User:DavitoF/Classical Music FAQ

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This page answers Frequently Asked Questions about the entry, editing and formatting of classical music recordings. Note that this page is less scrupulously edited than the actual style guides, so in case of conflict between the contents of this FAQ with a style guide, the style guide rules!

If can't find what you need in this documentation, please find us in one of the MusicBrainz Forums or via the contact page. If you would like to update the content of this page on the wiki, feel free to do so but please do not add questions without answers.


Where are the style guidelines for classical music?

They are in the Classical Style Guide

What do I do if I disagree with the Classical Style Guide or have found something that doesn't appear to be covered?

Bring it up on the Users Mailing List or the Style Mailing List.

Does MusicBrainz handle classical music in a special way?

It depends. The Classical Style Guide describes how we specifically handle the data for classical music, but for the most part, classical is handled like any kind of music. Anyway MusicBrainz allows you to specify a huge number of additional information about soloists, orchestras, conductor and so on via Advanced Relationships .

What is the aim of the Classical Style Guide?

The aim is to impose some kind of order on how data should be entered in some ambiguous situations (for example, who should be the Release Artist?)

So should the Release Artist be the performer or the composer?

Like in other kinds of music, you should use the artists (composers and / or performers) which are on the cover. See Classical Release Artist

What about the Recording Artist?

You should use the performers for that recording. See Classical Recording Artist

What about the Track Artist?

You should use the composers of the work performed in that track. See Classical Track Artist

Putting the composer in the Track Artist field means that the tagger uses that for ID3 artist! This is against the ID3v2 spec. Why do it?

Although the ID3v2 spec does say that artist is for 'Lead artist/Lead performer/Soloist/Performing group' most pieces of software will only use this field and ignore the composer ID3 field. With classical you are usually more interested in the composer of a work than the performer.

If you really want to follow the spec, the following tagger script snippet should work:

<code>$copymerge(artist,$performer(pattern="(?!orchestra)", join=", "))
$copymerge(albumartist,$performer(pattern="orchestra",join=", "))</code>

(Yes, the tag that the ID3 spec says should be the “Band/Orchestra/Accompaniment” frame is generally used by players for the album artist)

So is MusicBrainz no use for classical music at the moment?

Not at all. Many people use MusicBrainz to organize their collections and it does a great job of identifying tracks. The metadata in the MusicBrainz database is still incomplete but it is improving.

You can use the Advanced Relationships of Musicbrainz NGS to store classical tags in your files by enabling “Track Relationships” in Picard (Options→Options…→Metadata→Use track relationships). (Version 1.0 or higher recommended) Picard tags composers, conductors, arrangers, lyricists, and performers. And with Picard’s scripting support, you can configure artists however you want. Want your track artists to be the performers? You can do that.

See this release for a typical example of a classical release with all details filled in.

What can I do to help?

  • Vote on classical edits. Subscribe to composers and performers that you know something about and you will get an email when someone makes a change. Pick your favourite composer and get a futile sense of achievement in keeping your section up to date. ;-)
  • Have a quick read of the Classical Style Guide to get an idea how to format classical entries. Although several sections are outdated, Classical Entries That Need Editing contains at least one list which is still relevant: typos.
  • Help in adding artists to those releases that haven't got this info included. See below for a good way to find out this info if you don't know the performer info
  • If you have classical CDs then identify them using the tagger and if you can find them in the database add the missing performer info so other people can identify their tracks more easily. Without info about performers there is little hope of distinguishing one classical release from another. Just look up to see where this leads!
  • Find tracks/recordings which are not linked to a work, and create the relevant works if they are missing.
  • Link sub-parts of works to their main entries like this example
  • Tell other classical buffs about MusicBrainz and get them involved!

How to find out the performer for a release that has this info missing?

Obviously, if you have the CD to hand it is easy to add this info. Use a MusicBrainz aware tagger to match your CD to the entry in the MusicBrainz database and edit the MusicBrainz entry to add in the name of the orchestra/conductor etc. (taking care to read the Classical Style Guide)

If you want to help clean up existing entries then the process is a bit harder. If the release title is simply 'Carmina Burana' then it could be one of thousands of versions.

  • Some online stores list track times. If these match up close enough then you can identify the CD.
  • If the track titles have been spelt or formatted in an unusual way then googling this can identify the CD.
  • If there is more than one piece of music on the CD this can drastically narrow down the possibilities. For instance there might only be a couple of CD's released that contain both Carmina Burana and excepts from Orff's Schulwerk...

Another method that sometimes works is this:

  1. Go to the release page and click on the "Disc IDs" tab.
  2. Click one of the disc IDs.
  3. Copy the FreeDB ID (something like this: 3208c105) and add it to the end of this url:
  4. For instance this gives us the URL:
  5. Jumping to the above URL shows us a FreeDB page that helpfully has some extra info on it. In this case the orchestra and conductor...
  6. This doesn't always work as it depends on the FreeDB entry having the extra info. I'm not sure how common this is...

I'm lost in the terms used when not in my language. Is there any reference somewhere?

Yes, Musical Terms Translations should help you sorting this out, whether you just need to decipher a title, or intend to do some editing.