Thank you so much for all the comments and emails you have sent me after publishing part 1: Tagging in iTunes.
I'll post some of the ideas I've got from my readers in a wrap-up post after this small series is finished.
So, let's start with part two.
We need two more parameters to have an idea about the music in our library: the tempo of the song and a personal rating system.
Detecting BPM (Beats Per Minute)
As you know, the tempo is defined in BPM or beats per minute.
Detecting BPM is manual work and it takes a lot of time. By my own experience, all automatic BPM detectors are not useful for jazz/swing music (tell me, if I'm wrong), because they usually only count every second beat. Then you get a number like 96 although the song has 192 bpm.
Helpful Tools to Manually Detect Beats Per Minute
- Tap for Beats Per Minute BPM This tool runs in your browser. Just tap any key and get the BPM. Disadvantage: There is no function to write the detected BPM in iTunes.
Tools for iTunes
If you use iTunes as your basic library, then here are some tools for you.
- ltjBPM for Mac (link App Store EU). The one I currently use. Very small application window. Standalone tool to detect BPM by tapping a shortcut. Lets you export measured BPM directly in iTunes. Many more functions like skipping to next song, rating, etc. all controlled by shortcuts. Costs: $ 2.99 / CHF 3
- Cadence BPM Tapper for Windows & Mac (link App Store EU). Standalone tool to detect BPM by tapping a button. Lets you export measured BPM directly in iTunes. Costs: Free.
- Cadence Desktop for Mac (link App Store EU) & Windows. The desktop version. Costs: $ 5.99 / CHF 6
- Turnover for Mac (link App Store EU) Another BPM tapper. Many functions, also controlled by shortcuts. Actually, developped by a runner for runners. Costs: $ 4.99 / CHF 5. (Note: I haven't tested the software so far. I you have any experiences, please share them with us).
Beside the tagging system, I also have created my own rating system which I would like to share with you today. The rating basically refers to the danceabilty. In other words, when the song gets a bad rating it doesn't mean it's a bad song, rather it's not suitable for swing dancers.
Let's have a look.
***** 5 Stars
Great song for dancing, safe winner, no pre-listening required (by myself as DJ)
Great song for dancing, pre-listening required/preferred
*** 3 Stars
Average song for dancing, I usually don't play these songs at (main) events. But sometimes, I come back to the 3-star songs, because I need new inspiration or because my music taste has changed in the meantime and I would rate some of them higher now.
** 2 Stars
No-go. I never play this song for a dance crowd (I prefer to give some stars instead of none, so I know that I already have rated the song)
* 1 Star
Duplicate song, I already have rated this song (the higher rated song has usually the better sound quality)
A while ago, I found out that if you copy your iTunes library to a new computer, you loose the star rating. So I started to additionally use the grouping field to write in the rating as figures (1-5). I do this from time to time with bulk modification.
That's it! Now it's up to you again:
Let me know, what tools for BPM detecting and which rating system are you using?
Or do you have any questions about this post? I'll answer them in the comments below!
Here are the links to part 1 and part 3:
- How to Organize Music in iTunes. Part 1: Tagging
- How to Organize Music in iTunes. Part 3: Smart Playlists
If you like this post, then check out Swing DJ Resources for more articles for Swing DJs.
Photo credit: schnaibel