Please your input on how to set the type for an original instrumental work of modern music

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I agree, by hierarchical do you mean something like this? (from the MusiCHI tagging software)


[quote=“Torc, post:63, topic:164558”]
I’d recommend checking out RYM’s music descriptors, which aren’t perfect, but are much better than what we have here.[/quote]
This is pretty awesome, though maybe a bit much.
That said I’m sure our data nerds/ AcoustID people are salivating over the datasets you could get with these kind of emotive descriptors :open_mouth:

Anyway, I don’t really see a problem with Torc’s suggestion that we should add ‘instrumental’ but maybe keep ‘form’ to its own category. Does that sound okay to you @Samsom_Productions?

Also if we really want to nail down that ‘types’ = classical forms, can we make that clear?
Myself (and the biggest portion of layman users I’m sure) have no use for anything in there. Unless you count setting everything to ‘song’. If we decide it’s something basically reserved for classical, then can we make it look like it?
Because “type” is not the same word as “form”, so whenever Torc says “but that’s not a form” I really can’t help but think - “what’s that got to do with it?”. Which I don’t think is an unreasonable thought with how it currently looks.


It’s even worse with song, to be honest, where we say it refers to sung works while others say it includes instrumentals as well.
If it is so much without consensus, we still have it but not instrumental yet.
Maybe song was added too quick and without same discussion and maybe we should not have it.


We should definitely have it, since “Song” is an established musical form. What it should definitely have is an actual definition added to it (but that applies to most of our work types really).


Is our work type the same as Wikipedia (cf. above) — when you type Song in their search bar they suggest Song: composition for voice(s)?
In which case we lack the instrumental type, which could easily be defined in mirror: composition for instruments (if it includes voices, please use Song, instead.

Or is our work not following the primary Wilipedia approach?
In which case it is urgent to have a definition because most non English people like me will look for English definitions in English Wikipedia or will translate to what they have always been told: song means chanson means sung composition.


Good morning to you all :slight_smile:

I am really happy that the confusion about “what is a work” has been solved because it makes it a lot easier for people like me to list music here on Music Brainz.

I am also happy that we came so far in our discussion about the types of a work here in this thread, though the discussion has not always been pleasant, and I am really sorry for that.

I think that a good solution @Torc because when you make clear in the documentation that “work type” refers to “musical intrinsic form” and has nothing to do with instruments, vocals, and lyrics, then the Music Brainz website will be a lot more comprehensible for people like me, who only are here to list some music. And @Torc, that is good that you mention that you have a PhD in music composition, because now we all know that we have a real expert among us, and that you are the perfect person to implement the outcome of our discussions in the website.

Yep I agree with that :slight_smile:

And I also agree with you @jesus2099 :slight_smile:


I just come home from work and had a discussion with Anita about this all.

First of all; To dismiss Wikipedia is foolish to say the least. I do not know if anybody has ever tried to publish something on Wikipedia, but if your statements can not be backed up by serious reviewers; your claims or writing will be dismissed and taken of the site immediately. And yes ‘‘to quote torc’’ they without exception have a degree too in the field of interest. For Torc it might be an idea to try to join this elite kind of people.

To me I feel the discussion is awkward because

  • Torc addresses musical forms to be found at
    where instrumental nor song is represented

  • Jesus2099 samsom_productions and others address problems of categorisation; one of the big problems in informatics. To be more precise; how to define a database without redundancy to allocate everything properly. This goes beyond musical forms; its an informatics thing…

At the moment the musicbrainz musical forms is a mix up of the above two; some are musical forms( Sonata and what have you… ), some are ways of categorisation (e.g. Songs, Instrumental).

Therefore in my view (and apparently so) ,the two viewpoints are unlikely to find common ground.

I hope this might help to clear up this mess.
Credentials I’am not the person to boast about my abilities. For those who are curious I’m sure you can dig your way through google.


Yeah. I was thinking more in terms of Aggregate > Part (like Symphony > Movement), but now that I think about it, it really wouldn’t work. The list you shared is worth consideration though.

I’m trying to think of any popular forms that could make it more useful and kinda drawing a blank. Maybe something along the lines of ‘concept album’ or ‘power ballad’, but even those are more about content than structure. I also mentioned the idea of adding “film cue” (or just “cue”) as a form for individual parts under “soundtrack”.

