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

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[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.


Oh this might help you all, when analyzing music and give it a “type”:
structure A-B-A the so called ternary form, seems to be the basic for the song form am I right @Torc or is there a better (Wikipedia) article on this topic?

Now what I found in the sample of Joe Sample is basically this structure:
so indeed what Torc already said: he hears in this sample that they basically run through the chart twice: they do A-B-A-B-Chorus and then A-A-B-A-chorus and then end with a coda.
Now this structure can be defined as Jazz as it has a “head” followed by a chorus, then a repeat of the head followed by chorus and coda.
But also this Joe Sample jazz thing can be qualified as a “song” because its basic structure is A-B-A, so I would name it a “jazz song” and I would give it the attributeinstrumental

@aerozol and others: I know this is all very confusing for many people (including myself until today), that we name certain instrumental music a “song” because of its structure, but perhaps we can explain and define on this website what we mean? We could explain to people that most modern music can be defined as a “song” because of its structure, regardless if it has lyrics or no lyrics, and we could add the attribute “instrumental” for songs without lyrics.

I will be back with analyzing the other music pieces. Perhaps all gets clear then. @jesus2099 I am curious what “types” you find in our “homework” music pieces :wink:


Well, in this music quiz :slight_smile: I now come up with my answer on Jeu

structure: A-A-B-B-A-A-B-B-chorus-A-A-B-B-chorus-coda

It’s really difficult to hear so I might be wrong!
It is a binary form and a verse because of the AABB scheme. Wikipedia means with a verse a kind of song, like Jingle Bells they give as an example and that one indeed also has the AABB scheme.
So, “Jeu” is a verse song.

Now someone else okay?


We actually do have work type descriptions in the database - but I don’t think they’re displayed anywhere right now outside of this admin page:

We definitely should make them visible somewhere to all users - that’s MBS-8576. Once that’s done (or before, even), we should rewrite the descriptions, which right now are mostly “@reosarevok reuses Wikipedia content” - which is meh and probably against the license conditions too.


Thank you @reosarevok for that screenshot! So I read there, that on MusicBrainz “song” is defined asa composition for voice, with or without instruments, performed by singing”.

This definition has nothing to do with the structure or scheme (ABA; AABB) of the music, so it is another definition than for the word song as “musical form”. Conclusion: not all the words used as “types” in the types list, are equal to their meanings as “musical forms”.

The description for "song on MusicBrainz" asks for a mirror we should have added to the list and that mirror is: “instrumental”. Yes I know, “instrumental” is not a musical form, but the MusicBrainz definition of “song” also is not a musical form. Back to where we started this discussion, but good that we all thought about it!

Here on MusicBrainz we can define “instrumental” as "a composition for instruments, without voice, performed by instruments only."

And also I would like to add to the existing definition of “song”: "The word “song” as used on MusicBrainz, has a different meaning than the word “song” as musical form."

P.S.: for classic music pieces we could ask the people to use the classical “types” from the list, and only if they do not know the “type” because for example it is not mentioned on their scores book or on their CD, only then use the type “instrumental”.

P.S. 2: We could also choose for re-defining the word “song” as used on MusicBrainz and define it similar as it has been defined as a “musical form”. But in my opinion this would make it difficult for the average user to “type” a work, because the average user of this site is no expert in music analysis. Of course we then can say “if in doubt leave it out” but imo people who use this site rather wants to put something in the field than leave it blank. Well at least I was looking for something appropriate to put in the “types” field when using this site, and could not find it and therefore started this discussion!


@Samsom_Productions I completely agree with your last post. I feel though that P.S.2 is not an option because song in wikepedia is defined here: Song defined by Wikipedia is NOT to be taken as an abbreviation for the musical forms Popular song or Protest song. Nor song is intended as an abbreviation for song structure as in See also my earlier remarks on the 10th of november. @Torc tries to change the definition of song into a musical form but this is definitely not right. Just as ““Piano Player”” can not be abbreviated to ““player”” or ““piano”” because in doing so you change the intended meaning and context… The entire discussion being a perfect example of the latter.

So my proposal is a Boolean WorkType;

Then to specify if possible, in a separate entry/database field, the musical form type according to

If this is too complicated you can, as a compromise, keep the current WorkTypes with Song and the other options and add Instrumental. In the field of informatics this would be regarded however as a messy option. But still better as no option or nullable type… as is the current status of “Instrumental”