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How to get iTunes to preserve non-ASCII in song titles?

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How to get iTunes to preserve non-ASCII in song titles?

Postby mhschmieder » Sun Oct 30, 2016 12:10 pm

I have a Brasilian theme that needs special characters in its song title.

To test what might need to happen to support this, I uploaded an Assad Brothers classical compilation, and discovered that the accent in Sergio Assad's name is preserved, but all of the non-ASCII characters in the song titles turn into question marks or get simplified to regular "c" (no cedilla) or accentless vowels.

I think this is because the song title will correspond in most cases to the file name on disc, so it may be limited in the supported list of characters -- even though spaces are allowed.

Does anyone know if there's a workaround? Or if the actual character is stored but simply not displayed?

I primarily work in ethnic genres, classical, and jazz, so this is very important to me, for my own music as well not losing information when I upload CD's in my collection.

After an hour of on-line research, I have given up for now. I went down one wrong path already, looking at ID3 tags (something that is now somewhat hidden in iTunes 12), only to discover that only MP3's use those. I work mostly with WAV and lossless Apple files (equivalent of FLAC).
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Re: How to get iTunes to preserve non-ASCII in song titles?

Postby mikehalloran » Mon Oct 31, 2016 8:37 am

Hmmmm... are there any Portuguese characters not part of ASCI II? I don't think so.

I suspect that you are trying to copy and paste, right? That doesn't always work.

Do you know how to access the full range of ASCI keyboard characters on a Mac? There are at least three ways.

Here's the easy way. Suggestion #4
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201586

You can also use the Keyboard or Character Viewers, copy and paste. This has been part of the OS since 1984.
http://www.macworld.com/article/2985301 ... -os-x.html

You can even have the Portuguese keyboard as one of your input sources.

I have no problem typing them into iTunes titles and having them stay.
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Re: How to get iTunes to preserve non-ASCII in song titles?

Postby mhschmieder » Tue Nov 01, 2016 12:43 am

Mike, the problem is actually with a CD read into iTunes using FLAC (I forget what Apple calls their version of it and am too tired to look it up as I'm nodding out after a VERY long work day).

No cut/paste involved. So I figured it has to do with issues related to file naming as the Song Title is the only part of Get Info that might have some direct bearing on that (well, I suppose the album title and artist name as well, so it's interesting that those came out OK).

I went through every setting I could find in iTunes but could find nothing that turns on or off, UTF-8 as the preferred default vs. US-ASCII or even a simple European ASCII variant.
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Re: How to get iTunes to preserve non-ASCII in song titles?

Postby Tonio » Tue Nov 01, 2016 12:52 pm

Mark,

did you try the international settings / keyboard layout in preferences-suppose spanish? Are you looking for the enyay? Not sure it will work in iTunes or not, however.
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Re: How to get iTunes to preserve non-ASCII in song titles?

Postby mikehalloran » Tue Nov 01, 2016 2:44 pm

iTunes doesn't support FLAC. I used to convert those with Toast or Audacity before I discovered TwistedWave. "TwistedWave can read and save music metadata from files in the aiff, wav, mp3, mp4, flac and ogg/vobis format."

TW will batch convert to most standard formats and you can use iTunes to 'batch import' as Apple Lossless. I don't know any batch conversion utility that supports Apple Lossless except iTunes and, except for TW, most others don't support FLAC (DSP-Q included).

There are other converters, some of them free but TwistedWave does batch conversion. You can usually find it for $15–20 at Cult of Mac. $15 today. It's sold as an editor but that's not how I use it.
https://deals.cultofmac.com/sales/twist ... lity-mixes

As I posted before, in El Cap and earlier, I had difficulty editing iTunes unless the files contained .wav, .aac, mp3 or mp4a. Aif were a no-go. In Sierra, any file type lets me edit titles and add artwork including .aif. That may be the real issue.

Anyway, try typing in the titles and see if that works.
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Re: How to get iTunes to preserve non-ASCII in song titles?

Postby mhschmieder » Wed Nov 02, 2016 12:29 am

There was another iTunes update last night, which I installed but haven't tried yet.

Just finished a super-long work day and am crashing. Main thing is just to say I'm too tired and busy this work week to look up what Apple calls their variation of FLAC; I can't remember it. I use the encoding of iTunes and set it as my preference. I only use lossless compression. Apple's.

The characters with trouble are unique to Portuguese vs. Spanish, but some are also found in French. The cedilla, for one. But maybe the information is already bad in Gracenotes and that's the problem vs. iTunes. I'll try to find other examples, such as Rough Guide's many ethnic compilations.

Turkish is a real challenge and I have a few Turkish CD's. Anyone who has spent part of their career working with character sets is aware that Turkish has both a dotted and a dotless "i", and each has a lower-case and upper-case version, but this plays havoc with ASCII conversions or even proper detection of Turkish. In fact it might be the best test case for system settings, iTunes issues, and Gracenotes database issues (of which there are many).
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Re: How to get iTunes to preserve non-ASCII in song titles?

Postby mikehalloran » Wed Nov 02, 2016 5:06 am

Those of us who have performed in Turkey also know it. Apple has a Turkish keyboard, too.

All of the Portuguese characters are part of ASCI and can be typed into iTunes. I tried it and it works fine. If importing titles the way you want doesn't work, you'll have to enter them manually. You asked for the workaround — there it is.

I think I know a workaround for Turkish but I want to try it before posting.
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Re: How to get iTunes to preserve non-ASCII in song titles?

