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

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Hi folks :slight_smile:
As nobody reacted in past two days to my previous post, and some of you gave likes to my post, can I assume that you all agree or at least are okay with the opinion that "instrumental" should be added to the types list?

Oh here are a few remarks on your discussions:

With “pop” is meant a song that pretends to become a hit. It needs another attribute to define what music type it is, see:
this page and hover with mouse over the “view all here” above the “please select the genre”

Visitors of the Music Brainz website won’t look for “other” types, they will look for “certain” types of music. Any “other” or “unknown” types will not show up in the search results!

“Vocals” is just an instrument, like any other instrument e.g. a saxophone. Vocals do not need to sing a text (lyrics), they can also do “la la la la” or “oh oh oh oh” or scat singing. Because vocals are an instrument, they are divided (just like a sax) into bass, baritone, alto, mezzo-soprano and soprano. The only interesting about vocals compared to other instruments is, that until now, vocals are the only that can perform the lyrics of a song: sung (what we call a song) or spoken (what we in modern music call a rap).
So, I stick to my earlier statement: works can be divided in two kinds: instrumentals (works without lyrics) and songs (works with lyrics). we can add attributes to a work, like: key, beat etc. You think “instrumental” a vague term. I have no problems with a more specific term for the same category, so please what do you suggest we call the “works without lyrics”?

Not only that is so true what you state, but even more important is, that visitors of the site, looking for “instrumentals” of a certain music genre from a certain period in time, cannot find them now, because the type field has been left blank![quote=“Zastai, post:32, topic:164558”]
The same would go here, just because “sonata” is more specific, that does not mean that “instrumental” is not already better than “dunno, don’t care”.

See my note to @jesus2099

I wonder where you got that from? As Wikipedia says otherwise.

So in other words, you do not want that future human beings are able to find instrumental pieces of music composed by their ancestors, or do I not understand you?

You indeed got the root problem :slight_smile:

Indeed @Yvanz :wink: so I wonder, why should only native English people be able to look for music works here in this World Wide Encyclopedia? I thought it is an Encyclopedia for all people from our World?!

Nice saying, "if in doubt, leave it out" :slight_smile: But on the other hand, when from now on we can set the proper type “instrumental” or whatever you want to call it (as long as it is also understandable for non English speakers), at least the future majority of instrumental works can be found when visitors look for those, while if we continue to leave the field blank or fill in “other”, then in future no instrumental work at all will show up in the search results when people look for those types of original works! Is that what you really want? I do not think so!

Yes please go ahead @Zastai and create a ticket for it, to enter "instrumental" as a “new” type of work!

Can you all agree with @Zastai so he can send in a ticket?
Yes? :slight_smile:


There’s already one:

I don’t know the process rules for the database here, but generally we’d reopen a bug if it pops up again. It might be better to clone it as a feature request instead though. I would rather see descriptors or attributes added then. Instrumental really isn’t a distinct work type.


There is very clearly opposition to having “instrumental” as a work type. You can’t get rid of that by just claiming that everyone agrees with you.


That was closed because it is a style matter, and its usefulness or even correctness is disputed.


I understand and sometimes agree.
Still I am not sure what I prefer.
FWIW, my vocal / non vocal work type dichotomy comes from Minc, the Japanese ISRC DB, has 3 or 4 recording types (I only remember 3 ATM):

  • V: Vocal
  • I: Instrumental
  • K: Karaoke


@jesus2099 I talk about the original work not about the several recordings or an original work. Any original instrumental can get a recording with lyrics when someone writes lyrics for it, and every original work with lyrics can get an instrumental recording when leaving out the lyrics :slight_smile: Happy weekend to you! Have fun! :wink:


Yeah, that’s a trash article with zero sources for the body of the article. I lost it at note #10: “Contains vocals, which total thirty words and thus contains the most amount of lyrics of any instrumental song to hit #1.” If you want to trust an article with a line like that, feel free. You can also have their article on Song, which says: “While the term ‘song’ usually refers to a sung melody, the term is also used in some instrumental music in which the composer wishes the performer to play in a singing style.” Or just check out the article on Instrumental Rock and count how many times the phrase “instrumental song” appears. I’ll go with the Harvard Dictionary of Music, which describes song form as “The simple ternary form A B A, a form that is actually much more common in instrumental (particularly piano) music than songs,” then goes on to lament that in more modern usage the term has been diluted beyond that. If you look up the word “Instrumental” it has… nothing, because “instrumental form” isn’t a thing.

Yep, you got me. Global warming. Zika. Making it difficult to find instrumentals. Satanism. It’s all part of my grand master plan to screw the children of tomorrow. Good on ya for sussing that out.

Instrumental as a work type is indefensibly useless. Half the existing work types can be instrumental, and the term tells us almost nothing about the work itself. If a work is labeled as concerto, opera, or symphony, it at least gives me some idea of form, scale, and instrumentation. If a work is labeled as an instrumental, it means it may not have any words, or just a few unimportant ones in the background. It might be Mahler’s 6th, or the “Dun-Dun” sting from Law and Order. If you want “Instrumental” to be useful for anything, make it a descriptor separate from work type that can be used in searches coupled with genre tags.


I do understand QA process, which is why I suggested cloning it as a new feature request. I’d hope the dev team would move it to the right project if it was filed to the wrong one. The idea is you’d rather keep the discussion from the old ticket around, (so people can read through it and dismiss it quickly), rather than open a new one and start all over.


I strongly agree that instrumental works best as a folksonomy tag, but then I’m biased. I have a thing for tags.

