What is a "Soundtrack"

Clearly that answer is “no” but I think it’s too specific. “Was this music created for a soundtrack” is the one I would ask myself to decide if it is a soundtrack.

I can think of three relevant questions, where yes to any of them might be considered “a soundtrack”:

  • Was this music composed for a soundtrack?
  • Is this recording intended to be used on a soundtrack?
  • Was this recording actually used in a soundtrack?

And some examples:

  • Alex North’s soundtrack to 2001: Written for a movie, only recordings were remade much later and never intended to be used.
  • “Unchained” melody: Written for a movie, One recording was used in the movie, but most are not intended for soundtrack use or for anything other than a pop cover song.
  • A Clockwork Orange: Written for a movie, recordings intended for soundtrack, only partially used in the actual movie.
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But that’s already answered at the work level. Why would that question be re-asked at the release-group level?

Your examples are good grey-area ones, and I can see the impulse to mark those “soundtrack”.


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Sorry @CallerNo6, but could you explain what you mean by “at the work level”. Do you mean setting the work type=soundtrack?

Yes, exactly. The nature of the composition is described at the work level. How that’s done currently might not be ideal, but that’s a different topic :slight_smile:

I would expect the release group type to describe the nature of the album, not the nature of the compositions.

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I agree, what I believe @Hawke is saying is that the release type is determined by what the work type of the recordings is:

But besides, doesn’t the documentation specify that only a full soundtrack should be set to work type=soundtrack, from https://musicbrainz.org/doc/Style/Work:

John Williams’ soundtrack for Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is set to “Soundtrack”, but the Imperial March should not be.

All the works performed in my example release, https://musicbrainz.org/release/591d1d14-af8a-4c2a-8d55-2630468e0e20
are only parts (or excerpts) of full soundtracks, therefore I can’t see how the release could be thought of as a “compilation of soundtracks”.
To me a compilation of soundtracks brings to mind something like this,

I would not call the original album mentioned a soundtrack, but just “Album”. Whether the songs are originally from soundtracks seems irrelevant - this RG is not a soundtrack to anything nor intended as such.


It’d sure be a big friggin’ help if the guideline gave a clue as to why the hell that is. Anybody around when that decision was made? Was it because it was premiered before the movie opened? Is it a derivative of the score that doesn’t actually appear in the movie? Or is the idea that only the top-level full score be set to “Soundtrack”, but portions of it should not.

Judging from the other “parts” of the ESB work, it looks like that was the intent. None of the other parts are marked as a “Soundtrack” work type, but they do appear on the ESB release, which is marked as a Soundtrack.

So apparently the Work and Release definitions for the Soundtrack type aren’t consistent. I don’t interpret the definition as meaning a compilation of music from soundtracks isn’t actually a soundtrack, or that it has to be the original recording. It’s still music that was originally composed for film (or TV, etc.). Besides, we use the Soundtrack type for Theatre releases too, regardless of when it was recorded.

(Or else you could interpret it the other way and say soundtrack means the same thing for work as it does for release, and the definition that “a soundtrack is the musical score to a movie…” really does mean not to use Soundtrack unless it’s the entire score to a single film.)

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To the best of my knowledge, this. :slight_smile:

This. The whole score for the film is a Soundtrack, but one specific piece in it is not - it’s just a piece of music (it could be anything from a Song to a Sonata). In the same way as we wouldn’t set all parts of an opera as Opera, but would mark them as Overture or Aria where relevant (and Recitative, if we had that type, which I sometimes wonder if we shouldn’t).


So is the “Soundtrack” Release Type supposed to be the same or different than the Work Type?

Similar, but relatively unrelated. The work type was mostly intended for parent works for scores - I wouldn’t expect a soundtrack work to be added and linked when a soundtrack for a film consists mostly of songs that were previously composed and released unrelated to the film, but I’d expect it when the entire soundtrack is the specific compositional work of one or more composers (which can of course still be added as a work even if there’s no official recording of any of the music outside of the film itself).

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So if I understand you @reosarevok, the work types of these, as they’re desribed are:
Soundtrack to 2001 = soundtrack
Unchained Melody = song
A Clockwork Orange = soundtrack

OK, how about an album of songs from various bands, but that were written specifically for a movie? Something like Spawn or Batman & Robin? The release would be Soundtrack for sure, but what about the Work types for the songs? I mean, they were created for and were using in the movie, and there’s no master work for them to be a part of.

@reosarevok, this is my interpretation of what you’ve said, as per the difference between Work type and Release type.

Work type “soundtrack” = full musical score of some other (non-MB) entity, be it film, tv show, video game, etc. Part of a score doesn’t count, similiar to how part of an “opera” is not type=opera.

Release type “soundtrack” = Release in support of some other (non-MB) entity, be it film, tv show, video game, etc. Whether or not the recordings on the release are of works with type=soundtrack is irrelevant. A soundtrack release has to be said to be the soundtrack of something as in: “Release X is the soundtrack of Y”.

If they’re songs, they’re songs, IMO. If we had multiple options, then we could argue whether to set them as Soundtrack as well (I wouldn’t), but as it is, the most relevant type is surely Song.


I agree. I’m just pointing out a corner case.

Yeah, I can see your point there. What I don’t like about using a very restrictive definition of “soundtrack” is that it comes down to basically a marketing decision. Reosarevok stated [the soundtrack compilation case] as “this RG is not a soundtrack to anything nor intended as such.” Where does that intent lie: in the composition, in the recording, in the marketing?

Among others, the original Blade Runner soundtrack consisted of “jazz-inspired, orchestrated renditions of the major tracks from the film, but not the original score tracks.” yet I assume we consider that to be a soundtrack.

I might have been better to state it as “a compilation of soundtrack music”.

Compare to the Back to the Future soundtrack which has music from three different movies.

Sorry to revive this old thread, I didn’t want to create another topic, but is this right? I’ve read this whole discussion and I still don’t understand if Single + Soundtrack is correct or not.

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IMO, the edit you link is correct to remove “Soundtrack.”

The single is not “the soundtrack” – it is a single taken from the soundtrack, which is noted in the single/EP which was taken from: relationship.

I think reosaravok said it pretty plainly:

It would be nice if the documentation clarified this. As it is, the Release Group / Type page limits the Soundtrack type to musical scores only, so it doesn’t even differentiate “pop” soundtracks. For that, you have to go to Style / Specific types of releases / Soundtrack, and glean it from the statement "Film scores (which showcase the background music of a film/show) should not be merged with pop soundtracks". I might work on a revision to this and submit to the wiki.