Apple Is Finally Making iTunes Better for Classical Music

Itunes classicalClassical music fans have long complained about iTunes, and the way it organizes music that just doesn’t work well with classical music. It holds “songs,” not tracks, and doesn’t have the concept of a “work,” a multi-movement piece of music. While it does have a Grouping tag, which the iTunes Store uses for that purpose, iTunes itself doesn’t allow you to display music efficiently with that tag.

This seems to be changing. In the latest beta of iTunes 12.5, which is part of the beta of macOS Sierra, Apple has added some new tags: Work and Movement. As you can see at the left, the Other section of the View Options window lets you choose to display these tags.

To edit these tags, select a track, and then click the Song Name text; the two little arrows are a hint that this is actually a popup menu. Choose Work Name, and the tags change.

Itunes classical tags

You can enter the work name, and the movement number (n of n), as well as the movement name. Here’s an example of how this can look in Songs view:

Songs view classical

This is a huge improvement, though it’s not perfect. In Playlist view, since the artists’ names are long, you don’t see any of this information. And there’s no way (yet) to link these movements together. Ideally, I’d see a way to click a disclosure triangle next to the first movement of a work to show a single line for that work and all its tracks, so you can manipulate it better, adding it to a playlist or Up Next, for example, or double-clicking it to play a work.

But this is real progress from Apple, which has long suggested that it wasn’t interested in classical music in iTunes. Note that this information should be available in the iTunes Store and on Apple Music in the future, so music you match, stream, or download should have better tags for classical music.