Confusion over Medley's

OK, medley’s something that many may dislike, but appear frequently enough (certainly in my realm of budget releases).

Adding the medley to a track-list is easy enough, and a recording is then created in a database for that medley sequence - simple.

However, then comes the relationship building and there are two paths and no clear reasoning to choose one over the other?

You can either:

Solution 1
Create a work for that specific medley, then link the works that are included within that medley to that work. You do not link the individual works to that medley with the medley attribute.

Example - Song “Country Classics” - MusicBrainz

Solution 2
Link all the works that are contained within that medley with the medley attribute, in order, to the recording but not create an overall work for the medley.

Example -

I really think we need to say “this is how you handle medley entities” with a single solution; not this mis-mash of both.

In my time here, it looks like more people prefer Solution #2 to Solution #1 - probably because the idea of a work medley doesn’t really make sense?

Are there many examples of Solution 1 even existing with say an ISWC identifier?


I always hit solution 2. And have also converted some solution 1 to solution 2.

The artist is not writing a new work. They are just taking pieces of current works and stitching them together in a new way.


Maybe there are rare specific cases where a medley work is useful?

Like for 1984/Dodo, an assemblage of 1984 and Dodo with slight lyrics change.
(in fact the medley was released first)

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there are definitely reasons to have Medley works. for example, Weird Al does polka medleys of popular songs, and also performs them live. a random selection:

most of Al’s polkas do seem to have identifiers, including Polkas on 45, which does have an ISWC.

that said, I’ll often default to solution #2 as well. though an ISWC or other IDs might be a good indicator to use solution #1


ok cool beans - so at some point I need to start an unofficial document guideline for Medleys that explains this, and maybe it could become official guidelines.

I’m thinking

If recording is medley, use solution 2 unless recording has a work identifier that declares it to be its own standalone work?


It really depends on the musical genre and the way you are interested in. “Medley” in MusicBrainz is a catch-all for several slightly different things: medleys, potpourris, mosaicos, megamixes, sets… which can have a specific form depending on the musical genre. So it isn’t possible to have a single solution that fits for all.

Click for a few examples I edited.

In Irish traditional music, instrumental works are most often played in “sets” (approximated with “medleys” in MusicBrainz).

Most often these works are just chosen by the performers themselves and played entirely with common arrangements. In this case I don’t enter any medley work. Here is an example of release:

Many times the arrangements are claimed by the some of the performers but no additional information is available (from the release at least). I don’t enter any medley work in such case either, instead I simply add the arranger credits to the release (or to the recordings if track-level credits are available). Here is an example of release with arrangers (second half of the tracks still to be documented):

It happens that specific arrangements are made over traditional works and are even available as sheet music. In that rare case I do enter medley work. Here is an example of work and release (for which I don’t have any information about undocumented tracks but I suspect that it won’t be worth a medley work):
Suite “The Irish Session Suite” - MusicBrainz

However it is indeed possible to better document the two paths that you mentioned.

I mostly agree but I don’t think it should be so restrictive. If a medley can be attached any additional data beyond its arrangers and the works it contains, then it is probably worth entering it as a distinct work. Of course work identifier (such as ISWC) is the most common case of additional data, but it can also be (not limited to) sheet music, cover recordings, Wikipedia article…


Agreed that if a specific medley gets covered (or even the artist consistently plays the same medley live in the same way) it is probably worth adding a work for it.