The iTunes application has never really dealt well with classical music: to do it right, you need more tags than just “Album,” “Artist” and “Title,” and purchased classical tracks, if they’re tagged at all, are often tagged either inappropriately or uselessly. (Omnibus collections are inevitably the worst, probably because they’re just thrown together out of existing tracks.) Even if you get all your tags in place, though, you’re still not out of the woods:
“To give you a really specific situation, there are two settings of the Te Deum text by Benjamin Britten. And it would seem to me that if you type in ‘Britten’ and ‘Te Deum,’ you would see some of them,” the composer Nico Muhly told me. “But it says, ‘no results found’.”
I want to submit to the record here that Muhly’s hard drive contains seven different files that could be reasonably called the Britten Te Deum. In fact, it contains more than 2,000 files, or 11.9 gigabytes, of music by Benjamin Britten. It also contains 97 different settings of the Te Deum text.
“What’s extraordinary about it is that I tagged everything really, really well. It’s in Artist, Album Artist, all these things are organized,” he said.
But when “Britten Te Deum” is searched — and he sent me a screenshot of this — nothing comes up. “It’s not like, let me show you too many results. It just does not compute.”
Not that it would matter if you did get results:
Even when the search function does locate a file, he says, pressing “return” to play it does not start playing the highlighted file, but the first file listed alphabetically in iTunes. “Which of course is only Aaliyah.”
I did my own test, looking for Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonata in E, K. 380, Andante comodo. Search function came up blank no matter how many terms I entered; it recognized the composer’s name, but didn’t seem to connect it to any actual tracks. (And yet it’s there, on the Transformation set by Yuja Wang.)