Best way to document reggae riddims


I think we should agree on how to handle riddims. In some music genres, such as reggae and soca, it’s a common practice for several different vocalists to write lyrics and record a song over the same instrumental track. A producer will make an instrumental track, and that track may get used by more than a dozen vocalists. This instrumental track is called a riddim or version, depending on the context. Sometimes, a reggae band releases a song with vocals, and other artists re-record it with a modified arrangement and completely different lyrics. Sometimes these new songs are licensed, and sometimes they’re not.

There are databases devoted entirely to cataloging riddims:,, and are three examples. Can we make just as easy to find songs by riddim on MusicBrainz?

Here is what search results look like for a specific riddim in two other databases:


The name of the riddim may be the name of the original song, a variation on the name of the original song, or something else entirely. A riddim might also be known by more than one name. If I really like a reggae song, I want to know the name of the riddim so I can find other songs based on that riddim. So the name of the riddim must appear in a searchable field.

How we might handle riddims on MusicBrainz

  • One series of works per riddim; the series is named for the riddim, and aliases are added as necessary. The series is named for the riddim, and includes the word riddim (e.g., “Three Blind Mice riddim”)
  • Put the name of the riddim, followed by the word riddim in the disambiguation field of a work.
  • Tag works, recordings, releases, and/or release groups with the name of the riddim, followed by the word riddim

In each of these approaches, I assumed that we would additionally document work/recording relationships. I don’t think we can document riddims entirely through relationships, however.

I think the best of these approaches is to create a series of works. This is preferable to tags because it allows for aliases, it’s constrained to a type (“works”), and it’s less volatile. However, it lacks the visibility of the disambiguation field. How is a user to know that it might be possible to find a riddim by searching on “series”?


What I have done in the past is make one instrumental “riddim” Work for just the riddim, and have all the riddim + vocals Works be “based on” this riddim. This can also work even if the original riddim is instrumental+vocals, just don’t copy the original lyricist(s) over then. See e.g.,:

For cases where we know which specific Recording was used for another Recording, there’s also the Recording-Recording “remix” relationship that can be utilised.


Agreed that a work for the riddim + based on makes sense.