The "When is it a soundtrack / when is it classical?" question

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This idea has the great benefit (if implemented) of allowing all “classical” releases to be IDed in the database, which would then allow a user to use strings or whatever to reformat metadata to their preferences - this would allow all users to be happy with the classical metadata provided by MB. (As far as I can see.)


Pretty sure that’s already possible with performance ARs, work/recording names, etc.


I’m swimming but as I understand things, at present the user who wishes to reformat the classical metadata has to select each classical release manually.
If there was a classical flag then they could select all their classical releases with one click.

This ‘flag’ approach could also be used as a stop-gap solution to the classical/soundtrack quandary.
Create an ‘edge case’ flag and if a release is disputed wrt classical/soundtrack then after very brief discussion, flag it as an edge case and let the active editor continue unimpeeded with their good work.

We would effectively pass the classical/soundtrack problem onto future generations of editors. And surely they’ll be more intelligent than us and come up with a simple fix.


Classical is not really my thing but it makes complete sense to somehow tag if we use classical tracklist style or not.


Can I get a link to one of these disputed releases?

If you go by the nature of the release, it seems clear to me. Something is packaged/presented as a soundtrack or it isn’t.


My assumption here is that this should be a workflow thing in the tagger: If I wish to tag a particular release in a particular way, it’s up to me to configure my tagger to use Musicbrainz data appropriately. For example, “$set(artist,%composer%)” (If I recall Picard syntax correctly).

If the data doesn’t exist in Musicbrainz, I can add it; if Picard doesn’t know about a specific AR I want, then it can always be changed so that it does (or I could use another tagger which does understand those ARs)


The problem is if I dont know what guidelines are being used I don’t know what the data represents. So for example the track artist doesnt usually store the composer (unless they are also the performer) for Pop/Rock but it generally would if following Classical guidleines. The trouble is many serious classical users really do not want the composer to be set
as the artist (.e Retrieve Album/CD title using Track Title, Track Artist, Label and Catalog#)

so the Hawkes Picard example is the opposite of what is wanted, what they want to do is ‘not set trackartist if from Musicbrainz TrackArtist field if using Classical Guidelines’ which is why a flag would be useful

What is classical?

But you do: That’s what ARs do.

My point is that the person doing the tagging knows what they want to do, and can script accordingly. Not that the example will work perfectly for what everyone wants to do. Maybe someone wants "$set(artist,$if2(%performer%,%composer%,)). Maybe it’s "$set(artist, %performer[orchestra]%).

It doesn’t really matter what precisely someone wants, they should be able to script it into whatever they want without changing the track/release artists in Musicbrainz proper. It doesn’t even matter whether Picard is currently capable of getting the exact effect someone wants (e.g. there is nothing like “$recordingartist” in Picard). The principle is that the way someone wants to use the data is independent of what guidelines should say about how Musicbrainz itself wants to display that data.

Picard can always be improved; other classical-specific tagger utilities can be developed, but the data is all there in the ARs if you want to use it.


I agree with the ‘The principle is that the way someone wants to use the data is
independent of what guidelines should say about how Musicbrainz itself
wants to display that data’

but it should be possible for someorne to get the data from MusicBrainz and understand what it represents.

If the ARs have been entered they can be used as they are applied consistently. But they are optional and if they have not been entered they cannot be used. In contrast albumartist/trackartist/artist will always be available but it is currently not clear for a given release what the value of these artist fields represents as they are overloaded for different guidelines and there is no indication of what guideline is being used for a particular release.


I think that points more towards adding ARs where possible than it does toward redefining what a track artist means. I don’t know that it’s explicitly defined anywhere in Musicbrainz but I believe the general concept for the “normal” case is to get fairly close to whatever’s on the cover; a lot of what the guidelines do follows that. It seems to me that they are mostly there to clarify what you should do in the odd cases where that’s not obvious.

I think that’s the case with all of the “specific types of release” guidelines, as classical which has both performers and composers that apply to every track and release, and with soundtracks which sometimes don’t explicitly list any artists at all, and with stage musicals which prominently credit lyricists as well, and are often performed by groups that are unspecified and we’d rather not have in Musicbrainz as groups.


