Economy of Effort

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Categorization Is Hard

I’m having a difficult time categorizing my digital music library into genres.

Why does this matter? Because browsing by genre is the easiest way on the iPod to browse through stuff without having to scroll through EVERY artist/album on the device. On a 60GB device, that adds up a lot.

Some categorizations are easy. My “Jazz” collection is relatively small enough to fit together under a single “Jazz” genre. Ambient, IDM, techno, and anything else electronic all fits nicely in “Electronic”.

It’s rock music that’s harder. I’ve got commercial rock music from the 50s through 80s as “Classic Rock”. Commercial rock from the 90s on forward as “Modern Rock”. Indie rock also goes into “Modern Rock”. Anything suitably heavy goes under “Metal”. Right now, my progressive rock, post-rock, and any other experimental rock is under an “Art Rock” heading, which helps sidestep the messy blurry boundaries of experimental rock music, but also creates for a single giant category that almost defeats the whole purpose.

I would like to break up the “Art Rock” a bit more again, but that seems hard. “Post-Rock” is a genre label that seems to be dying out, and there’s a lot of modern experimental rock that just doesn’t seem to fit nicely under “Progressive Rock”. And sometimes “Post-Rock” seems to have very fuzzy borders with “Progressive Rock”. And some of the experimental modern rock often gets associated with more traditional indie rock, even though it probably has more in common with the other stuff I have under “Art Rock”.

Any ideas? I don’t really care to be overly precise (actually, I’ve been heading in the opposite direction with a catch-all like “Art Rock”), but damn if it’s not annoying to have so much stuff under one genre heading when trying to browse on the ol' iPod.