Testing out Amarok 2.4.3’s Dynamic Playlists

The Amarok Dynamic Playlist DJ Monster
The Amarok Dynamic Playlist DJ Monster is responsible for building your dynamic playlist

I’ve spoken about Amarok’s Dynamic Playlists before.  Despite my best attempts, I couldn’t quite get it to work correctly.  However, Amarok 2.4.3 has revamped the dynamic playlists engine and interface, so I wanted to check it out and see if it worked better as well as testing out some of the new features.  For one thing, they changed the interface to more closely match the interface for static playlists.  See:

 

Amarok 2.4.3 - new dynamic interface
Amarok 2.4.3 - new dynamic interface

 

And while I like the fact that it better matches with the other way of making auto-playlists, it also is much clearer what you’re constructing (even die-hard Amarok fans couldn’t accurately describe what would happen with the old method), and you can create more complex lists with ands/ors, it doesn’t quite invite as much play and experimentation as the old implementation with the sliders.  So I decided to start off with a newer dynamic playlist (although it may have existed before 2.4.3) called Quiz mode.  That name is a bit misleading, but once you understand where it comes from, it makes sense.  Remember that quiz (my family used to play it on road trips) where you select a subject (say states or countries) and the first person names a country and the second person has to think of a country that starts with the last letter of the first country?  For example: Germany -> Yugoslavia.  So Amarok can do that with artist name, track name, and album name.  I created one for track name.

 

My Quiz Playlist Parameters
My Quiz Playlist Parameters

 

And here’s the playlist it produced:

 

Quiz Playlist
Quiz Playlist

So, in practice it’s just another random listen mode, only it’s not random, it’s procedural.  I’m sure you could probably have some fun seeding it with a track and then seeing how many times that diverges to another playlist.  Interestingly (and a good thing, I think) it ignores parenthesis.  See:

 

Amarok - Quiz Dynamic Playlist ignores parenthesis
Amarok - Quiz Dynamic Playlist ignores parenthesis

 

Afterwards I tried the last.fm similar artists.  Either I have too much obscure music or that engine needs more work.  Here’s what I got over two tries:

 

Amarok - last.fm similar artists?
Amarok - last.fm similar artists? They don't seem that similar to me

 

Amarok - similar artists - 2
Again, not that similar

 

ACTUALLY!  It turns out that I still had the other dynamic playlist active.  You need to double-click on the one you want active.  It’ll look like this:

 

Amarok 2.4.3 - NOW similar artists is active
Amarok 2.4.3 - NOW similar artists is active

 

I started of with Louis Jordan.  I clicked repopulate and nothing happened.  So I waited for the song to end.  Nothing.  Maybe I need a more prominent artist?  I try Bjork.  It still doesn’t work.  Weird.  Ah, I see.  The “similar artists” that Amarok finds (when I go to the similar artists widget) are all artists I don’t have.  I’ll try DC Talk next.  OK, I definitely have artists that match last.fm’s similar artist.  I hit repopulate.  Nothing.  I must really be misunderstanding how this works.  I’ll try switch from artist to track in the playlist.

 

Ok, so now it was it time to see if I could recreate the playlist I originally wanted back them.  Unplayed songs with a rating of 0.  Looks like that worked correctly.  That would allow me to listen to all of my music without repeating.  If I skip a song, it still has zero plays, but it will now have a score, that’s the reason for the second, seemingly redundant, parameter.  Just a few songs in, there’s already a song with 3 plays and score of 91.  I’m not quite sure why that’s occurred.  Here’s what my dynamic playlist looks like:

 

Amarok doesn't listen to this
Amarok doesn't listen to this

 

And the next song has 4 plays and 93 score.  Hopefully someone in the comments can tell me what’s going on here.  Other than that, I’m pretty happy with the new dynamic playlist and Amarok seems, on the whole to be less crashy.  (As well as no longer causing plasma to crash, although I’m not 100% sure about that)

8 thoughts on “Testing out Amarok 2.4.3’s Dynamic Playlists

  1. Hi,

    I had a look at that final playlist for you, and the problem is that if a track hasn’t been played, then the score tag isn’t 0, it’s not set.

    Therefore, you need to set your biases to playcount:0 and Not score:>0 (i.e., check the invert condition box and set the condition to greater than 0). This will match tracks which have a zero playcount and a score which is either 0 or not set.

    Hope this helps!

    Sam Lade
    Amarok developer

  2. Hi Eric,
    I am the one responsible for changing the dynamic playlists and it feels good to get positive feedback.
    I have been getting a lot of heat from people who think that it is still to complex.

    Regarding your problem with the score/playcount.
    You can use the “search” bias instead of having two biases.
    First you do a normal search in your collection and if that finds the tracks you like you can just copy that. You won’t need two biases (actually three with the AND bias).
    It’s even a little faster.

  3. So I installed Amarok for windows and I’m running into a really weird problem. Whenever a track with a Japanese tittle comes up in the playlist, Amarok just skips it.

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