How I name my sound files: tracks, stems, loops, samples, effects etc


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When it comes to a creative activity or process then the last thing you need is an interruption. In that case, an interruption can even be a search for a missing file or not having enough information about what's in your toolbox. That's why I have a system to name my sound files. Mainly to fasten my workflow when trying to make a new mix or messing with a live session.

Track files starting with BPM

Let me ask you a question. Do you remember the tempo of every song you have ever made? I guess you don’t. Me neither. That’s why I started placing the tempo right in front of the filename. But why tempo you might ask. Well, it’s the most important thing when I want to mix my songs together or create a mashup. At first, I made a spreadsheet with all my songs including the tempo, year, length, style and so on. But its too much of a hassle to open the spreadsheet every time I want to check the tempo of a song.

Stem and loop files also starting with BPM

It doesn't need too much of an explanation why I start stem and loop files with beats per minute. It's very common to start drum loop files with BPM but in my case, I do the same with stems. The reason is simple. If I want to create a remix or just mix stems from different songs then it all starts from the tempo. Sometimes I add tempo to effects files too. For example, if the effect sample has some kind of rhythm in it that can be measured by beats per minute.  

I add a beat count to the shorter stems, loops and cuts

Since the beginning, I have had this habit of creating shorter cuts and sections of a track or stem and using them, later on, to build up the track, instead of using one long track/stem file. So, basically, instead of using long stem files I’m using multiple loop files and building the track up with those. I guess I should mention now that I don’t export stems or separate tracks for the mixing and mastering purpose. I’m doing the mixing and mastering on the go. I’m only exporting the final render of all the tracks combined. That’s why I can get away with using shorter loops instead of long stems.

The content of the file in the middle

There is not much to say about naming the content part of the file. Usually, it’s the name of a song. Or if it’s a loop or individual sample then just something that gives an information about the files substance.

Version number or further details after the content

Some files have a version number in them. Some files need an extra information. For example, if it’s a loop made for a certain song then it needs to have an information about what the loop is made of. Is it a drum loop, a bass loop or a lead synth. It needs to be written down in a file name.

Adding date to the filename

I know, information about the file creation and modification is already present in the file's properties. But, sometimes it gets messed up. Especially if the files are 10 years old and have been moving from one device to another. As I like my photo files to have the date added to them, the same goes for sound files. But not all files. It depends on the file and its usage.

The structure of the sound file

To sum it up I’m going to give you five examples of sound file name structure and real-life uses.

Song files

[bpm]-[artist name]-[track name]-[remix/version if needed].[file extension]

126bpm-mess_twice-underground-long_version.wav

Loops

[bpm]-[beat count]-[track name]-[instrument]-[extra info]-[date].[file extension]

168bpm-16b-cosmic_news-drumloop-fat_drums-20141124.wav

Stems

[bpm]-[beat count]-[track name]-[instrument]-[extra info]-[date].[file extension]

130bpm-32b-underground-lead_synth-triange2-20141124.wav

Samples

[category]-[note if applicable]-[content]-[number].[file extension]

synth-c5-wooshy-02.wav

Effects

[bpm if applicable]-[content]-[extra info].[file extension]

rumble-low.wav





Last update: 2018-09-16 (Y,M,D)

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