What is the best, most flexible way to organize recordings of Jewish liturgy?
August 11, 2008 1:06 PM   Subscribe

How can my synagogue organize a large and developing library of liturgical recordings? I'm interested in (inexpensive or free) specialized software or in suggestions on how to use more commonplace software for this purpose.

SynagogueFilter: My shul is working on digitizing thousands of audio tapes' worth of cantorial recordings of the Torah, Haftarah, prayers, and other readings. We are also re-recording many of these. How can we best organize them?
My initial thought was to use a folder structure like this (we use the triennial system): Category > Book > Parsha > Triennial part > Aliyah (where, for example, we might have Torah > Devarim > V'zot Habracha > Triennial year 3 > Third aliyah). However, it occurs to me that it might be useful to navigate in other ways, such as by filtering down to a particular year of the triennial cycle earlier in the process, or by viewing all of the Devarim recordings at once.

Is there any good way to do this? Is there software that's intended for something like this? Is there a creative way to use iTunes or some similar software for this? Or should we pick a folder structure and live with its limitations?

posted by likedoomsday to Technology (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think that Audacity is the best way to go about this, if you're recording. You can store several metadata values in the mp3s after recording them, or (alternatively) you can save them with filenames such as 2008_devarim_12_3 for perek 12, pasuk 3.
posted by LSK at 1:27 PM on August 11, 2008

Blog it. Categories and tags in wordpress should be able to help you organize them both hierarchically and more flexibly. Memail me if you've got more questions -- I'm doing a similar project for the DC Beit Midrash at the moment. Text, but it's attachments just the same.
posted by piro at 1:32 PM on August 11, 2008

For software management of your project, take a look at Exhibit from the Simile Project and Omeka. Both are free and easy to use.
posted by imposster at 2:23 PM on August 11, 2008

How about MediaWiki, the software that runs Wikipedia? It's free and it would let you use wiki "categories" to organize things by as many separate hierarchies as you want - basically like piro's suggestion to use Wordpress. Being designed for managing an encyclopedia, MediaWiki is very specialized for cross-linking, categorizing, and organizing things. There's this nice CategoryTree extension that displays a group of categories as an expanding/collapsing folder system.
posted by XMLicious at 3:21 PM on August 11, 2008

I think categories and tags are the way to go, rather than a more fixed hierarchical system. Every synagogue I've ever been part of has adopted, then abandoned, then re-adopted and re-abandoned the triennial system at some point, so it might be nice to just have that as a tag rather than a fixed category, so you could just have the same material tagged as both "triennial year one, third aliyah" and "non-triennial (is there a word for this? standard?), first aliyah", etc.
posted by judith at 3:27 PM on August 11, 2008

Response by poster: I think I might be missing something here. How am I supposed to use MediaWiki, WordPress, or whatever to organize audio files? If these were text files, I could absolutely see that, but they're not.
posted by likedoomsday at 5:27 PM on August 11, 2008

You would create a web site where each page of the site is a link to exactly one audio file. Then, the categorization and organization of those web pages organizes and makes browsable the audio catalog.

Even the folder system you see on an operating system desktop is really just a logical organization, an automatically-generated group of links to audio files that may be physically scattered all over the place on the hard drive.
posted by XMLicious at 7:01 AM on August 12, 2008

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