The choice of genres in the Id3 tag struck me as being not only incomplete, but largely unaware its own bias.

The first time I dropped down that dropdown, I was prompted to distinguish between goth, industrial and goth-industrial. We can, in this byte distinguish between techno, euro-techno and trance. I find some of those boundaries hard enough to distinguish when listening.

But we cannot distinguish between baroque and romantic. Both are presumably gouped as classical, desipite the classical music scholars having long-ago agreed where to place each composition. The inclusion of duet, symphony and sonata is also a category error. This describes the form not the genre of the music. One could imagine a Punk sonata, a rock and roll fugue or a drum & bass duet.

When it came to categorising other material, they did not even have the catch-all cop-out term of world music. I wasn't expecting the makers of that listing to have the wherewithall to distinguish marabi from kwaito from kwela from mbqanga, but they could have at least grouped them all under, say african-jazz-pop.

It seems that their musical experience didn't even stretch to acknowledging the existence of this family of genres, but does dwell on the differences between techno-industrial, industrial and goth-industrial. A portrait of the list-maker emerges.

The whole concept of genre is problematic. Assigning genre to creative works is at best a form of historical hindsight or labelling. At worst it is an arbitrary guess. Many artist do not like to be pinned down to a particular genre, or reject the tag that they have been given.

The boundaries, for instance, between goa and psychedelic trance or between psychedelic trance and techno and trance are fluid and open to interpretation Anyway, new genres surface every year.

IMHO the genre is best represented as a string not a numeric code. I am informed that later versions of the tag support this as an option.

But ariels points out, this introduces a whole new set of problems in the form of vauge, missing, mispelled or wrong clasifications. But what else can we do?