When does classical style apply to film music albums?

Can we get some eyes on this, please? Another “CSG or not” edit. This editor has a long list of open edits right now doing the same thing, and I believe they are against the norm. The sooner we can get a consensus, the better we can avoid a lot of undo work, if you agree with my take on it.


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Classical absolutely does not apply to Soundtracks, though the edits in question aren’t for soundtracks.

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I agree that the edits in question are not for soundtracks, but I disagree completely that CSG does not apply to classical soundtracks. “Soundtrack,” when it’s in the form of orchestral music (as opposed to pop, jazz, etc.), is simply a modern genre of classical music.

I’m seeing the term “cinematic classical” coming into use as a name for this genre.

I commented on the edit in question, but to clarify here too for other forum users:

For what it’s worth, although it’s not wrong to say a classical-style score is a piece of classical music, we do have specific soundtrack guidelines we use, rather than the classical ones, when a piece of orchestral music is also a soundtrack album. These guidelines used to be more different from the classical ones, and the last revision brought them significantly closer (for example, the recordings should be credited to the performers only on both soundtracks and CSG), but there’s still a few differences that should be followed when editing an actual soundtrack album.

The albums in question do not seem to me like soundtrack albums, but just an orchestra playing film music in the same way they would play Bach or contemporary classical; as such, for these sorts of albums, I’d personally pick CSG over Soundtrack.


One of the problems that happens when CSG is used for covers of film soundtracks is you loose visibility of real soundtracks on a artists page. You flood Howard Shore, John Barry, etc with with cover versions like this. It then gets doubled up when some guy with a synth knocks out his versions of Vangelis’s Bladerunner.

This then becomes a tangled mess later down the line when someone merges recordings and you find Howard Shore’s own performances of Lord of the Rings gets mixed up with covers by orchestras like “The City of Prague Philharmonic”. Vangelis was especially suffering from this.

@Beckfield - I read Wikipedia’s Classical page when double checking the advice and votes I was getting from respected AEs. There is no Film on there at all.
And MB’s own Soundtrack page was being check, but there is nothing specific in there for Covers of soundtracks, but what I was doing still followed that while updating with advice given.

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Calling this a cover IMO is like calling someone performing a Beethoven concerto a cover. I understand some film composers conduct their own scores, but many others don’t. In that sense, every performance is as valid as the original one.

The solution for this should be to have proper relationships and recording artists for each performance. If someone still merges the recordings, then it would not have been helped by soundtrack vs CSG since both of them anyway say to use the performers as recording artists, so it should be obvious the orchestra and conductor differ when merging.

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Since I am the editor whose edit brought to open this topic, I want to say that I’m not trying to blatantly ignore the rules, but my long list of open edits came as a result of seeing there’s a large consensus in not using CSG for re-recorded soundtracks: after seeing tons of these edits being done everyday, and much of these closing even earlier cause they get 3 unanimous yes (including votes from auto-editors), I thought this was the right way to deal with these kind of albums and I wanted to help to clean artists pages.

It’s also true that, like @ivandobsky said, a long list of bad merges have created a tangled mess that probably shouldn’t have happened if only these albums were kept separate, like on this Vangelis recording https://musicbrainz.org/recording/b4c2e65a-a05c-47ed-bd2b-5438a45e92b3

While these are just a couple of examples of the upvoted edits mentioned above, but there are actually several hundreds of them:

Up until this thread I was lead to believe that soundtracks are not classical so were not to be treated like Beethoven. The use of an Orchestra didn’t make it classical.

Artists like John Barry perform a lot of their own work, outside of soundtracks. Putting his name on the front of the credits of performances by The City of Prague Philharmonic of his film music means it is impossible to query the MB database for a discography of John Barry’s Releases.

Those examples are not actually orchestras. They are a guy with a synth called Ed Starink.

Some of the people who voted on those are @chaban @chiark @chabreyflint @Cryoclaste and I would be interested in their feedback as they understand what those edits are doing.

