Keyboards (plural) not an instrument option?

Tags: #<Tag:0x00007f4d5581ecd8>

Many albums have a keyboard player credited as playing ‘keyboards’.
Perhaps he played grand piano and synthesizer, or Hammond and Fender Rhodes, or maybe he has a whole rack with many sorts of keyboards. It’s not always specified in detail.

So I would like to select ‘keyboards’ for that.
But I only see ‘keyboard’.
Shouldn’t there be an entry for ‘keyboards’?


Told you this place was a little “odd” at times. :rofl: But there is often logic to the madness.

Keyboard is used for keyboards. You see similar issues with a few other instruments that are usually written and used in the plural. (bagpipe being another random example - that is always bagpipes in the UK as there is more than one “pipe”.)

Some of this is the trouble of trying to use a single language to cover so many countries and types of music. This leads to a few things looking “odd”, but there is usually sense to the why.

THIS is the list you need. :slight_smile:

Oh - and ask someone else why “Membranophone”… :upside_down_face:

Looking at that list, is says:
Keyboard (electronic or digital keyboard)

I don’t want to appear nitpicking, but if a musician played piano and synthesizer on a recording, it could say ‘keyboards’ on the liner notes.
(that’s quite common by the way)

But if you would see ‘keyboard’ written on a MusicBrainz release page, you would now think the musician played a single electronic instrument. (because the instrument list you linked to specifically excludes an acoustic piano from being a 'keyboard)
That’s not right is it?

Also, if it now says keyboard on MusicBrainz, you are missing out on the fact that the musician used more than one instrument for the recording?
So only having keyboard (singular) is stripping away valuable information in my opinion.

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@Rai_ner - mate, I TOTALLY agree with you. It makes my head spin when I see “keyboard” instead of “keyboards”. And that “bagpipe” one is just weird.

I can see the logic that MB is not counting how many keyboards are in use. So “keyboard” means “one or many”. In the same way some artists will pick up more than one guitar during a track.

I do find it funny when I see some people select “keyboard” and then type “keyboards” next to it meaning we then have a keyboard [keyboards]. But I assume they are having a laugh.

You can fix this in Picard to be more “correct”. Here is an example of repairing this:

$set(performer:guitars,$get(performer:guitar family))
$unset(performer:guitar family)

So to fix keyboard \ keyboards in your tags add this.


Haha, that’s funny indeed, I have played in some bands, but I never ran into a fellow musician playing a family :wink:

Thanks for the scripts, I will certainly try them.

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I assume he is running up and down the stage playing lots of different ones at the same time. From little ones to big ones. :smiley: I know I have played a “family” of saxophones before - playing soprano and bass saxes in the same piece.

I believe the “membranophone” and “guitar family” changes appeared at the same time. The other thread would tell you more. I don’t want to drag that weird conversation over here. This is a thread for keyboard(s). And bagpipe(s).

This kind of replacement script is very handy for dealing with oddities in the MB database that you want to translate to something saner in your own tagged files. There are some better script wizards around who do all kinds of magical things.

Yeah, there’s a ton of instruments & vocals that are listed on releases that aren’t exact on MB. That’s why they leave the credited as to the right of the instrument. You can say keyboard [keyboards]. We do that with guitar [lead guitar], [rhythm guitar] or [guitars]. Also, if you know the instrument and it’s more specific select that over what is on the release. In other words for example, Bass. This is used in many liner notes, but if you know it’s an electric bass guitar, you can select that over just the generic, bass. Or electric guitar, when the liner notes only say guitar.


I personally never say [keyboards], but I can see why some would credit it as it is on the release, which is what that field is for.

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If you ask any musician that plays something like this:
“what instrument do you play?”, he will very likely answer: “keyboards”.

That, together with the fact that it is very common to find this printed on album credits I must say I am surprised to find that this is debated and not available as a selection on MusicBrainz.


I usually link them to keyboard credited as keyboards (INST-363).
Same for guitars (INST-330) and percussions (STYLE-322).

I almost only see xxxxx on keyboards in printed booklets.
And indeed in concerts, they usually have several stacked keyboards.


Yeah… me too. I have always had problems working out how to pronounce those square brackets [ ] :rofl:

If you deal with bands like Ozric Tentacles, Orbital and even Pink Floyd there are large stacks of electronic kit on stage. Many keyboards, samplers and other items all heaped up.

