Okay, first things first. I'm not sure if I should be
posting this in the expert forum. Maybe this falls
under style, or maybe this falls under something else.
Please let me know so I will better direct this kind
of idea in the future, thank you. Also, please forgive
me if this subject has already been discussed and
agreed upon. I wish the archives were easier to
search. Hopefully, if nothing else, this will be a
new look at an existing issue. Finally, thanks to all
who read this and give it thought, even if you don't
The idea is fairly simple, but it may have deeper
implications. Essentially, I think it would be smart
if the musicbrainz database had a special category for
soundtracks/live musicals/scores. This would make
sense for a few reasons. 1) It can get confusing when
searching MB for a soundtrack/score and running into
the other 2)it gets even more confusing when searching
for the soundtrack for a musical and not knowing if
the results are a specific live performance or the
soundtrack for the film version. 3)It adds yet more
issues when the question of how to list the
artist/performing artist for the album/song. Do we
want to list the performer of a song if it is an actor
who otherwise is not a musician for the sake of them
having one entry? epsecially if this actor a)shares
the name of another musician or b)sings duets with
other actors on the soundtrack, thus creating multiple
listings of artists that all lead to this one album?
I hope that made sense, and with that hope, let me
1) The issue of a live (let's say broadway)
performance of a musical, could be seen as a style
issue that is already solved with the style guidline
on how to enter classical/operatic perfomances into
the database, specifcally where the album would be
listed under the composer of the music (let's say
leonard bernstein) and the title of the album would
be, for example "West Side Story" with accurate info
on the production company and primary performers.
While this would resolve the issue of multiple
performances showing up in a search, it would not help
any of the issues with movie soundtracks and it would
still leave out information on who is performing each
song. Also, as a quick aside, it leaves out which
character is singing. I bring this up only as an
aside, as it could be resolved by adding the
characters' names as a parenthetical after the title
of the track. I think this should be seriously
considered as a style guidline for showtunes, but I
2) Most people, when they think of soundtracks, think
of a collection of songs that were played during the
film that have been released by the studio to
accompany the movie. Soundtracks like "The Big
Chill", "Batman Forever", or "The Big Lebowski" are
great examples of soundtracks like this. They usually
are a mix of artists and already existing songs (or
made for the film, but stand on their own). I collect
soundtracks like these because they give me the mood
of the film while at the same time give me a variety
of songs without getting a cheesy "Time Life
Presents:" style mix tape. (Quick aside, I also like
to put together my own mix of "unauthorized and
complete soundtracks" for films, but as we all know,
that's verboten on MB.) These types of soundtracks
easily fit into MB's "Various Artists" category, under
soundtrack. However, music scores and soundtracks for
musicals are not so simple. Within this paragraph,
I've pointed out 3 types of albums that could be
considered "soundtracks", and on top of that, there is
a fourth: the single artist soundtrack. For those
that don't know what this refers to, some films have
only one artist make the entire soundtrack. This
would not be considered a "score" usually, as the
songs usually have lyrics and are arranged more like
the standard 3-4 minute song for the radio rather than
long classical-like compositions. To add to this
whole mess, some soundtracks like this have multiple
artists per track, but are considered to be the work
of the primary artist. Getting to the point... Each of
these types of soundtrack are unique and it seems to
me that they each present individual issues for style:
1) Standard Soundtrack: Most Simple, Typically Various
Artists, with artists that usually have other albums
or appear on other albums.
2) Score: More like a classical work, where the
composer/arranger should be considered the artist, and
any symphony or band listed after the album title.
3)Musical: Could be dealt with similar to "classical"
but either at the cost of leaving out track details or
adding artists to each track that creates a mess. Also
easily confused with stage versions of production.
4)Single Artist Soundtrack: Fairly simple, since
guest artists can be listed for each track, but
confusing as far as whether it is more of an "Album"
by the artist or a "soundtrack".
It can also, it should be noted, be confusing to MB
users with various organization systems where to file
their music. I put all of my soundtracks under
"Various Artists", including scores. But if the
soundtrack is a single artist and the soundtrack is
more of an example of the artist than the film, I keep
the album with the artist. But what about stage
versions? Should these be kept in their own folder,
with movie soundtracks? with the composer of the
film? In the end, this is a personal decison and
doesn't stop the earth on its axis, but anything MB
can do to make these types of albums more distinct as
well as making sure all relevant details are included
helps the MB users and keeps the database easier to
search and crossrefrence... In a nutshell, a musical,
even one that is filmed, is not really the same as the
"soundtrack" for a film, thus it should really be
grouped with other musicals rather than soundtracks.