Postby mikehalloran » Wed Nov 02, 2016 4:49 pm

I know that you just want to import them but that may not be your option—or might, see my next post.

Turkish and Portuguese continued...

The Mac OS supports the Turkish alphabet just as it does the Portuguese. This means that you can type the titles into iTunes. I tested all three in iTunes 12.5.3 in Sierra.

Here are three ways:

The easy way: Go to these sites.
Turkish: http://turkish.typeit.org/
Portuguese: http://portuguese.typeit.org/

Type your title into the dialog box. Use the Turkish/Portuguese alphabet characters by clicking on them when necessary. Copy the title and paste into iTunes.


The way per Apple Support. This is #4 from the Apple support link:
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201586

Click in the title bar in iTunes. Press Control–Command–Space bar. The Character Viewer pop-up window appears. Hold the letter key down and every variant supported by the Mac OS will appear. Select the Turkish or Portuguese character you need. This is cumbersome as hell—you are unlikely to do it twice.


The fast way: Portuguese (and most other European alphabets but not Turkish): Learn the combination of Shift/Option/Command keys for each of the characters you need. They are all in there. To make it easy, do the following. Go to System/Preferences/Keyboard. Check the box for Show Keyboard & Emoji (or Characters) Viewers in the menu bar. You will now see an icon in the Menu bar.
Image
Click and select Show Keyboard Viewer. As you click on the Shift/Option/Command keys, you'll see them change in the viewer.

A few like the umlaut ¨ and virgulilla ˜ are dynamic and will show up in orange. Type the modifier, then the letter. You can even type in Queensrÿche that way if you really need to (only word in any language with ÿ that I know).

Image

Anyway, I type a lot of German, Spanish and French. I've not done Brazilian Portuguese since I worked for Distinct 15 years ago. Once you learn the keyboard combinations you need, you can type quickly.

While I'm at it, you can find these sites by searching for online (language) keyboard. Here are a few more:
Spanish: http://spanish.typeit.org/
German: http://german.typeit.org/
Danish: http://danish.typeit.org/
French: http://french.typeit.org/
Last edited by mikehalloran on Wed Nov 02, 2016 5:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How to get iTunes to preserve non-ASCII in song titles?

Postby mikehalloran » Wed Nov 02, 2016 5:26 pm

There's a possibility that, if you convert your files in TwistedWave, your titles will import properly into iTunes. I cannot test this as I have no Brazilian or Turkish CDs, only vinyl.

FLAC to mp4a Apple Lossless.

The suffix mp4a is used for a number of file types in iTunes including Apple Lossless. It's also used for AAC and High Efficiency AAC.

It turns out that TwistedWave will do batch conversion from FLAC to Apple Lossless. It's not in the documentation but I found it.

In the File menu, select Batch Processing.
In the Batch Script (upper) window, select Save, then click on Edit.
In File Format, select MEG4 AUDIO (mp4a iTunes)
In Settings, select Apple Lossless and the Bit Rate
I change the Location to make importing easier—dealer choice.

In the lower window, find the files that you wish to convert. You can mix file types for processing including mono and stereo.
Click Start Processing. Three or four CDs take about a minute.

You can download a 30 day demo of TwistedWave.
https://twistedwave.com/mac.html

Cult of Mac has it for $15 right now.
https://deals.cultofmac.com/sales/twist ... lity-mixes
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Re: How to get iTunes to preserve non-ASCII in song titles?

Postby mhschmieder » Sat Nov 05, 2016 1:42 pm

Mike, thanks so much for taking the time. I spent a good number of my years helping to INSTITUTE the standards for character sets (back in the mid 80's) and it's a passion of mine. :-)

I worked 14 hours a day all week and am under increasing (didn't think that was possible) pressure at work, but will come back to this topic when I feel I can take the time to focus on full problem resolution -- I don't like to skim over things anymore at my advanced age and prefer to dedicate myself to really learning and solving things.

I'm still unwinding from extreme stress, but may well get to some of my own middle eastern style material this weekend or next, at which point I will dive right in and address the Turkish issue in particular. I had forgotten that cedilla is already part of standard 7-bit ASCII so will try cut/paste soon to see if that gets rejected for Portuguese, in which case likely Gracenotes goofed up.

I have been considering buying a few Magic Keyboards in different languages -- especially ones I am semi-fluent in, such as Russian, Spanish, and French. They're so cheap though that I may extend that plan to include Portuguese and Turkish, even though I don't yet know much of those languages (I know a smattering of Italian, Slovenian, Croatian, Romanian, and even German).
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Re: How to get iTunes to preserve non-ASCII in song titles?

Postby mhschmieder » Sun Nov 06, 2016 10:32 am

Well, I lost my internet again for most of Saturday, until a technician came by this morning and got some wiring issues sorted out on the outside of the house, so I wasn't able to return to this, and now am on a roll with recording, composing, arranging, so I may not come back to this until a weeknight when I only have tiny windows of time anyway.

I think my next eBay Buck certificate will likely be used towards alternative keyboards though, as I'd much prefer that to the cut/paste method of doing non-English characters.

When I worked in the keyboards/monitors/printers division of Digital Equipment in the mid-1980's, one of the things we did was add a "Compose" key on our keyboards, which allowed for multi-stroke characters. So intuitive and easy! It's one of the things I most missed when I had to switch to Microsoft (and later, Apple) ways of doing things.
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