This is admittedly an issue, but it doesn’t seem more of an issue than when we get classical versions of Frank Zappa music where Zappa doesn’t play but are also under Zappa as the composer and (one of the) release artist(s) :slight_smile:

I don’t quite follow that logic as there are many examples in the database of orchestras covering other types of music but not getting added to that artists discography. Covers of the Beatles by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra are not listed under Lennon and McCartney? [here, here],

What about a release group secondary type for Classical, mirroring the release group secondary type for Soundtrack? Release groups should not use both, unless maybe you’re dealing with a huge box set.


(I’m not trying to argue, I am genuinly confused)

Would you file this under Vangelis?

Cos that same guy also sticks “Orchestra” in his name a lot (as shown in edits linked in the posts above). So does this go under Ennio Morricone? It’s a bloke on a synth. “The Hollywood Screen Orchestra” is a made up name to sell the CD (And these same recordings are sold under many many different names…)

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Since I am now confused as well, could someone do me a practical example on how to properly credit an album like this (Release group “Jaws: Original Motion Picture Score” by John Williams, Joel McNeely, Royal Scottish National Orchestra - MusicBrainz) without just citing/linking me rules which are obviously open to different - and opposite - interpretations?

The album have the Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Joel McNeely covering the score from the Jaws movie originally composed by John Williams.

So, who should be credited as release group artist, release artist, artist on medium, and artist on recordings?

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I was voting on the basis you were attempting to sort out a very tangled and confused situation. I wasn’t thinking of these as classical tbh. However, re-reading the definition of “classical music” in the style guide, I can see how it could be seen that way - but only because the defintion is effectively “not just from the classical period”.

I’ve largely steered away from classical editing myself, because I don’t listen to it, and because it’s always felt like it’s trying to pull double-duty in directly providing visibility of the composer and the performers through an interface primarily oriented around performers, an issue which I would think should be solved by changing the interface rather than the data.


Since it is not the original soundtrack, but a re-recording of a classical score, it is subject to CSG, so:

  • Release AND RG artist: John Williams; Joel McNeely, Royal Scottish National Orchestra
  • Artist on medium: John Williams
  • Artist on Recordings: Joel McNeely, Royal Scottish National Orchestra

The cover art for the specific release you linked (from Discogs):

CSG says:

“The Release Artist of a classical Release should include the writers (composers, lyricists, librettists) and performers featured on the front cover (except when “Various Artists” is used, see below). Use only writers and performers who are featured on the front cover (or the spine); don’t add artists from the back cover or the inside of the booklet or other places.”

In both of those cases, the front cover does not mention Lennon and McCartney, so it’s correct that they are not listed as release/RG artists. If you drill down through recordings to works, Lennon and McCartney have Writer relationships.

Actually, now that I think about it, this would be a “classical crossover” genre.

I’ve certainly entered classical renditions of Lennon/McCartney music under their names before, see https://musicbrainz.org/release/ccbb2ccd-8507-4123-80af-2f1a4b7ba8b4 for a quick example (the tracks were already correctly attributed here, but I hadn’t fixed the release artist for some reason, fixed now). I expect because “The Beatles” are not the composers, people might have decided that those releases just didn’t credit the composers at all, and skipped them? I could see that argument :slight_smile:

Did you see the link I provided to Wikipedia’s list of classical music genres? It mentions Film Score and Soundtrack.

I’d say so, yes. It could be a bloke on a violin. Regardless of what he calls himself, this guy’s instrument is a synthesizer. He’s still playing Morricone’s compositions, and Morricone is credited on the cover. I have several classical albums where music written for, say, flute, is arranged for and performed on guitar. Electric Light Orchestra isn’t an orchestra either. :slight_smile:

In truth, when I checked a few of the classical soundtracks in my collection, following CSG and Soundtrack guidelines gave identical results.