User:Symphonick/CSG Work Titles

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Revision as of 10:18, 17 August 2013 by Symphonick (talk | contribs) (reworking part deux)

Status: This page describes an active style guideline proposal and is not official.

Proposal number: RFC-CSG Works part II: Titles
Champion: symphonick
Current status: RFC

JIRA ticket STYLE-232


  1. Try to establish the original title in the original language and use this in the title field.
  2. All other titles should be in aliases.
  3. One catalogue number can be added to the title field, but no other information, except for 4)
  4. See untitled works when there is no explicit title or any lyrics to quote.


The work title field should only contain the title given by the composer, in the language the work was originally written. This is not necessarily the composer's preferred language, also consider if the work was written with a specific performance or audience (country) in mind. See the respective CSG-language pages for how to format language-specific details.
One catalogue number can be added to this title (as a workaround until catalogues can have specific fields).
untitled works, where the composer has only titled the work with a form or a character/tempo (concerto, symphony, allegro etc) have special guidelines, see separate section below.

It is recommended to use printed scores as sources for titles. For example IMSLP have downloadable scans of old music, often early editions and autographs, which is probably the best places to find the original title.
If that is not available, just use the best source you can find. Titles can be corrected later.


In the score the title is usually found at the top of the first page of the score, in a large typeface (see overview below. But in some cases, the full title is only printed on the front page, and the title printed in the actual score is a shorter version.

works score1 beta.png

Note that this is just one example of how a score could look like.

Catalogue numbers

Ideally catalogue should be put in specific fields, but since catalogue numbers are an important part of identifying a work, as a workaround one catalogue number can be appended to the title. If more than one catalogue is used for a work, try to find the most commonly used catalogue.


Part works catalogue

Usually only main works have a catalogue, but note that collections of standalone works (which looks like a main work with parts in MusicBrainz), is treated like standalone works in this regard.


  • Mazurka, op. 17 no. 4

Part numbers

Only part numbers given by the composer may be used in the title field. Do not add your own numbering of parts.


  • Gloria (Mozart: Krönungsmesse)
  • But who may abide (Händel: The Messiah)
  • No. 3. Denn die Herrlichkeit Gottes des Herrn (Händel: The Messiah, "Mozart" arrangement, KV 572)
  • ? No. 4. Recitativo accompagnato ed Aria
    • So spricht der Herr
    • Doch wer mag ertragen den Tag seiner Ankunft

Part ordering

Unfortunately there is currently no ordering system available in MusicBrainz. Until a solution is in place, the disambiguation field can be used if necessary; e.g. "Allegro (1st mvt)" vs. "Allegro (3rd mvt).

Other titles

Titles not by the composer should be in aliases. This includes:

  • "Modern" titles, when the original title by the composer is rarely used
  • Nicknames, such as "Moonlight Sonata" (more common with untitled works)
  • Translated titles, such as "The Firebird" and "Christmas Oratorio". Only use existing translations, do not enter your own.
  • Works that have both a title by the composer and a generic version of the title (that can contain ordering numbers not in the original title)

As there can be only one primary alias per language; try to find the standard title for your specific language. More titles can be entered as secondary aliases.
Using the disambiguation field, can be problematic since these titles are often local, while the disambiguation field is global. E.g. a French nickname is usually translated, if it exists at all in English.


  • Méditation sur le Premier Prélude de Piano de S. Bach. by Bach/Gounod alias (all languages): Ave Maria
  • Passio Domini Nostri J.C. Secundum Evangelistam Matthaeum by J.S. Bach German alias: Matthäus-Passion
  • Москва, Черемушки, Op. 105 by D. Schostakovich, English alias: Moscow, Cheryomushki, Op. 105
  • Sonata quasi una fantasia, Op. 27 No. 1 by Beethoven English alias: Piano Sonata No. 13 in Eb-flat major, Op. 27 No. 1
  • Sonata quasi una fantasia, Op. 27 No. 2 by Beethoven English search hint alias: Moonlight Sonata
  • Konzert in C, K. 467 by W.A. Mozart English search hint alias: Elvira Madigan
  • Всенощное бдение, op. 37 by S. Rachmaninoff English search hint alias: Vespers

It is expected that eventually, both a title (alias) in the user's preferred language AND the default work title can be shown in the UI.

Other information from the score

The information from the categories below should not be added to the title field for titled works (use the annotation if necessary), but can be useful when dealing with untitled works.


Ex. "for flute and piano", "for strings" etc.

Tempo / character

Ex. allegro, moderato, slow.

Key / Modus

Ex. "G-Dur", "en Si bemol", "A-flat major" etc. See the CSG-language pages for details.


The subtitle can contain a number of different things related to the music, usually you will find a description of the instrumentation, form, or even key and/or opus. Many times this line is added by the editor.

Examples of what can be printed as subtitle:

  • Foxtrot for orchestra (from Nixon in China)
  • Торжественная увертюра (1812)
  • in G minor, S. 1001 (Bach's Violin Sonata)
  • Komponiert 1851 (Schumann: Violin sonata)
  • Épisode de la vie d'un Artiste ... en cinq parties (Berlioz: Symphony Fantastique)

For untitled works, subtitles can occasionally be used as printed or with only a slight modification (ex. "Sonate für Arpeggione und Pianoforte"). Other times, it can be taken as an indication of what perhaps should be included in the title (e.g. key and catalogue for the Bach example above) and in what language the original title should be.