Now the true pedant would want to know which manufacture made this kit - and then we’d be down a technical rabbit hole as complex as the Classical editors have to deal with.

From the MB side I think it is fine to have “keyboard” if to refer to one or more. It is a bit like a drumset which doesn’t actually list which drums are in that set. Sometimes we only have the written details and impossible to know what was really used in that recording session.


It’s drums because there are multiple drums involved.
That’s why keyboards would also be more appropriate. It (pretty much always) refers to a keyboard rig.

I can’t recall ever having come across an album that mentioned ‘keyboard’ as a credit.
Same as I can’t recall having come across just ‘drum’ as a credit.

If the musician only played one single keyboard, the credits will pretty much always define it to be a piano, a synthesizer, an organ, or whatever.

If an album says ‘keyboards’, which is very common, you can be pretty sure the musician played multiple keyboard instruments.
But since MusicBrainz doesn’t allow ‘keyboards’ and will force you to use ‘keyboard’, that information gets lost.
That is not good.

Every time I see a release in MusicBrainz that says ‘keyboard’, in my mind’s eye I see the musician behind a cheap 100 bucks white plastic Casio keyboard.
That is not good.

Also, MusicBrainz instruments bible says that ‘keyboard’ is always an electronic instrument.
But as we seem to agree, ‘keyboards’ on album credits is often a combination of acoustic and electronic instruments.
So MusicBrainz currently has no way to translate such credits correctly into the database.
(well, not without listening to the recording, looking at photographs, or making a telephone call to the musician)
That is not good, and it’s at least an error/oversight in MusicBrainz’ instruments guidelines.

Well, I think I have been repeating myself. And looking at previous lengthy threads about drums, idiophones, instrument families, this seems to be a very difficult topic.
Maybe it’s the worlds of musicians and theorists colliding here?

(b.t.w. I also came across ‘shakers’ being a percussion instrument.
Maybe we can trade keyboard to keyboards, against shakers to shaker? :wink:


I was going to suggest that you make a request to have a new “keyboards” instrument added, but unfortunately it’s been proposed before and rejected.

That’s a shame.
Do the people that make these decisions make themselves available on the forum and discuss such things here, or is that all happening somewhere at the ‘back-office’?

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They are all available and, as you can see, the discussions on those tickets that Kid_Devine linked are public and anybody is free to join in, or create another ticket.

I’m sure @CatQuest wouldn’t mind looking at another well thought out and polite ticket - one that doesn’t assume our current massive, complicated and comprehensive instrument tree list not being perfect for everyone right now means people at MB are dumb-dumbs :wink:


That´s exactly my feeling too :smirk: Hail the perfect instrument tree (where there’s no place for messy plurals like keyboards or guitars or drums) a perfect tree which we will not have altered by the reality – nor by the needs of the people wanting to add data as common-sensically credited on (messy!) covers and booklets.

Yes, I’m a bit bitter, because I was the one who asked for “generic, plural “keyboards” credit“ in the first place and as a result got the removal of the “guitars” credit instead. And had to accept the absurd replacement of (mostly correct) “drums” credits by a “membranophone” which 80% of the editors had to google first since they never had heard of this term before and certainly never had seen credited it in any booklet they ever had in hands.

But I guess that’s life: sometimes ideology primes over reality – and there’s nothing you can do about it.


Yeah, that’s a shame. It also seems that the people who are making these decisions don’t much like spending time and interacting on this forum. That doesn’t help either.

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This is one of the best observed posts I have read in ages. :+1: It needs more plus votes.

Absolutely hit the nail on the head. That clash of RealWorld™ and Academia. We all have such different viewpoints on the world.

I am still quizzing British musicians I meet to see if any of them know what a membranophone is. Not had anyone have a clue what I was talking about. :smiley: But then thy just play the things, not catalogue them.

Not a criticism of the MB leaders. It is just the way language works. :slight_smile: Everyone has a different viewpoint.


I think it’s perfectly valid to disagree with the things done but I don’t think it’s correct to accuse MB staff of not interacting with users!

I can think of few organisations where changes to a instrument tree/drums would even be up for discussion at all, as it was in this case. The change was not even a auto-edit.