“Chanson” in medieval and Renaissance times was a specific song form: secular, polyphonic, and based on a one of the standard poetic forms (a couple of which actually were fairly similar to modern song structures), Chanson didn’t just refer to any sung composition – motets and madrigals were also sung forms, but weren’t called chansons. The German ‘lied’ falls into a similar category: it literally translates as ‘song’, but also refers to a specific poetic setting.

Actually, the list does include “Popular song”, though it just redirects to the Popular music article. Wikipedia also this article on song structure.

Strict formal structures simply aren’t a part of modern pop music, and we don’t ascribe cultural meaning to musical forms like they did a few hundred years ago. Pop music has some structural components like verses, bridges, choruses, intros and outros, but their use and arrangement is very flexible. Audiences are content to call any rock record a “song” as long as it’s constructed out of these parts. If it seems like we’re just dumping all pop music under “song”, it’s because that’s almost always what it really is.


Perhaps but when I say chanson or song, I’m thinking about the vocal works that are released everyday. :slight_smile:


You are so very right @jesus2099 :smile: :sunny: :wink:


[quote=“Torc, post:72, topic:164558”]
I’m trying to think of any popular forms that could make it more useful and kinda drawing a blank.[/quote]
That drop down list is not called ‘forms’, and hasn’t been established as a container for such. A few people have said this now.
An example of a general ‘type’ that would be useful to some users without music related PhD’s is ‘instrumental’.


And, @Torc, I am now completing @aerozol’s statement, not only for some users without such a PhD but even and more likely also for some users with such a kind of PhD “it” would be appreciated I am so sure! So without any doubt, I totally agree with you @aerozol :smile: :stuck_out_tongue:


That’s fine, but it doesn’t invalidate the historical meaning of the term (which should probably be added to this list).

If it hasn’t been established, why do you keep yelling that my interpretation of it is wrong? Yes, the documentation on it is woefully lacking and it needs to be cleaned up, but look at what it is now: a single-value menu with 13 metastructures, 12 forms or part structures, and four non-music classes. You can’t just ignore that context and add whatever you want, because it does nothing but further distort what the field is supposed to be Every item currently on the list communicates some kind of idea as structure or function, can be understood in a way that is mutually exclusive of other types, and implies certain cultural and aesthetic expectations; “instrumental” does not. There are ZERO entries for anything based on a binary option like the presence or lack of a specific instrument, or any kind of generic catch-all (regardless of how you think “song” is being used). If you’re going to add binary categories, why not acoustic and electric? Or polyphonic and monophonic? Why not add “3/4” as a type?

It also wouldn’t be useful in searches. It would either be incomplete, because many instrumental works would be correctly assigned to their specific type, or it would be misused as a catch-all for people who don’t know the correct type. It provide no functionality that isn’t available from a language search (and maybe that menu should have a dedicated option). It’s not a “type” of music; it’s a property that can exist in many dissimilar types of music.

Keep discussing this if you want. My vote, for whatever it’s worth, is a hard no. Add it as an attribute.


You’ve been applying your “interpretation” as fact ad nauseam, which doesn’t get more helpful every time.
You don’t happen to have some of the worlds biggest idiots in this forum thread, and when you explain to us that types actually = forms the problem doesn’t go away. There are 7 billion other laypeople in the world who I guarantee are going to have the same misunderstanding and unclear expectations. That’s not helpful.
Sometimes even when you are right and others are all wrong, we still need to use the UI to make it clear.

“Type” means a characteristic that can be used to group things, which by definition (afaik) includes properties that are not exclusive to a single group.

And my vote has also always been to add it as an attribute…
But was more fun to imagine someone “yelling” to argue against I guess :rolling_eyes:


This would be for recordings.
And unless something somewhere tells that song includes instead, for me it is such a binary type that means a work with vocals.


I am trying to understand Torc’s music analysis. Let’s take as a sample an instrumental work by Joe Sample you can click him to hear the music. So then when analyzing this music, which type from the list that we can choose from, would you @Torc choose? Would choose “song” because it has a melody line, or would you assign it to another appropriate type from our list, and which type would that be?