Ex. "Dem Grafen Ferdinand von Waldstein gewidmet". Sometimes found above the title, sometimes below, or just on the front page.

Vocal music


Especially in older vocal music, the title can be made up of (a part of) the first line in the lyrics. Do not use quotation marks, and try to find a good source for the length of the quote if not available in the score.


Quotes and multiple sections


Works with translated lyrics (as opposed to works with only a translated title) should have the specific translation as default language.

Dramatic roles

Roles (e.g. Evangelista, Carmen)

Excerpt works

(See for an explanation)
Try to find the most commonly used title, in the same language as the lyrics. A quote from the lyrics is usually better than a descriptive title, e.g. use "Treulich geführt" rather than "Brautchor aus Lohengrin".

Note Note: For primary aliases a descriptive title (e.g. "Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin" in English) may be preferred.

Untitled works

Instrumental music and some vocal music from before the 20th century often has no actual title. Instead these works are referred to using their form and/or instrumentation (ex. sonata, quartet, mass, symphony, cello concerto), sometimes with key. Untitled works should be listed in the language in which the work was originally titled by the composer.

Note Note: This is only for untitled works, otherwise the type of work (e.g. aria, sonata, trio) is stored in the work type field, not in the title.

Generic titles by the composer

If a composer has titled a work using (among other words) the form, this work is not untitled, even if the work also can be described using form/instrumentation/key.
An "untitled" version of the title can be added as an alias.


  • Ouvertüre nach Französischer Art, BWV 831
  • Sonata quasi una fantasia, Op. 27 No. 2

Untitled vocal works

Only main works of vocal music can be "untitled". Works with lyrics always have titles, see quotes above. If work with lyrics has no distinct title, a quote from the lyrics will be used, see below.


  • Mass
  • Requiem
  • No. 4. Recitativo accompagnato ed Aria

Standard untitled works formats

  • Form(s)
  • Part number. Form
  • Form key
  • Form instrumentation
  • Form instrumentation key
  • Form instrumentation number key

All the above combinations can also have one catalogue number.

Other combinations are possible but unusual.



If and what to append to the basic form depends entirely on the context. Try to follow convention, the title field should not be used to put in general information (like keys and instrumentation) when it is not needed for disambiguation and it is how you usually would refer to this work.
For instance, if a composer only wrote one concerto for a specific instrument, ex. cello, that concerto would likely be known simply as that composer's cello concerto, the key would not be used in the title.
A prelude by J.S. Bach is often referred to by key (ex. "Prelude in d-minor") while a prelude from an instrumental suite is usually referred to as the "prelude from the G-major suite", as an example.

Instrumentation for untitled works

Certain untitled works need basic information about instrumentation, mostly concertos and sonatas. How the instrumentation should be formatted depends on the conventions for the language in question, see the CSG-language pages. E.g. a literal translation of "Quartet for Strings" will not work for every language, perhaps the form "String quartet" is more appropriate. It could also differ between different forms & ensemble constellations for the same language.

The title field should use the original instrumentation, e.g. "pianoforte". Aliases can have "modern" instruments.


  • Violinkonzert e-Moll op. 64 by Felix Mendelssohn
  • Sonate pour violoncelle
  • Sonate pour violoncelle et piano
  • Koncert for klaver og orkester, Op. 16 by Edvard Grieg


Keys in untitled works

For certain generic-titled works, the key is used as an identifier and should be added to the title. This is a workaround until there is a specific field for keys, in which case keys will be removed from all titles.

Try to follow convention; ex. you can have a standalone "Minuet in g", but you would never list keys for minuets inside a symphony.
Untitled symphonies, sonatas, masses and concertos very often have the key as identifier for the main work. In general, only main works have keys.


Tempo / character for untitled works

It is common for untitled works to have only tempo or character as title; ex. Allegro, Slow. This is most common for sub-parts of pre-20th century concertos, sonatas and symphonies.

Only use the first tempo in the title field, do not list tempo changes inside the work. A second tempo can be used if a work is divided into different sections by the composer, e.g. Menuet - Trio. Or for instance in Beethoven's piano sonatas, when there is a short introduction in a slower tempo than the main part of the movement. These type of works are usually referred to with both tempi outside MusicBrainz too.

Note Note: The final part of multi-part works is often listed with both "Finale" and tempo, e.g. "Finale: Allegro". This formatting should not be used anywhere else; tempo information is separate from titles and does not belong in the title field.
Note Note: You should not translate a tempo marking (possibly transliterate). If you believe it is helpful, you can enter a translated tempo as a search hint (secondary alias).

Untitled works without tempo marking

If a part work is without tempo marking, you should use [untitled] in the title field.

Old practices

  • You should not manually concatenate main work and part work titles like the old track titles in MusicBrainz before NGS. Note that you must always link the sub-part to the main work, otherwise it would be impossible to know where a work with a generic title (ex. "Allegro") belongs.
  • Do not add ordering numbers to part works (common in the old track titles). See [#Multi-part works| Multi-part works] above.