Relationship with instrumentals of songs; karaoke of a recording or instrumental of a work

When creating the recording of the instrumentals of a song, should it be related to a recording of the song with the karaoke versions relationship or be related to the work itself as a recording with the instrumental attribute?

You should relate the instrumental recording to the original using the “karaoke version” relationship, as well as link the work to the instrumental recording (but do NOT use the “instrumental” attribute).

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If that is so, when will the instrumental attribute be used?

Also, unrelated but what is the relationship for this scenario.

Artist A released a song in language X. Artist B did a piano cover of the song. Artist C translated the lyrics of the song into language Y and used the piano cover by artist B as the instrumental of his cover.

I would create a work crediting Artist A connected to Artist A’s recording. Connect that work to Artist B’s recording with Instrumental and Cover checked.
Create a new work crediting Artist A with a credit for Artist C as translator. Link it to the original work with a Based On relationship, then connect that work to Artist C’s recording.


An instrumental is not the same thing as a karaoke but unfortunately many releases show karaoke called as instrumental.

Karaoke is the same recording except that they have removed the vocal track from the mix. This is why it is a recording to recording relationship, it is like a remix. Only the accompaniment (backing tracks) remain. No more melody.

An instrumental has the melody part played by instrument. Here you will link to the work as instrumental, which also means that the lyrics of the work are not rendered in the recording.


On another note, is there a vocal only relationship should there be one? Like, instead of just the instruments being played, only the voice is in the recording.

That would be covered by the relationships on the recording. After all, someone singing an a-capella version of a song is still singing the notes.


(Sorry to resurrect a 5-year-old thread, but this came up while I was replying to What is to be considered a remix? .)

If this is the commonly-accepted definition of “karaoke” and “instrumental”, then I’m worried that MB’s relationship names and descriptions are causing confusion.

Most of the releases and tracks that I come across that call themselves “instrumental” seem to meet your definition of “karaoke”, i.e. the original recordings minus the vocal tracks without a new instrument added to play the melody:

Relationship Type / Karaoke - MusicBrainz has the following description (emphasis mine):

This is used to link a karaoke version of a song to the original song.

A karaoke version is a version of the song with the main vocals removed, designed to be used for karaoke. These are generally produced from the original masters by muting the main vocal track or by using post-processing filters to remove the vocals. Karaoke versions can be found labelled in numerous different ways other than “karaoke”: instrumental (even if backing vocals are still present), off vocal, backing track, etc.

I don’t have any reason to believe that the examples I gave were “designed to be used for karaoke” (“a type of interactive entertainment usually offered in clubs and bars, where people sing along to recorded music using a microphone” per Wikipedia), so I wouldn’t use this relationship type for any of them.

Relationship Attribute / Instrumental - MusicBrainz has this description:

For works that have lyrics, this indicates that those lyrics are not relevant to this recording. Examples include instrumental arrangements, or “beats” from hip-hop songs which may be reused with different lyrics.

This seems to deliberately include hip-hop backing tracks with vocal tracks removed from the mix. Like you, I wouldn’t want to use a recording-work relationship for these since it’s a “loose” type that only relates the new recording to the original composition (rather than to the original recording).

Going just by the official guidance, I’d probably be most likely to choose either Relationship Type / Edit - MusicBrainz or Relationship Type / Remix - MusicBrainz for “minus-the-vocals” recordings. Here’s how Terminology - MusicBrainz describes “remix” (emphasis in the original):

A substantially altered version of a song, produced by mixing together individual tracks or segments of one or more source works. The artist doing the remixing can be the original artist. The source audio material can be from any part of the process; including the final mix, master, remaster, or original raw audio materials. If the tracks have been significantly modified, more than is necessary to produce a continuous mix, then the action described by relationships is considered to be remixing, not compilation or DJ mixing. Note: not everything called “remix” is really a remix in the classic sense. In hip hop especially, it’s typical to call “remix” to a new version of a song with different guest rappers; these should probably not be linked to any artist as “remixer”.

I think that it would be clearer if “designed to be used for karaoke” were removed from the “karaoke version of” description. I’d probably go further and rename the type as well if that’s feasible. If “instrumental” isn’t an option, maybe “minus-vocals version of” or “vocal-less version of”? I’m not sure that there’s any good word for this in English.


Yes, or backing tracks is also a possible name.
It should be minus-lead-vocals version of, btw.
Because backing vocals are kept.
But karaoke is also not wrong.
I wonder how we could keep all these synonyms visible…