[quote=“Kid_Devine, post:52, topic:164558”]
Currently we only can set zxx lyrics but scat, humming, etc. are not instrumentals, they are with vocals, they are songs IMO.

Scatting is improvisation, I don’t see how it’s got much to with works[/quote]

Jazz works usually have a stable basis and some room for improvisation.
We do have works, hopefully, for all Jazz numbers.
But now it’s true that a scat part may be decided at recording level, replacing sax, trumpet or any other lead instrument.

I am not at home with my computer and all my search engines but I know a bunch of vocal works, for humming ― among others, one or several of 夢の中に, 三つのアリア and/or セブン・センシズ in the Saint Seiya series (my phone does not allow me to copy/paste any more!? so I cannot link at the moment)…

To me they fall in the same category as songs with vocals. Like songs in scat or in invented languages.
The feeling of an instrumental is different than the feeling of a song for human voice, which is so very distinctive, emotionally.

But more and more, after reading these discussions here, maybe instrumental type works should be those with no lyrics, simply.
Then the choice of having vocal lead is something at the recording level, even if the works have been written with vocals (humming) in mind like my examples… ?


I’ve been discussing the issue, same as everybody else here. That’s all I can do. I have no authority to make any changes or “apply” anything. I understand the opposing viewpoints, and I respond directly to other people’s arguments and evidence, but I don’t get anything like that back. If “type” isn’t meant to imply structure and form, why is it only a list of structures and forms? How will this be useful in searches if a lot of instrumental music is filed under a different type? I asked those questions for the first time in my last post, and you’re saying I’m just repeating myself. Jesus and Samsom have posted four times as often as me, and they’re saying the same thing over and over too, why don’t you go lash out at them?

Then somebody FIX it. Somebody fix the documentation. Fix the UI. Change the label. Write a page where every type is defined and explained. I have no power here, I can’t do it. If I could, I would. But opening it up to whatever term anybody wants to throw in there is only going to make that problem worse.

No, if you can argue somebody composed a work to be instrumental, you can argue they composed it to be electric. They’re both just simple descriptions of instrumentation. This piece is an electronic work, this is electric, and this is electroacoustic (and a “song” by your definition). In each case, the instrumentation is inseparable from the composition, but not from the structure. Any argument you can muster for “instrumentation” can be applied to these terms or pretty much any other descriptive terms. Unless we set logical boundaries, we have no reason to exclude any of them and the menu would include dozen of applicable descriptions for each work.

The most common jazz form is just the head, a series of runs through the chart for solos (chorus), and a repetition of the head, then maybe a coda, though I don’t know if there’s an actual common name for that form. That’s what I hear in this: they run through the chart twice (the uptempo horns are near the end of the chart), then near the end they take a coda. Structurally, it’s fairly similar to this piece, though the chart is longer. We don’t have an entry for standard jazz form, so I’d follow the guideline and leave it blank: “Work types should only be used on works that specifically match the chosen type (not every work needs to have a work type!).”

Your turn: would you call this an instrumental? Would you call this a song (based on the last 5:45)?


@Torc I think I finally am going to understand what you mean with the “type” but just a quick question before I give an analysis: as the videos you linked to were taken away, I found still existing links for Tubular Bells (listen last 5:45) and Jeu is that the right “Jeu”?

So, then we can all now going to analyze the music pieces given in the above posts and perhaps we finally can understand each other and get consensus about what is a “type” of music :slight_smile:


[quote=“Torc, post:82, topic:164558”]
If “type” isn’t meant to imply structure and form, why is it only a list of structures and forms?
[/quote]My point is and was that 7 billion people don’t know the technical description of structures and forms like you do, so it really doesn’t imply that much for them. If you want to nail down the meaning/ don’t like people wanting other things in there, it really is also your problem to fix… I don’t really care what people advocate to put in. It’s of no use to me currently.

Even after I’ve said that I’m not against what you want to do with this suggestion, and agree with you, you clearly still want to have an argument with someone. Guess I’m that someone? It’s not really fun for me though so let’s take it easy :slight_smile:
If you have a problem with the tone of any of my posts please let me know and we can do better next time.