How To Create A Cue Sheet
By on March 17th, 2010

On Tuesday, we talked about splitting large music tracks into smaller ones with the help of cue files. I’d mention that I’ll soon write a tutorial on creating a cue sheet yourself. True to my word, here’s the tutorial on creating a cue sheet with your own hands!

For a quick recap A cue sheet has an extension of .cue and its contents tell the splitting program where each individual track starts and ends.In technical terms It’s a metadata file which describes how the contents of a CD, DVD or a compilation are to be laid out.

So, let’s say you have a music mix called Junkyard Mix.mp3. It’s music mix containing all the tracks interlocked. There’s no cue file available so you just can’t use a cue splitter and split the file as easily. You’ll now need to create a cue sheet.

Creating a cue sheet is pretty simple. There are a few commands/tags you’ll need to take care of and the syntax is simple. Just like many other scripts, you’ll need to create this one in a text editor; for example Notepad. I will first go through the tags and will then explain with an example.

TITLE: This tag is used two occasions. Once while mentioning the name of the album and the second time when you mention the title of an individual track. In the former case, the tag is used in the beginning of the document; in the latter, it is used after that TRACK tag

PERFORMER: Once used to define the artist of the album as a whole and second time after the TRACK tag to define the artist of an individual track.

FILE: Defines the name of the compilation file, from where to derive the data (Junkyard Mix.mp3 in this case)

TRACK: Defines a track by its number and data type. Other tags that define the track are placed under it in the hierarchy.

INDEX: Indicates the start position within the data where a given track begins, in MM:SS:FR (minute-second-frame) format (for example, 04:18:63 = 4 minutes, 18 seconds, 63 frames).

That covers the rudimentary tags of a cue sheet. That’s probably all you will need to get started. Now let have it with an example. Let’s say Junkyard Mix.mp3, the album, is composed of two individual tracks: Grease Sweep and Burning Tires. Let’s say the album’s artist is Johny Wrench. (Don’t google them! They’re all hypothetical :D) This is how the cue sheet should be laid out in this scenario:

2967338475_bc48bd8d93_bTITLE Junkyard Mix

PERFORMER Johny Wrench

FILE Junkyard Mix.mp3MP3

TRACK 01 AUDIO

TITLE Grease Sweep

PERFORMER Johny Wrench

INDEX 01 00:00:00

TRACK 02 AUDIO

TITLE Burning Tires

PERFORMER Johny Wrench

INDEX 01 12:42:00

Let’s go through it again. The TITLE track at the beginning marks the name of the album. The next PERFORMER tag marks the name of the album artist. FILE is for the file name of the compilation. Next we have definitions the comprising tracks. TRACK 01 AUDIO marks the definition of the first track. It says that the first track’s track number is 01 and its data type is audio. It then goes on to define the TITLE of the song and its PERFORMER in the respective tags. The second track has also been handled in the same way. The INDEX tag tells the program where the song is beginning.

The first track always begins at 00:00:00. You’ll have to mark the beginnings of each track so that you can define the correct beginning and therefore, ending of each song. It is crucial that your timing is correct or the results won’t be appealing.

After everything is done, save the document with a .cue extension and then use it to split the music compilation with the help of this tutorial.

Photo by Dani Sarda

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Author: Keshav Khera
Keshav Khera is a young freelance writer from India. Alongside writing for the web, he also attends school and tries not to bunk classes. He keeps interest in music, table tennis, reading and of course, twitter (@keshav)

Keshav Khera has written and can be contacted at keshav@techie-buzz.com.
  • Someone who needed a

    Thanks for this guide – really helped me out =) It's a little pedestrian (couln't find a cuesheet maker for mac) but works as it should.

  • Robert

    Hey Keshav. I am looking for help in a slightly different manner. I have downloaded a “live” album consisting of 10 separate mp3s (or flac). when i burn the mp3s, there is a gap when playing back, so rather than a continuous live CD, i have a CD with 10 live tracks. Can I use a cue sheet to “connect” the 10 tracks, retaining the individual songs, but removing the gap between tracks?

    • http://keshav.tumblr.com Keshav

      Hi Robert.

      I’m not aware of any method by which you can connect tracks using a cue file.

      If you want to remove the “silence” from the beginning and the ends of the tracks, you could use something like Audacity to edit the files and save them again (using the LAME mp3 encoder, if you need the exported files in mp3). This way you can delete the silence.

      You can also use Audacity to join all the tracks together and make a mix.

 
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