Hidden Songs: Now with Polls!

There have been a number of forum discussions about how to handle “hidden” songs. I’d like to see how much of a consensus we have around how to treat those, and perhaps that consensus can be turned into actual guidelines.

For purposes of this discussion, I’m referring to the situation where a single CD track or digital file has a single title, but actually contains multiple songs/performances, often separated by a period of silence. In the polls below, “Listed Song” represents the title as printed on the release, and “Hidden Song” represents, well, the hidden song. Assume that we know the actual title of the hidden song from other sources.

The track title should:
  • Exactly match the release: “Listed Song”
  • Include the hidden title: “Listed Song / Hidden Song”
  • Indicate the two are separated by silence: “Listed Song / [silence] / Hidden Song”
0 voters
The recording title should:
  • Exactly match the release: “Listed Song”
  • Include the hidden title: “Listed Song / Hidden Song”
  • Indicate the two are separated by silence: “Listed Song / [silence] / Hidden Song”
0 voters

In addition to the title questions, there is the question of how to relate the recording to works. The recording can simply be a “recording of” both works, or standalone recordings can be created for the individual songs. Optionally, a third recording titled [silence] could be created to indicate the length of silence separating the two.

The recording itself should:
  • Link directly to the two works
  • Be linked as a “compilation of” two separate recordings each linked to an individual work
  • Be linked as a “compilation of” three recordings including [silence]
0 voters

For the third poll, here are a couple of real world examples:

Linked directly to works: Something in the Way / Endless, Nameless
Compilation of two recordings: Family / Black Lake (viola organista version)
Compilation of three recordings: The Revolution’s the Same / Not in My Name

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The third question (relating recordings to works) is a bit interesting to me because it is single-choice but provides answers (option 1 and either 2 or 3) that could very well go together in tandem.

An unreviewed (and thus not quite official) MB doc page on stand-alone recordings states that if a track contains two or more separate songs, a stand-alone recording for the entire set of songs should be created which must be linked to the individual songs’ recordings by way of a compilation relationship ( Standalone Recording - MusicBrainz, section “Multiple songs in one track”). I think that’s good as it is and could be officialized - it’s a way to link song recordings to compilations of them (which would be lost if a compilation recording were linked only to works).

As I said above, “Link directly to the two works” would work well in addition to creating and linking a stand-alone recording to its separate songs’ respective recordings. @highstrung’s example of Björk’s “Family / Black Lake (viola organista version)” is actually an instance where both options 1 and 2 are implemented, and I think linking to both individual works and individual recordings is good. I don’t think it should be an either-or choice.

I don’t much care for [silence] in a recording name unless it’s for a track that only contains silence.


Agreed that options 1 + 2 make sense for the third poll.


About polls 1 & 2. The main interest of having separated track’s title from recording’s title is to be able to have both the track that matches the release and the recording in some normalized style, so the two titles are complementary. But the polls 1 & 2 allow to select the same option for both, which wouldn’t make sense here and in general.

About poll 3, using both options 1 & 2 might be easier to manage given the current user interface, but it would result in redundant data, thus allowing for more contradictions between the respective work relationships to each compilation/compiled recording.

I don’t understand this comment. Why doesn’t it make sense for the track title and recording title to both include the hidden song (as the majority of poll respondents prefer)?

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It would defeat the main interest of having separated track’s title as explained in the previous sentence. Track’s title is to recording what artist credit’s name is to artist.

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I don’t see why. While track and recording title can be different they don’t have to be. I don’t see how the poll above changes anything there.