Hmm you dont seem to be understanding my point when you say ‘then it does towards redefining what a track artist means’ and ‘what you should do in the odd cases where its not that obvious’

I’m not for one minute suggesting we should redefine what it means rather that the Classical Release guidelines already do dramatically redefine what they mean without there being anything in the release to indicate that they have been redefined. And the whole Classical genre can hardly be described as an odd case.


The issue is that track artist means absolutely nothing. Generally in MusicBrainz, they kinda-sorta mean “who is given credit for this”. For classical, they still mean “who is given credit for this” (but they pick one of the credits instead of other). The difference is much smaller than it seems. There’s nothing anywhere in MB that says track artist should be the/a performer for non-classical: they’re usually who’s credited, but it can also be a producer / writer / narrator / remixer / DJ-mixer / compiler (I’m sure there are edge cases that are even less expected than that).

And that is, in my opinion, a problem rather than a good thing: the current MB structure forces an album and track artist even in places where it makes absolutely no sense, which is what causes struggles with stuff like classical in the first place, and it makes relationships feel like secondary data: in fact, relationships are the most important, useful data, and not only for classical music.


calestyo and Hawke are the ones who, I think, found a release they could not agree about.


Yes track artist is difficult as it can be different things, sure for non-classical it might not be the performer but is generally who you would expect, i.e usually the performer unless the producer/writer is more important. But with Classical we dont go for “who is given credit for this” we always pick the composer, and then we always pick the performer for recording artist so its distinctly different.

Relationships are good because they clearly define the role, but the user interface does not encourage their entry, so you cannot rely on them being available.

But a trackartist does (almost) always make some sort of sense in that it should reflect “who is given credit for this” and this in itself is useful, i.e even if you have the various ARs added the trackartist captures “who is given main credit for this” for this track which the ARs do not. To put it another way you may have composer, conductor and performer ARs but to find out who was the main credit on the track you would need the release itself if there was no track artist.

And personally I think the Classical guidelines are wrong they should indicate “who is credited for this” rather than always specifying the composer regardless of what is on the release notes. But seeing that they do deviate dramatically
some sort of flag would be useful.


My main point is that classical at least doesn’t have a “main credit for the track”, and we’re just trying to construct one to force reality into badly-designed ID3-style fields.


This is not about ID3, I think most listeners of music be they using iTunes, Sonos or a car Stereo would expect to be a able to see a ‘Track Artist’ set to something, even if these players supported displaying all MusicBrainz relationships they do not want to see a big list of track relationships. You cant not have track artists.

It seems to me quite simple really, after al when a song is played on the radio the presenter will in some way announce the name of the song and who it is by in some way, even for Classical.


Yes, and that in many cases is both the composer and the orchestra (and maybe even the conductor). Which leads me to think whether we should utilize the artist credits system to better credit classical music.


Yet a blank “track artist” is still basically meaningless, hence my issue with it. In an ideal situation, we’d just not have any for classical music and other similar genres in MB (where they’re irrelevant since we’re not dealing with files), and allow taggers to construct whatever the user wants from relationships when tagging.

I feel I’d only support this if the change made the system much simpler to use for the average editor somehow.

  • I really like performer as recording artist for navigation purposes (but the current UI makes it a pain).
  • In most cases I don’t care at all what track artist is, since we barely use that one in MB, although the composer being at least part of it makes it easier to find stuff that needs fixing (where the user hasn’t added any relationships).
  • I like our current release artist style mostly because it allows the releases to be “filed” under all the most relevant artists where people will look for them.

More generally though, the main reason I’d possibly be in favour of a “this is classical” flag is because that would allow us to automatically redirect the user to the relationship editor after entering the release itself. Which is arguably useful in all cases, but I guess could be overwhelming for someone just adding some pop, while for a classical music listener this might not be such an unexpected step.


Is a lecture-recital series by Andras Schiff on some Joseph Haydn works a classical release?

Artist= Joseph Haydn;Andras Schiff
Artist= Andras Schiff


Is it Haydn’s music with Schiff’s commentary, or just Schiff talking about Haydn?