Arrangers as track artists in classical releases

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Hi! A while ago I came across this edit removing arrangers from track artists in a classical release. @finalsummer does of course have a point - the current track artist guideline has no mention of arrangers at all, and just says “The Track Artist field should contain just the composer; not the performer(s)”.

It’s my understanding that a fair amount of editors do add arrangers to the track artist when they are given a similar prominence on the tracklist as the composer is (so, in cases like “Mussorgsky, orch. Ravel: Pictures at an Exhibition” or “Bach, arr. Busoni: Chaconne in D minor”). I think that makes a lot of sense, but we really should codify it as a guideline of some sort if we want to do it :slight_smile: So some questions here:

  1. Should we list arrangers as part of the track artist? And if so:
    a) Should we list arrangers if they’re listed on the release at all?
    b) Should we list arrangers only if they’re listed at a similar level of importance as the composers?

  2. If we decide to list them, should we normalize how arrangers are listed, or should we just try and follow whatever the release does?
    a) Do we keep “Bach arr. Busoni”, “Bach / Busoni”, etc just as-is?
    b) Do we consistently use “Bach / Busoni”? (that’s what I’ve been doing, personally)
    c) Do we consistently use a more descriptive option such as “Bach arr./orch./trans./ Busoni”? This seems like a valid option too and I know some editors prefer it - my only worry with it is it’s quite language-dependent.

In any case, I’d like to see proper discussion about how to best do this :slight_smile:


The classical track guideline says “If there is more than one composer involved on the track, try to find out how the work is usually credited.” That implies that individual releases tracklisting isn’t important, but rather how the work is viewed at large. I don’t have any reservations about following either, but that should probably be revised.

I’m under the opinion that arrangers should not be listed as track artists, which most editors seem to follow. If they should be listed, I would use the same standardized[1] comma list way of crediting them as multiple composers, i.e. Bach, Busoni. I really don’t like using custom separators like arr./orch. etc, the punctuation should preferably be language independent. A slash is fine too, I guess.

[1] Is this actually standardized? There’s no mention of separating punctuation in the track artist guideline and I think this should also be clarified. It has “François Rebel, François Francœur” as the only example of multiple artists, so I have always used this.

I have two CDs with Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” and the orchestrator is credited somewhat differently:
In this example, the orchestrator seems to be ETI for the composition title:

While in this example the orchestrator, in my view, is credited along with the composer:

I never really thought about how to include the orchestrator/arranger until this thread came up. I suppose my initial reaction would be to hold to what I feel is MB’s overarching guideline of “as presented,” so the first example would be "Pictures at an Exhibition (orch. Ravel)" by Modest Mussorgsky and the second would be "Pictures at an Exhibition" by "Mussorgsky (orch. Maurice Ravel)"

My second reaction disagrees with that, but only because of what I know about the work. “Pictures” was composed by Mussorgsky for the piano. It wasn’t until 40+ years after his death that Ravel orchestrated it. So it isn’t really a collaboration between the two artists in my mind, but two versions of the work. It seems to me that the orchestration is more relevant to identifying the version of the work than to the artist credit, which leads me to think it should be documented that way. But that’s unlikely to be true in all cases.

My general idea is to avoid ever having the artists in the title because the artist fields are where artists belong (same reasoning why we moved featured artists off the title to the artist field, even when they are printed as part of the title on the releases).


Yes, IMO. If the printed tracklist includes the arranger in any way, we should follow that. The track artist on a classical release would be the artist(s) responsible for the work, so I’ve just assumed that’s what the style guide says… seems obvious.

Shortening “arranged for tuba and harpsichord by Bob Butt” to “arr. Butt” would probably be a good thing.

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Expanding on the work. Ravel arrangement of Pictures is not a new composition/work. It’s an arrangement how to play it, although very popular one. As such, don’t we have a clear way to assign an arrangement entity to a work/composition ? Once an arrangement is linked to a recording as work, we have the info we need. How to use this info is another matter. For example, I populate my track titles using linked work, this resolves the inconsistent spelling by labels and editors.

My track titles concatenate a composer and work from the catalogue series, don’t have an arranger yet but perhaps will add that. Something like that

Mussorgsky - Pictures movement name (arr. Ravel)

I much prefer a neat Album and Recording titles in MB that specify what is played and not how it is played. Don’t like (live) (arranged by such and such for oboe) (remastered) etc. Those are separate attributes of a recording, not a title of a recording.