History:Advanced Relationships Free Text Qualifiers Proposal
The advanced relationship qualifiers proposal
We currently index Release credits via AdvancedRelationships and within those, AdvancedRelationshipAttributes. The problem with this is that EVERY credit needs its own indexed relationship, and were a user to attempt to add something that wasn't in the system, they'd either have to let it go through the usual ChecklistForStyleChanges, ignore it and only credit information they can enter, or credit it under something else.
Even if the process of adding new ARs was easier/faster, we'd still be left with the impossible task of indexing every possible musical credit, and even then we wouldn't be able to go to the level of detail featured on some liner notes (eg, "Ebow on 6 String Guitar Tuned to AFAFAF"), or indeed represent the intersting aliases some musicians give to their instruments (eg, "Icy Inverted Crosswinds Upon Four String Zamboni" = bass).
Besides, would we even want to be able to index this level of information? The great thing about ARs is that we can get a nice read-out of every time ArtistA has performed guitar on a track, but were we to index every different type of guitar credit they had, we'd end up with a fractured and ultimately useless list.
But there is another way...
Free-text qualifiers (FTQs)
I propose we allow the input of an FTQ during the application of an AR to a track. These would be displayed on Release pages in brackets after the AR role descriptor. Eg: "Rock Song has additional guest electric guitar (Gibson SG) performed by Joe Bloggs". I'm not sure how to show them on Artist pages, but perhaps it would be wise to sort them such that the ARs with the same FTQ would be listed together, within all other instances of the regular AR.
- "Gibson SG" would be input using 'electric guitar' via the InstrumentRelationshipAttribute, but the model name ("Gibson Sg") could be the FTQ.
- "Icy Inverted Crosswinds Upon Four String Zamboni" would be input using 'electric bass guitar' via the InstrumentRelationshipAttribute, but the alias ("Icy Inverted Crosswinds Upon Four String Zamboni") could be the FTQ.
- "Engineer at Sun Studios" would be input using EngineerRelationshipType, but the fact that s/he was the engineer at Sun Studios could be the FTQ (just "Sun Studios" should suffice).
This should NOT be used to show what tracks a credit appears on. Adding ARs to specific track ranges is something that, at the time of writing, cannot be done. It should be made clear that the FTQ is not for this purpose.
Where's the line between new AR and FTQ of existing AR?
Good question! I think this is best decided by working out whether or not it would be useful to index a particular credit separate. Eg, if "Siberian Hamster Gong" only features on one known release, then there's no use in having the database understand it as a unique credit. On the other hand, even if a credit is common (eg "Gibson SG"), it might not neccesarily be seen as worth indexing as a separate entity to the existing meta-AR (in this case the electric Guitar attribute of InstrumentRelationshipAttribute).
In time it might be decided that credit X is worth being a unique AR, and those credits which have been input as FTQs of another AR could be scripted to the new one (where possible - obviously difficult as the same role might not have been input in the same way across different releases). This also applies vice versa - AR Y might be later seen to be not worth a separate AR, so it could be scripted to a FTQ of an existing AR.
Generally, I'd say the following are classic cases for AR:
- Unique roles that cannot reasonably be catagorised under existing ARs (excluding one-offs)
- Neccesary splits to massively wide-reaching metacatgories (eg 'Flute' is needed rather than having it as an FTQ to 'Woodwind')
...and the following are classic cases for FTQs:
- Brand & model names of instruments
- Playing styles (eg Violin and Fiddle are the same instrument, but credited differently depending on the playing style, therefore they should be both credited using the Violin AR, but with a "Fiddle" FTQ where appropriate)
- Trivia (eg "Guitar during Chorus" would be an AR of "Guitar" and an FTQ of "During Chorus")
- One-off roles (eg "Siberian Hamster Gong" :) )
- Ambiguous roles (eg "Water Noise" would need to be entered as PerformerRelationshipType but with a qualifer saying "Water Noise", unless the user had any further info on what this actual means)
Should this proposal be made live, I would suggest keeping the ARs as we have them, and allow FTQs for all. Perhaps some of the more abstract/rare ARs could be switched to a FTQ further down the line.
A case study
Forgive me for mentioning The Database Who Cannot Be Named, but http://www.discogs.com uses a similar system for indexing credits (though at discogs, ALL credits are indexed via free-text fields, and it is the database that indexes and sorts those which it understands, rather than the user chosing them from a list). It is useful to read http://help.discogs.com/wiki/SubmissionGuidelinesCredits to see how they do it.