Ripping your CDs

There is no quick and easy way to transfer your music from your CDs (“rip”) to your computer, but this is a most important process.  What you can do is set this process up separate from you work, so it can proceed out of your way, and you can insert the next CD whenever one is finished.  To do this you need an extra computer – any old junker will do, if it has a CD drive.  This is one of the many uses for an extra old computer, and if you don’t happen to have one, you can buy one from for a couple hundred dollars.

I use iTunes for ripping, because it has such good indexing, and the data is easily editable.  You may want to add information about each group of songs as you rip it, such as where and when you obtained the CD, or notes on damaged condition.  What is vital for each song is the year it was recorded, and the tempo (in bpm).  For the year, I keep the Encyclopedia of Tango by Gabriel Valiente handy; it’s tedious to search through it, but it is complete and accurate for all tango recordings, and if the original recording dates are not on the CD, it is necessary to obtain them somewhere.

Dancers are sensitive to the tempo of dance music.  My tandas are made of songs with similar tempo (as well as same band, same singer, same period, same mood, and, for Juan D’Arienzo, the same pianist). If you have multiple recordings of the same tango, with different tempi, you may need to play the one the dancers know.  If you build tandas with increasing energy on each song, tempo is a major indicator of energy – and the one which is easily measured and recorded.  I always use Musebook Metronome to measure tempo by tapping the spacebar; I have found the programs which calculate tempo to be wildly inaccurate.  And I store tempo in the comments column because the BPM column is not easily editable.  Yes, it’s tedious starting out, but once you’re on a roll it becomes quick and automatic.

iTunes indexes by name, artist, album, bpm (“comment”), genre, rating, grouping (which I use for other playlists where it was played).  iTunes also stores equalizer settings, volume adjustments, and start and stop time adjustments.  All of these fields are vital for me, when I’m looking for the right song to complete a tanda, and I would not try to DJ with any of them blank for my “A List” music.  For all the junk music, which I may never play, I may store it with a bare minimum of data – until I decide to use it.

As a DJ, I have a dedicated computer for music, and an identical computer, with a mirror image of music and software, as a backup (within arm’s reach when I DJ). I copy a lot of the music to my other computers, for other uses, but between DJ and backup computers I maintain exact images.