Should all [silence] tracks be merged into one recording?


Can you get to 100 tracks on a CD? I remember my old CD player in old HiFi only had two digits for the display.

So this is a clever game here where the CD display will be counting up one second at a time. These are engineering tricks due to the media involved. Funny how the annotation notes on the first album listed explain how lazy rippers just skip the silence.

These kinds of engineering games need to be documented. But in this case I could quite easily agree that each of those single second long [silence] tracks are repeats of the same silence. But this is a NiN silence and not the same as other silences.


You cannot simply because the CD format does not allow more than 99 tracks :wink: Hence the players used to have only a two digits display because that’s all that’s needed. Using all 99 tracks is not the uncommon, e.g. The Marilyn Manson release I linked above does exactly the same trickery with filling all the tracks up to the 98th with silence, it just uses 4 second tracks.


I thought that might be the case. Engineering games. Like when we used to run vinyl backwards for the hidden messages.

So what do AcousticBrainz algorithms make of these kinds of silences? If there are dozens of 4 second “silent” tracks on an album, does this then generate the same value with AB?


I see I’m in a minority here. I would merge all digitally silent recordings.

And in my opinion, there can be no artist for silence.

About 4′33″: I think recording of that work would not be silence, but background noise. If the recording was digitally silent, the listener would not be listening the recording, but the background noise. If that noise is not recorded, it is not a recording.

Well, I think digital silence never is a recording.

While I say that, I still think that silence can be (and is) very important. Digitally silent tracks can have titles and track artists, but in my opinion, as they would not really be recordings (as nothing was recorded), they could as well be merged under the same MB recording.

But in my opinion, it wouldn’t be a good idea to just merge recordings marked [silent], as they can as well not be digitally silent.

There seems to be no AcoustID entries for digitally silent tracks (unless incorrectly linked). I tried this myself just now. The [silence] on Turisas: The Varangian Way album provides no AcoustID, while all the other tracks on that album get AcoustIDs when I Analyze them with Picard. But it seems that all the fingerprints for digital silences end with a long spring of letters “A” (based on the lenght of the track), when the actual fingerprint is calculated with fpcalc.


The recordings don’t even have to be digitally silent for them to get no AcoustIDs. I changed one sample of the 18 second recording and it gets the exact same fingerprint, resulting in no AcoustID.


But only if it’s really silence, indeed.


In the linked edit, drsaunde suggests that all [silence] tracks should ultimately be merged to [silence] by [no artist], which makes sense if we were to merge across “artists”.

Trollhunter points out that silent tracks don’t generate acoustids, and the mess that outsidecontext refers to appear to all have been linked in error (and since unlinked, I think after outsidecontext’s post).

I would agree with outsidecontext that any named silence tracks should not be merged.

So that just leaves the question of ISRCs. The single [silence] track could eventually accumulate a lot of ISRCs. Is that a problem? Is there any other metadata that we would want to attach to [silence] that gets lost if all [silence] is one [silence]?


But these are silences chosen by the different artists. They are choosing to perform their own version of nothing. And it should be credited to them as it is on their album.

I wouldn’t really want to see every [silence] now coming up with a fictional [no artist]. I’d rather stick with “artist intent” and have it credited like the show on their own album covers.

Just by the fact that there are all the ISRCs connected to these show that they are seen as different products. Seems strange to me trying to loose details from this database.


One example of an almost silent recording that does have an AcoustID. It is not titled [silence], but I wanted to also provide a not digitally silent, silent recording. It essentially is silence to human hearing, but I used Audacity to amplify it and it is a recording of noise.

I think the recording is supposed to be silence, but as it was an analog recording, there always is noise. The jewel case has AAD on the back cover, that means it was recorded analogically.


Nothing is nothing, there cannot be another version of nothing.

Remember that the track artist would still be the artist on the cover. Only the recording artist would change.


Nothing from nothing leaves nothing…

My impression is that in most of these cases the silent tracks aren’t even listed on the album.


I would note that if all digitally silent recordings were to get merged, the recording should maybe be called [digital silence] or [absolute silence] just for clarity. And it should of course have an annotation about it only being for the digitally silent recordings and that it should not have AcoustIDs (unless the AcoustID specification changes to also include digitally silent recordings).


Different ISRCs do not mean different recordings. New ISRCs are often created for remasters or without any valid reason. I see no problem in having lots of ISRCs on the same recording, if they all belong there.


For the general case I agree, but not here. If a recording that clearly is supposed to be the same gets assigned a new ISRC on e.g. re-release that’s a totally different stories then some random silent tracks that are released by all kinds of artists and labels. There is no connection between them other than that the released tracks happen to be completely silent. I don’t think an engineer thought about “Oh, I will use this one second silence from the NIN album”. Also on e.g. the Marilyn Manson album I linked above all those 4 second silence tracks got the same ISRC. There was clearly at least some thought put into it. Mashing this together with every other recording that happens to be silent will totally muddy the data quality.

I still don’t buy it that you consider a 2 second silence the same as 20 minutes silence. There clearly is a difference that should become obvious when you are actually listening to it.


I can tell the difference between listening to the same recording on an LP vs a CD, but MB treats them as one entity to enable efficient management of metadata. ISRCs seem to be the only applicable metadata here, and I’m having a hard time thinking of benefits of having unique silence tracks with unique ISRCs.


An Artist is not bound by such logic.
Duchamp put forward a ceramic urinal as “art”.
It is “art”.
If a Artist puts forward a digitally silent track as their distinct artistic version of silence then to insist that is not a distinct presentation is to judge what is and is not art. A digital silence can be seen as conceptual or experiential art in ways similar to Cage’s 4’22".


4’22"…that would be the edited version of 4’33" for audiences with shorter attention spans, right?

Do you think that Tool’s 59 tracks of silence represented their distinct artistic version of silence? As opposed to just a way to have the last track numbered 69?


Urinal is not nothing. Digitally silent recording does not contain any audio, therefore it is in my opinion not even a recording (no recorded audio). It must have a recording in MB, but that does not make it an actual recording.


You cannot listen silence. There has to be some audio for you to listen. If you are playing “digitally silent” recording, then you really are listening the background noises.


As far as cataloging them goes I’d treat them as valid artistic expressions. Same as Duchamp’s urinal.

4’22", that was Cage’s follow-up work for the caffiene addicted and time-poor. Widely panned as overly derivative. At least according to the Oxford Guide to Post-truth Classical Music.


You seem to be wanting to restrict art to the reasonable and logical.

Singing of “a square circle” or the mimsiness of the borogroves can be a valid artistic expression.

As can track 46 being digital silence.
You also want to have it that the Artist cannot want the listener to be listening to background noises, or experiencing whatever else is happening during the track. I see such attempts to limit the range of artistic expression as needing very clear arguments as to why MB should take such a approach that is contrary to the understanding of art in the western academic and artistic communities.