Titles for works which are parts of other works

Continuing the discussion from Voting/Auto-editor Request Thread:

This doesn’t need to start a big discussion (or any discussion!) but I wanted to move it off the other thread just in case it does. When a work is a “suite” of other works, sometimes the titles of these other works are in the database as “Suite Title: Part Title” or some variation on that. As far as I can see, there is nothing in the style guide about these cases, but I have made a few edits to simplify this to just “Part Title”. Nobody has really complained, but it was suggested to write something about the pros and cons to get more community input if people feel strongly about it – I thought this was a good idea, so this is that.

To minimise confusion, none of this is meant to apply to titles of the form “Suite Title, Part One” etc – I am only addressing cases in which the part has a standalone title that either is used, or could reasonably be used, to refer to the part on its own. (This sometimes actually happens, e.g. on live albums where only some parts of the suite are performed, and there are instances where only the part title is used in the ISCW database.) This is also only about non-classical works: for me this comes up primarily because of the progressive rock trope of a very long song with individually named sections.


  1. Redundancy / page design: in all cases I can think of where the part work appears on a page, the suite work linked to it will also appear. So if the suite title is repeated in the part title, this title will appear (at least) twice, which can look a bit odd. Examples include the page for the suite work, which lists all its parts, the page for the part work, which lists the containing suite, and the recording page for any recording linked to the part work, which also lists the suite work. Same for the credits on any release including this recording.
    That last one is, a bit surprisingly, one-directional: if only the suite work is linked to a recording (e.g. because the whole suite was programmed as a single track on a CD release), the part works do not appear in the credits for the release. They do appear on the recording page though.
  1. Site trends: this is a stronger pro for me, as long as it is actually correct. I think there has been a general trend, as MB has added more features to the database, to move information out of the title field for entities when it can be recorded more naturally in other ways. In this case the suite title can be removed from the title of the part work, and recorded as a relationship instead. (Conversely, part titles can be removed from a suite work title and recorded as relationships as well.) An extreme case of this is extra title information: on most artist pages I view it is extremely common to see ETI like “(instrumental)” or “(5.1 mix)” moved from the title to the disambiguation field, even though the style guide arguably says that this should only be done for live performance information. So I am just applying this principle to a different situation (in which the style guide does not discourage it!) – because of point (1), the information removed from the title in this way remains very visible when the work is used, so I don’t think anything is really lost.
    The issue here is that obviously I only frequently view a tiny proportion of the artist pages on MB, and by extension the work of quite a small number of editors, so there is a chance my impression about this trend could be completely wrong.


  1. Searching: This could make it harder to find the work. I think most of the time this is ok, since the part titles are just as common or uncommon as other work titles. There are two main exceptions I can think of: “Overture” is disproportionately common as the title of the first part in a suite (including cases in which the same artist re-uses it several times) and it can happen that one part shares its title with the whole suite, leading to two works with the same title. In both of these cases, I would always add a disambiguation comment at least, but this probably does not resolve the issue completely. On the comment thread for a recent edit I was reminded about aliases, so the title of the form “Suite Title, Part Title” (and common variations) could be added as one of these to aid searching – obviously this is a very good idea, which might solve the problem more or less completely, but I don’t know if there are some limitations.
  1. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it: Can’t really argue with that, I’m just a pedant who likes consistency. (Especially on the list of works for a single artist, but even across different artists to the extent that this is possible.)

If this does take off as a discussion, it could be good to address the related question of how these kinds of situations are dealt with in track listings on release pages: two relevant edits are here and here.


Is this about works, or about tracks? Your edits seem to be about tracks.

For classical music there’s a clear answer on the guideline:

When the release’s printed tracklist groups tracks that are part of a work together under a heading for the overall work title (with the printed track titles being movement or part titles), then add the overall work title (as listed in the heading) to all tracks from the work, separated with a colon.

For non-classical, where this is less common but clearly also happens (in prog rock and the like) I have no clear answer - I like the classical model and would still use it, personally, but I would expect Ayreon fans would not like my admittedly very long version “The Final Experiment: Act I “The Dawning”: The Banishment: a) A New Dawn – b) The Gathering – c) The Accusation – d) The Banishment – e) Oblivion” :slight_smile:

This is primarily about works: I added that final sentence about tracks, with relevant edits, because it is a related issue, but perhaps it was a bad idea to mix the two.

I failed to obviously link to the edit (to a work) which actually prompted the post: it’s this one. (It might be a bad example: it’s arguably a classical work by MB’s definition, but because it’s associated to a non-classical artist, I just didn’t think of it this way – looks like jesus2099 did the same based on the comment. Perhaps just imagine a totally analogous edit for a non-classical work, if you think there should be a distinction between the two cases.)

For classical works I definitely prefer the current style “Work name: Movement name”, for example “Guitar Sonata in A major, MS 84 no. 1: I. Minuetto”.

Removing main work name and keeping only movement name may create many works with absolutely identical names like “Minuetto” or “Allegretto”, making search for the right work more complicated and error-prone. This effect is especially huge for classical music of XVIII - XIX centuries, where movement name is most often just a tempo indication.