Learning to add/edit classical releases by doing - help me please

Optimistic ignoramus, that I am, I set to adding a few releases. Some of them have attracted criticism and caused unnecessary extra work to those who are more expert at this. It turns out that I need a bit more help in getting things right than I could find in the number of pages of the style guidelines that I have consulted. So here’s a stub for a CD I own. Picard could not find an existing release, ans I could not find one searching manually by barcode or catalogue number, so I created it.

I tried to do the easy stuff only. Typing in the CD’s title and catalogue number was straight forward, as was scanning the barcode in, but that was all that did not present at least a minor hurdle. For instance, it turns out you can’t leave the release group box blank. The database insists on having one, and if you are not confident that you know how to choose the most suitable on from the pick list and leave it blank, it chooses the release title for you by default.

Next came the track list. It was of course blank, though for some reason unknown to me the track durations were already filled in correctly for all 16 tracks. I don’t know how Picard (I presume it was Picard) would have known the number of tracks, let alone the duration. All track titles were left blank, though. Not being keen on filling them out manually, I googled the CD by barcode. Among the results with track titles were http://www.classicalarchives.com/album/710357701221.html and http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/vivaldi-concerti-baroque-trumpet-music-john-wallace/30209, the latter only listing 11 of the 16 tracks. Both were different to the CD I had in hand, including in one case who the composer was, so I decided to type what I had lying on my desk out manually after all, even though I am not happy with whoever created it in the first place, but I think we can leave that issue for maybe later.

Right now I am more concerned about relationships. The style guide is clear enough in an abstract sort of way. The lazy way is to add them at release level, but if you know which tracks, which might be anywhere between one and all they apply to, the should be added at the recording level. And that is where I need pointers. Step by step please, and optimally starting with something like “Click on ‘Edit’, then click on…” I want to do that by myself because I’ll be remembering how it’s done more easily that way.

Once I know exactly how to go through the process deciding which composer gets related to which track is easy, for the information is there for every track. John Wallace appears on every one of them, and so does Philharmonia Orchestra,so that should be easy to once I know how to batch process the tracks, but can we assume that Lyn Fletcher and/or Peter Thomas play the violin only on tracks where they get a mention? Conversely, can we assume they do play on all tracks even when they are not mentioned?

I think I have made enough requests and asked enough questions for now, but there are bound to be more to come. Bear with me please, if you can.


I’ll leave the advising to folks who can do it better off the top of their heads. Just wanted to say hang in there. I still have to consult the classical style guide just about every time I enter a classical release.


The release group is for when there are several releases of the same thing. E.g., the label makes different releases for different countries. When you’re adding something new that doesn’t exist in the database at all, creating a new one is what you want to do.

Also, track titles shouldn’t have the composer in them (that goes in the track artist field instead). We use a colon (:) to separate a work name from its subparts, not a hyphen (-) (so “Sonata à 6 in C for solo trumpet and strings: Grave”). [Also—odd mix of languages there, but maybe that’s what actually on the disc, no idea],

Relationships are easiest added by clicking “Edit Relationships” located under “Editing” on the right-hand side of the page. (Yes, it’s sort of hidden). On that page, you can use the checkboxes + the batch-add link up top to add a relationship to multiple things at once (e.g., the orchestra) or the individual “add relationship” links to add to one track.

Nothing is actually saved until you click “enter edit” at the bottom.

Example: To add John Wallace:

  1. Click on the check mark to the left of ‘recording’. This is a shortcut to check all the recordings.
  2. Click “Batch-add a relationship to recordings”
  3. Make sure “artist” is selected on the left. Under type, select “instruments”. Enter “John Wallace” in the type-to-search field to the right of “Artist”.
  4. A menu should pop up (give it a while… MusicBrainz is currently slow at times), select the correct one (“John Wallace (trumpet)”).
  5. In the type-to-search under instrument, type in trumpet. A menu should pop up again, select trumpet.
  6. if any of the check boxes apply (e.g., the release credits him as additional trumpet, which I’m guessing is pretty unlikely) then check those boxes.
  7. hit done.
  8. Remember none of this is saved until you press enter edit at the bottom.

You can now repeat starting with the batch-add to add the orchestra, conductor, etc. You can use that same check-box to the left of recording to un-check everything, then add the relationships which apply to less than all the tracks.

At the very bottom, you can add relationships to the release (used when you don’t know which track someone performed on, or for credits which aren’t for a recording—e.g., writing liner notes).

There is also the right hand of that page—that is for linking works to the recording. The work stores information related to the the composition, not the performance. So that’s where relationships for the composer, lyricists, etc. go. Hopefully, you can find the works already in the database, as entering them is a whole separate thing to learn…


Making progress - slowly.

[quote]There is also the right hand of that page—that is for linking works to
the recording. The work stores information related to the the
composition, not the performance. So that’s where relationships for the
composer, lyricists, etc. go. Hopefully, you can find the works already
in the database, as entering them is a whole separate thing to learn…[/quote]

I guess you are referring to “Add related work”. I can’t find a way to add the composer there, and the “batch-add relationships to works” stays greyed out even when I have selected one or more tracks by ticking the boxes to their left. Can someone step me through this please?

As for adding related works themselves, I’d like to avoid that if I could for now. Some of the tracks on this disc are only parts of the whole work, and some works are covered in toto by a sequence of tracks. Also, why do at least some of the works that pop up for selection appear to come up in conjunction with particular conductors?

“Batch-add a relationship to works” won’t work yet because you don’t have any works associated with the tracks yet. The stuff on the right half of the page actually modifies the works, not the recordings. The “Add related work” links the two.

