User:Symphonick/CSG Work Titles

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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: pre-RFC


The name of a classical work should be recorded in MB as it exists in print from a reliable source, such as a recent urtext edition. A title by a classical composer is no different from a title of any other work, and should in general not be modified.
See "language" below regarding translations, and "worktype as title" for works with generic titles.

If you don't have access to the best edition, just use the best source you can find. The title can be corrected later.

Archaic titles

There are a small number of cases where the original title is never used. Use the "modern" title in the composer's language. A recent edition will likely have the title you want.
E.g. use "Matthäus-Passion" instead of the original "Passio Domini Nostri J.C. Secundum Evangelistam Matthaeum".


The "lyrics language" field should be set to title language when there are no lyrics.
If a work is available with translated titles and it is unclear which is the original, use the language of the first performance (if the work was written with a specific performance or audience in mind). If this fails, use the composer's preferred language.

See the respective CSG-language pages for how to format language-specific details. Also see "work type as title" below for untitled / generic titled works.

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


There can be only one primary alias per language; try to find the standard translation for your specific language.
You can enter more secondary aliases as searching help (common misspellings etc.).

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


Remember that nicknames are local. They are not by the composer, and should therefore only be used in aliases.

Note Note: There is a possibility that there will be a specific field for nicknames eventually.

Catalogue numbers

Catalogue numbers are separated from titles and should be put in the specific fields or advanced attributes
Since catalogue numbers are an important part of identifying a work, as a temporary workaround one catalogue number can be added to the title. If more than one catalogue is used for a work, try to find the most commonly used catalogue.

Multi-part works

One work can contain several layers of parts, though usually not more than three; e.g. Opera - Act - Part or Cantata - Part - Part.

Part work titles should not inherit the title of the parent work, like the old track titles in MusicBrainz.

Part ordering

Part numbers are not a part of the title, use the specific field.
Unfortunately there 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)".

Work type

The type of work (e.g. Aria, Sonata, Trio) is stored in the work type field, not inside the title.

Work type as title

Works that only have a work type / form as identifier (e.g. Sonata, Quartetto), here called "generic" or "untitled" works, should be listed in the composer's preferred language. Usually only the first sub-section of a work should be listed, but exceptions can be made when a work is divided into different sections by the composer, e.g. Menuet - Trio.

Note Note: All forms are not translated in every language, e.g. Mazurka.


Instrumentation should be specified with advanced attributes or a specific field.
Until this is available, certain generic works need information about solo instruments in the title, mostly concertos and sonatas. Be aware that direct translations of instrumentation is not always an option. E.g. a literal translation of "Quartet for Strings" will not work for every language, perhaps the form "String quartet" is more appropriate.

Tempo / Character

Musicbrainz has currently no field for storing the tempo of a work. The annotation can be used for this purpose.

Tempo as title

Tempo can be used as title when the work has no title except tempo or character; e.g. Allegro, Slow. This is common for movements of generic works, like sonatas and concertos. Note that you should not translate tempi (possibly transliterate). If you believe a translated alias is needed as search help, that alias should not be official.

Only use the first tempo in the title field, do not list tempo changes inside the work. A second tempo can be used if it describes a major section, 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.

Key / Modus

Should be put in the "key" field.
Until this field is available, use the annotation for keys. Also see below.

Keys in generic titled works (temporary workaround)

(see Work type as title above) For certain generic-titled works, the key is an important identifier and should be added to the title. Examples of such works include symphonies, sonatas, preludes, fugues. Try to follow convention; a composer can write a standalone "Minuet in g", but you would never put the key in the title of a minuet inside a symphony by the same composer.
When a key field is available, keys should be removed from all titles.


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.

Dramatic roles

Roles (e.g. Evangelista, Carmen) should be listed in a specific field.
Until this field is available, use the annotation.


MusicBrainz does not support sub-titles. If you believe the sub-title is useful for searching, put it in a secondary alias. Otherwise use the annotation. Ex. title: Nixon in China, subtitle: Foxtrot for orchestra; and title: 1812, subtitle: Торжественная увертюра

Convenience / pseudo works

Bridal chorus from Lohengrin etc. Try to find the most commonly used title, in the same language as the lyrics.


Title Worktype Lyrics Language
Carmen Opera French
Москва, Черемушки, Op. 105 Opera Russian
Overture Overture No linguistic content
1812, op. 49 Overture No linguistic content
Ouvertüre nach Französischer Art, BWV 831 Suite No linguistic content
Ouverture Overture No linguistic content
Ouverture g-Moll, BWV 822 Suite No linguistic content