Saturday, July 11, 2009

From the Plastic to the Magnetic

This post is in the "looking for advice" category:

One of my projects this month is to put all of my classical CDs into iTunes. I've long avoided this move, partly because the iTunes interface for classical music is not the most intuitive, but mostly because, well, I don't have enough hard disc space. It's not a large collection by musicological standards (we're talking roughly 260 discs), but by my math that's roughly 18 gigabytes or so, and I don't have that kind of space on my little laptop. (I've long since put all of my popular music on my laptop, so that's not at issue here.)

Well, a year of full-time teaching, and I think I need to do it. When I teach I do so off of iTunes usually, and it's been a pain to remember to rip the necessary files at home before class. And there have been countless times that in the middle of a lecture I've wished I could quickly bring up some obscure piece that I know I own, but is sitting at home on a piece of plastic. And finally, since I'm dividing my time between Virginia and Pennsylvania this year, the less I need to lug back and forth the better.

So let me run my plan by the brilliant minds that read this blog. I'm going to buy an external hard drive, probably one of those USB ones that don't need their own power supply. (any recommendations?) Then, as I understand it, you can create a new iTunes library that can be stored on another drive. With that in place, I'll cheerfully start ripping. I can keep the external drive in my office down in Virginia, and it will be easy enough to bring to the classroom with me each day.

One problem I forsee is that external hard drives are not always entirely reliable, so I need to have at least a rudimentary backup system in place. The external hard drives I currently use for backing up have enough space for that, and it's not like I'll need to back up too often--it's not like I buy tons of music very often, so once I have my basic collection ripped and then backed up, it will be mostly unchanging. So that should be okay, I think.

Any issues I'm not thinking about? It's a little weird, I realize, to keep popular music on my computer's hard drive, and classical on an external drive. After all, critiquing that duality is something I do a lot in my research and teaching! But to be honest, in the ways in which I use music in my daily life, I think it should fine. When I say "classical music," I'm referring mostly to common period canonical music that I trot out for teaching, and don't listen to (or work on) much on my own.

1 comment:

Glenn said...

I think the idea of having a separate iTunes library and separate hard drive for only some of your music will become more of a pain as time goes on. I do think having the large external drive for music is a good idea though.

I ripped our classical library to iTunes a couple of years ago and the iTunes interface is fine. The problems will arise in the CDDB data other people have entered and which iTunes will draw upon to initially populate the track listing of each disc. Chances are you'll need to do a lot of editing, but you should check out There are several scripts here that you download and install into iTunes's script folder that enable you to manipulate track data in really useful ways.

Use the search box to download (donationware):

*This Tag, That Tag (a quartet of scripts that move info from one tag to another)
*Append to Selected Tag (appends and prepends custom text to any tag as necessary)
*Track names to Sentence Caps (for those French chansons...)
*Search/Replace Tag Text (useful for removing duplicate info prepended to track titles, etc.)

Basically, after these are installed, you insert your disc, wait for the CDDB crap to appear, select the tracks you want to manipulate, and then choose the script you want to apply to those tracks.

Good luck.