So… you’re going to have to find related works. And if they’re not in the database already, add them.

Sometimes you get lucky and it’s easy to find works from that edit relationships page. I tried with Albinoni’s Il nome glorioso in terra, the first track on your release… didn’t work. I also tried using the search page, where you can use the “advanced syntax” to try and find it. Didn’t find it. Finally, you can check all of Albinoni’s works… not there. I’m going to guess it’s not in the database. So it’ll need to be added.

I tried. I found a list of Albinoni’s works at Wikipedia to try and get the standard name (works are shared by all recordings, so they should use the “standard” name even if a particular recording or album doesn’t). There is an Il nome glorioso in terra, santificato in cielo, but that appears to have lyrics. I’d guess you have an instrumental version of it, or maybe just a part of it. Google helpfully pointed me to YouTube videos of it—but I didn’t actually find any information on it. IMSLP’s Albinoni page didn’t help either. So, I gave up on this one—hopefully you have liner notes explaining it (or better luck with Google).

So… let’s try track two. Your release has a slightly less helpful title for it (in particular, missing the catalog number). Google suggests Concerto for 2 Trumpets in C major, RV 537. (YouTube will provide recordings if you’re not sure that’s the right work). There is an IMSLP page for it. If it is the correct work:

  1. Click on “Add related work” for track 2
  2. I found the best search was simply (including the quotes) "RV 537".
  3. Four works will pop up; one for each of the three movements and one for the complete work (this is how classical works are normally entered in to the database; one work for each movement, then one work for the complete thing). From your track name, it appears you have all three movements in one track, so pick the full-work one “Concerto for Two Trumpets in C major, RV 537”. It’s possible some of the check boxes apply, e.g., live and partial. (I don’t think instrumental does—I think that’s mainly for use by instrumental versions in non-classical. Cover of course doesn’t apply to classical either).
  4. Click done.
  5. You’ll now see that the composer is already there, since this work is already in the database.

When you need to add a work (and have the information to do it), you can scroll to the bottom of the search popup (#3 above) and select add new work. Hopefully most are already in the database.


Welcome to MusicBrainz! I’m always happy to see more people adding and editing classical releases.

Like you may have already learned it takes some time and patience to learn guidelines. I recommend reading our official style guideline for classical music: Classical Style Guide (CSG) .

According to these guidelines you’ll notice that composer names are used as track artists with classical music. As release artists we use both the composers and performers (notice semicolon in the middle). There’s many more confusing rules to learn but don’t let it scare you.

Your Vivaldi release is kind of nightmare with works because some track titles are too generic for being able to identify the correct work. Even if you know the correct works it seems we don’t have most of them.

As I understood you, you created the release from the disc you had inserted for lookup with Picard. In that case the number of tracks and their length is read from the disc’s table of contents and submitted to MusicBrainz if you choose to add a new release. The durations and number of tracks are also used to calculate the disc ID which is used to uniquely identify that disc release.

Yes, the track listing on this CD is an utter mess. No opus references, misspelt names, style inconsistencies, incomplete IDs, it’s all there. Other releases are different but no better. I picked this one to exercise with because it has various composers, but was unaware of the additional problems it threw up. It’ll be a slow slog identifying the works and which are partial ones. In the end I’ll get there though.

Perhaps I should have mentioned why I asked for help here. It’s not as though I’m too lazy to read the style guide and other relevant documents. The reason I asked for help is that I am handicapped by attention deficit. After a few lines my eyes glaze over. They keep following the lines, but nothing gets passed on to the brain, and even the stuff that does get through is easily forgotten after a short time. By actually doing the stuff (and all too often stuffing up what I do, at least initially) I do learn and remember what I learn. That too is a slow process, but it’s better than learning even less and taking longer about it. So please bear with me when I ask questions about some fairly basic procedures, and there will be plenty more of those to come.

Also some requests. For instance, can a coder with MySQL or whatever backend you are using add a table for Compose/Band/Singer where the composer is listed by surname first, and the Band with out the “The” at the start? I noticed a useless jumble when I sorted my CD collection by artist. For instance, it would be nice to see “Bach, Johann Sebastian” for all CDs where that was the composer. Currently he is mentioned two different ways in four releases and not at all in a fifth. Chopin appears under his surname in one and as Frederyk in the other. Saint‐Saëns appears under C of course, because his given name is Camille. For classical music we ought to be able to list discs by composer, ensemble and soloists at least, and to be able to do so systematically and reliably. I realise re-entering data for 1.8 million records looks like a daunting task, but much of that can be automated with a bit of programming knowledge.

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[quote=“Stefan_F, post:8, topic:42493”]
Also some requests. For instance, can a coder with MySQL or whatever backend you are using add a table for Compose/Band/Singer where the composer is listed by surname first, and the Band with out the “The” at the start?[/quote]

That’s already available, it is the artist sort name. See e.g. Johann Sebastian Bach, his sort name is “Bach, Johann Sebastian” (see the “Artist information” directly under his picture on the right side). In Picard you can access this name by using the %artistsortname% or %albumartistsortname% variables.

Also in Picard you can enable the option Metadata -> Use standardized artist names. If enabled you won’t get the name as that artist is credited on a specific release but the primary name of that artist used on MusicBrainz. I personally prefer that for my music collection, and I can see that makes special sense for classical music were composers are not credited consistently (e.g. you will see both “Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart” and “Mozart” as artist credits, but for your collection you will probably just want to use one).