Associating a Release with an Edition of the score and its editor

I’m in the process of adding Release “Laudes Deo and other motets” by Robert Johnson; Capella Nova, Alan Tavener - MusicBrainz and a significant piece of information that I’d like to add is that the recordings are from Kenneth Elliot’s edition. I looked in the style guide to find what the “editor” attribute of a recording might be, and it turns out to a production editor rather than what’s needed here. So I thought I’d turn for the community for the best suggestions.

I see that in the case of Bruckner Symphonies the edition might appear as disambiguation (as at Work “Symphony no. 2 in C minor, WAB 102: IV. Finale: Ziemlich schnell” - MusicBrainz which cites the Nowak Edition in the disambiguation). That doesn’t seem sufficient to link other editions in the same series, and hence recordings of similar idiom, which is why I’m wondering if there is a better place for it.

(Oh, and I know I messed up the Track Artists again! Sorry. There are queued edits to fix that)

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My understanding is that different editions of a composition merit different Work entries. See CSG “Works”, section " Different versions".

A search with advanced query syntax for “work:“WAB 102” AND type:symphony” yields six Work entries, all named “Symphony no. 2 in C minor, WAB 102”: work/e61e66, work/822dbb, work/eadb4b, work/ecb0ea, work/142c8c, and work/8541b0. Four are for different editions of Bruckner’s Symphony no 2. The fifth is a catch-all, for MB contributors who do not know which edition applies. The sixth is an arrangement for chamber orchestra.

So, I think you have a choice. If there are other editions of those Robert Johnson pieces which are in general use, then add Work entries so that there is an entry for the Elliot edition of each piece, and a catch-all Work entry for each piece. Fill in the disambiguation text for each Work entry. For extra credit, make Work entries for each other well-known editions of each piece (but sometimes I have not been this diligent).

If there are not other well-known editions, then leave one Work entry for each Robert Johnson piece. This will implicitly be a “catch-all” with regard to editions. Maybe add a reference to the Elliot edition in the Annotation for that Work entry. Then, in the Annotation for the Release, mention that the Release uses the Elliot edition.

Does that help?

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That is very helpful indeed, thank you! I’ll create a generic work and add the add annotated works for the Kenneth Elliott edition. I think it’s best to go with the MB practice rather than get to pedantic about what “Work”, “Revision”, “Reconstruction” etc mean.

I’m a humble electronics engineer, and not used to matters of music scholarship. Regrettably, Kenneth isn’t around any more to ask his opinion, so I consulted our Emeritus Music Prof, Graham Hair, and we were a little surprised that’s the way it’s done, because an edition isn’t a “work”. In the normal English usage, you’d expect all the Bruckner 2 editions to be the same “work”. But I guess it’s just a database design decision and you have to make a call at some point.

The style guide you referenced says

When a work is completed or restored by a different composer than the original, usually both composers get composition credits.

so I asked Graham (who worked with Kenneth for many years) if he thought Kenneth’s edition counted as a restoration, or even a reconstruction like, for example, Anthony Payne’s Elgar 3. He said:

The question with Johnson is, as often with the 16th century, “is it really by Johnson” or “is it the same Johnson to whom we attribute Laus Deo in manuscript X”
Don’t bust your brain over these issues. Categorisation is at best a very rough schema for a fluid state of affairs!
Tony Payne’s was a reconstruction. Kenneth’s was an edition. There’s a complete version in ms by Johnson. But no complete version by Elgar.

which sounds like good advice to me. He also thinks there may be some of the Scottish Johnson in Musica Britannica so I shall have to check whether it contains these works and if so add appropriately annotated work entries for them. It’ll take me a few days but I’ll sort it out eventually.

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I’m glad to hear that.

Welcome to MusicBrainz. The MusicBrainz database structure has grown incrementally, as the project’s ambitions rose. Not every term or every structure reflects the best musicological understanding. That I is why I am careful to capitalise MusicBrainz terms, and use a qualifier like “entity” or “entry”, when I refer to the MusicBrainz structure instead of something from the rest of musicology. Finding a way to choose different words for the rest-of-musicology term helps, too.

For example,

A Work entry can correspond to a musical composition (“work”), or an edition, or an arrangement, or a reconstruction.


Are you familiar with FRBR, and the “Work/Edition/Manifestation/Item Hierarchy”? It blew my mind when I came across it. See a summary at Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) . It seems to me that, in FRBR terms, MusicBrainz uses the same Work entity type to refer to both FRBR “Works” and “Editions”, while the musicological concepts of “arrangement” seems to straddle the FRBR distinction between “Works” and “Editions”.

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Great work tīmu!! (team)

The musicology aspect is well over my head, but I suspect a lot of this kind of thing will be where a useable database structure collides with terminology, as you already suspect.

Broadly speaking MB will be interested in creating new entities wherever there will be or may be unique and specific relationships for that entity, such as new credit relationships regarding a restoration or reconstruction.

I would love to be a fly on the wall when a music professor and a MB database developer have a discussion :grin:

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I’m not familiar with that, no. And I certainly should be. I’ve done a bit of database maintenance and design in the past, and fully appreciate that the structure isn’t going to appear complete and finished immediately. The best that can hoped for is design decisions don’t come back and bite you later.

As a very modest contributor to MB, I’m really just keen not to go against the intention of designers and power-users. I’ve been thinking a bit about how to browse music collections, including my personal music collection, and will have a go at writing a visual front end for it. So everything I own is going to have to be entered. It’s a good thing most of it is already there!

We’re also working on CD releases with Scottish Voices which I think it’ll be my job to enter when they are released. Hence I’m very keen to understand the thinking behind the structure, which makes your suggestions more useful still. I did once ask a (non-music) librarian about a taxonomy of musical idioms and genres, but she just looked worried. Whole new can of worms :slightly_smiling_face:

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Music Profs come in different flavours :slightly_smiling_face: and in my outfit we work mostly with two. Graham has given up teaching to concentrate on writing and directing. What he doesn’t tell you on that page is that he’s also written PDP-11 assembler code in his time. He was great with the EE and CS students. The other is John Gormley from the Conservatory, and he teaches my students music analysis in a course we have called “Data Acquisiton for Music Processing” (mostly because I wanted to call it “the damp course”). He’s a proficient Java and Python programmer, so he gets the EE and CS students to write down how they did it in pseudo-code, which turns out to be really challenging.

Being performers, both of them are pragmatic and would, I’m sure, “get” the reason for design compromises. The same things go on in composition and performance all the time. And they understand technology too, so actually I’d imagine the discussion could be good fun :grinning: