In another forum thread, this one, we have a discussion going on, what “types” there should be available to add to a musical “work”.
In my country (Netherlands) the Buma/Stemra (my national organization to protect music author’s copyrights) defines a “work” as an original music composition and they are not the only one that do so, they are associated with many other countries’ national organizations (like ASCAP) that define music compositions the same way.
This original composition, is divided by the countries’ national organizations in two kinds:
- works with lyrics (they divide because composer of the music work can be somebody else than the lyricist of the work)
- works without lyrics (composer always is the only author of the work).
They make this distinction, because for works with lyrics, there can be two authors that they have to protect: the author of the music and the author of the lyrics, while for “instrumental” works they only have to protect one author, the writer of the music.
For example: when you look up the song “All the things you are” you will see that they distinguish between composer of the song and lyricist.
Though the national organizations have another purpose with distinguishing between works without and with lyrics, I still think it a useful distinction, the more that already "song (music with lyrics) is a “type” in Music Brainz, so why not add the complement of “song”: i.e. “instrumental” (music without lyrics) as well?
But however, at Music Brainz there also seems to be a confusion about the meaning of the term “work”. When I look at my own “works”, there pops up “Have yourself a merry little Christmas”, while I did Not compose that work, and also certainly did Not add it to my original works, but it pops up because I am the artist in my performance and recording and production of that work, as well as you can see at the work “Have yourself a merry little Christmas” that many other artists like Franks Sinatra and Diana Krall also are mentioned in the list for that work! That is not right, we are performers of that work not composers!
However the fact that performers are mixed up with composers here on the Music Brainz, also leads to the confusion about “works” having or not having lyrics, because any “work” can have a recording (performer) otherwise: a work without lyrics can get lyrics, and a work with lyrics can be performed as instrumental.
So, that is why I suggest, shall we first try to reach consensus on how are we going to define the term “work”? Are we going with national organizations like Buma/Stemra and ASCAP and define it as “original music composition”, or are we going to give our own definition for a “work” and that in my opinion could lead to confusion especially for non native English speakers.
If we decide on going along with organizations like Buma and ASCAP by defining the term “work” in our database as an “original piece of music”, we then can also set the “types” for such a work by going along with them . If we however decide defining the term “work” in our database differently, we will face different “types” to add.
Please your input! Thank you so much!