tree would look like this:




In the example just above the rm is an abbreviation for remastering. You could also put it after the year as 2003rm.

Optionally, though it isn't necessary, you could also add in the release date if you wish so that would mean even a 3rd year designation. The reason for this is that, with at least one particular version (originally recorded in 1963) of von Karajan's Beethoven Ninth, first there was the original mastering for CD, then a 1997 remastering, and then a 2nd remastering done in 2003. However there have been more than 3 release dates as there have been a number of different CD pressings in different CD packaging.

Obviously which interpretation it is is most important. Once you have determined the recording date which identifies which interpretation it is, the remastering date is the next most important one as that will affect the sound quality. Generally speaking the release date will have no effect whatsoever on sound quality. However it isn't always easy to find out what the remastering date actually is as opposed to the release date which is sometimes easier to learn. It depends upon how much you wish to know about which version it is that you are listening to and how much time you are willing to invest in doing the requisite research. Fortunately many times if you read the fine print in the CD booklet the recording and remastering dates are usually listed either near the front or near the back.

In this particular example just above, at last count there were 21 different CD releases currently available that contain a von Karajan Beethoven Ninth. You can see a listing of them all here.

And von Karajan isn't the only example of a conductor who did numerous versions of Beethoven's Ninth. For instance Klemperer did at least 7 recordings:

November 1957 - Philharmonia Orchestra (studio)
May 1956 - Concertgebouw (live)
November 1957 - Philharmonia Orchestra (live)
January, 1958 - Kölner Rundfunk Sinfonie Orchestra (live)
June 1960 - Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (live)
November 1961 - Philharmonia Orchestra (live)
October 1964 - New Philharmonia Orchestra (live)


Faure's Requiem - conducted by Philippe Herreweghe

Alternatively a conductor might record 2 different versions of the same piece. For instance there is an 1893 chamber version of Faure's Requiem and a 1901 concert version. The latter version was rewritten for a larger group and included more instruments.

So then the hierarchical folder tree could look like this:


So for example:


And then the listing for the other work would look like this:


[Note there are 7 movements so there would be 7 files or tracks in the last folder.]


If you have a compilation CD with a number of different artists, then you may wish to put each track into their respective artist's folder. Alternatively you may wish to include the artist name as a part of each track name, either at the beginning or end (possibly in parentheses).

Some music server software has an option which will handle compilations of various artists on different tracks. In MediaMonkey software for example the "Artist" name can be different for each track—while at the same time the Album Artist can be listed as the same such as "Various". This means that all of the tracks will show up in one album but you still will be able to see the name of each individual artist for each individual track. If using JRiver it also does a fine job of handling compilation discs.

In classical music there are often pairings of two or more pieces by different composers. And you may wish to leave the albums sequenced as they are. For an example when Horowitz gave a concert he had a definite idea of what order to play certain pieces in and you may wish to listen as you would in a live concert. However there may be instances where you may wish to break them into separate folders.

Final Thoughts on File Folder Organization

As you think about your collection, you may do it differently from the examples given above. For instance you might wish to further divide "Classical" into the various eras. And/or you might wish to divide "Classical" into categories such as:

  • Orchestral
  • Solo Piano
  • String Quartet
  • Choral
  • Opera

Then under a folder such as Orchestral you could you have further subdivisions such as:

  • Piano Concerto
  • String Concerto
  • Symphony

Of course you could further divide String Concerto as follows:

  • Cello Concerto
  • Double Concerto
  • Viola Concerto
  • Violin Concerto

Or for instance you might wish to rip a particular CD as one file—rather than the conventional way which is have an individual file for each individual track which then could be assembled into an album or a playlists. But however you do it, it is important to plan out an appropriate folder and file organization scheme and then stick to it. Consistency is key!

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