Ideally, Various Artist Soundtracks, Musicals, and
Single Artist (or band) Soundtracks should be grouped
accordingly and not all mixed together.
Okay, I'm sorry if that was way too much build up, but
here is the most basic version of my idea...once again
thank you to those who are reading this and understand
why these are important issues for the MB project...
So, my suggestion for these issues is this:
1) Create a new category (or subcategory) for
musicals. The primary category would be "musical",
the sub categories would be "Film/Cinema/Movie" and
"Stage/Live". The artists would always be listed as
the composer and thus the album would be listed under
that artist's name, and the stage information most
relevant would be listed in the title of the album.
Thus, if someone went to "Leonard Bernstien", they
would scroll down to the "musicals" category and
easily see the film versions as well as the stage
versions and see from the titles which ones were
which. It should also be pointed out, quickly, that
if a song by leonard bernstien is used in a film that
he didn't compose the music for, at this point that
film's soundtrack shows up under "soundtracks", which,
given the current system, makes this random soundtrack
and the musicals he composed grouped together.
Another reason why a new category should be released
is because sometimes a broadway company will record
songs from a show in a studio for commercial release.
Is this a soundtrack or is it live? or it an album?
Basically, if musicals, both film and stage, had their
own category, this would separate them from the other
types of soundtracks and make it clearer when
searching for an artist or an album what the nature of
the "soundtrack" is.
2) My second suggestion deals with the issue of the
Right up front, I want to again suggest that the style
council strongly encourage in its guidlines that
characters (or groups of characters) be included in
the track name. This adds more information to the
database and to the user as well as making users files
more detailed and fun (simple example: The song
"Officer Krupke" is sung by "The Jets" in West Side
Story, and having that in the title both adds to
listening to it and helps the listener better versed
when discussing the song to others).
As far as musicals and adding artists go: Whether it
a film or musical, it seems that if a song is done by
a large group or the entire cast, the artist should
not be adapted and left as the primary artist. The
thought of leonard bernstein singing all of the parts
of "America" is silly, but a fair trade for keeping
things simple. Another consideration is to have the
artist listed as "Cast". This touches on another
issue in MB, where generica artist titles like
"unknown" get grouped into one big blob. But such a
placeholder could work, if the community perffered it,
As far as indidual artists go, it seems reasonable to
list the solo artists for a solo performance. If,
when looking at film musicals, the actor did their own
singing, they deserve to be listed. However if
someone else did the singing, that person deserves a
credit and shouldn't be overlooked by MB as they have
probably been everywhere else.
As far as duets and groups go, this issue is larger
and my solution is not as easy as the others. I have
suggested it elsewhere but never saw it come to light.
Here it is, as simple as i can make it:
1)when a new artist needs to be added, if the artist
is a one-time or one-album pairing of two artists,
this should be designated when the artist is added.
This would mean that a new category like "one time
collaboration" or "One-Album Collaboration" category
would appear, in addition to "person" and "group".
This new artist would then have that information
attatched and any neccessary relationships could be
automatically generated from that category.
2)Going with the above suggestion, if this "one time
collaboration" category were created, it could even be
more broad, something like "collaboration" could be
the category. The idea would be that, if this
category were chosen, MB would generate fields for two
artists, and any other relevant detail fields, and
give the option of adding more artists than just two.
The user adding the artist would enter each artist
into a separate field and MB would check to see if any
of the artists were already in the DB. If they are,
it pulls that info, if they aren't, it asks the user
to add that individual artist. This would help for
musicals where different actors pair off for differnt
songs but MB doesn't need an artist listing for each
of these pairings and also help with the larger issue
of when, say, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra do a duet
together, but haven't done a full album together or
perhaps did a "Rat Pack" album, but did one song on
the album as a duet..etc etc.
Okay, so thanks again for the consideration. I hope
this all made sense and stayed more or less close to a
relevant and useful idea, rather than my ramblings.
What it comes down to is assuring that those users of
MB who have a specific interest in musicals, both in
stage and film form, get the proper style and database
entrys, as well as detailed information on albums and
songs, that they deserve. The same attention that is
necessary for the many recordings of classical works
should be given to this category of music, and it
should not just be spread out over other categories.
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