I strongly disagree, because work type has never been formally defined. Works were implemented in an intentionally vague state. The thinking was that they’d be further developed and refined once it was clear how people were using them. The type list was pre-populated with a few items, but nobody (to my knowledge) gave it much thought. It was a busy time in MB history :slight_smile:

On the other hand, I agree that the type field is itself fairly useless. More on that when I complete the first draft of my anti-type rant.


[quote=“CallerNo6, post:49, topic:164558”]
once it was clear how people were using them[/quote]

I think this is the important part, obviously there is a want for this or the thread wouldn’t exist.

Is part of the disconnect here that the type field has been useful, exclusively, to classical editors thus far, and so has taken on a certain meaning to them?
As someone who doesn’t use the field at all currently (it’s all ‘song’ when I’m editing), I don’t see why ‘instrumental’ isn’t a useful descriptor from my perspective (although the fact that any recording can leave out the lyrics is a factor that makes it tricky… but not useless)

I think Torc has already found the middle ground:[quote=“Torc, post:47, topic:164558”]
make it a descriptor separate from work type[/quote]

It’s just semantics really isn’t it.
If people are attached to the current useage of ‘types’, make another field like ‘attributes’ and put anything and everything in there.
Personally I (naively I’m sure) don’t see the problem with allowing setting multiple types, but I can already sense the outrage, as well as possibly changing the way the database is structured?


If MB had better tag support (specifically a seperate tag category for genre or something along those lines) I’d agree!



Use the advanced query “lang:zxx” to search for instrumental works. I don’t see how adding an instrumental work type would enable more accurate searches than this.

Scatting is improvisation, I don’t see how it’s got much to with works, and how many compositions exist that specify humming, but don’t contain any lyrics? Also scatting or humming is just using the voice as an instrument, and should not be enough to categorise a work as “not an instrumental”.


Because jazz, pop, rock, etc. don’t represent distinct forms of composition (I suppose rap might be an exception). They are types (or styles) of performance and therefore relate more to recordings than works. Determining styles can be subjective and therefore MBz only supports them via tags.
and finally…

Disagree, “instrumental” is not a commonly accepted form of classical composition (unlike sonata, song, concerto, etc.).


Well, On the score sheet of Images one can read it is for piano solo, nothing else. Apparently Debussy and/or his publisher did not want to classify it as one of the more common forms (Sonata or whatever). As far as I know a piano is an instrument and therefore it should be called an instrumental. If you want to be more specific you can add a tag or separate field for which instrument then… And YES instrumental is not commonly accepted type among classical compositions because they had other ways to describe their works (e.g. Sonata, etude, impromptu which are nearly all instrumental pieces of music). It is now nearly a 100 years since Debussy died (1918) and things have changed since then… Or not???

Because jazz, pop, rock, etc. don’t represent distinct forms of composition ??? As a composer myself just as my wife; a composition is written with a specific genre in mind. Satisfaction written by the Rolling Stones is not intended as a Sonata or a Jazz thing. Trust me; a composer knows what he or she is doing…


You are joking!!! So you find it useless because half of the existing work types can be instrumental? YES, what about the other half… Music is inherently according to Wikipedia music with or without lyrics (see definition of song). You might be right about half the existing work types and still find this useless??? I can only conclude you do not understand anything about statistics. And as far as I understand the whole exercise according to you has no meaning because of global warming ect… Why bother to write anything on this forum then… Just stick to your alcohol addiction then and leave us serious people alone!!!


That’s completely fine with me, if we reopen the old ticket to apply the “instrumental” type, just as it was done for applying the “song” type in ticket related to that ticket.
I disagree with you, that Instrumental isn’t a work type.

I am sorry but there exists a contradiction in your own statement: how can there opposition if everybody agrees? Perhaps you meant to say something else? Then please explain!

@Torc I can understand you go not along with the Wikipedia articles, but then how would You name the two kind of original works, the ones with and the ones without lyrics?

Torc why are you making jokes about this topic? We are seriously discussing here, how to name the two kinds of original works (compositions):

  1. original works/compositions with lyrics: those we already named “songs
  2. original works/compositions without lyrics: those we are discussing, how to name them.

As a modern music composer myself, I absolutely disagree with you on this. My original compositions are not just melodies that performers can choose the style (type) of performance (jazz performance or rock performance). On the contrary, I wrote my original compositions in a certain music type. This everybody will see when reading the full scores of my compositions or hearing the first soundfile. For example: one of my compositions is a blues, another composition is a jazz swing, another composition is a ballad, another is a rock composition.


Please refrain from implying substance abuse in other community members. It is disgraceful to people actually suffering from substance abuse (directly or indirectly), unfair to the other community member in question (whom I’d say you owe an apology now), and a terrible thing to do in general.

If you can’t argue your point without falling back to name calling, please take a step back and don’t argue at all.


:slight_smile: @Freso
and thank you :slight_smile:


You are right I do apologise


:slight_smile: @Multi_Musician
and thank you :slight_smile:

How do we or should we define the term "work"?

After this interruption, shall we please go on now with our discussion?

I have the impression that we have no consensus among us about the meaning of the term “works” and that is why we have difficulties agreeing on the different “types” of works. I have no authority to split forum topics, so I will make a separate topic about “what do we mean with the term work”. When that topic is solved, I am sure we all here in this topic can find a solution for adding appropriate types for works :wink:

So, let’s first get consensus on what is a "work " okay? And then we all go back to this forum topic to solve it okay? :slight_smile: