Music Discovery Requirements

II.I Musical Works: Topical Subjects

True topical headings for music materials are confined to describing what music is about, but many musical works are not objectively about anything. Therefore, true topical headings are both less important and less common for music materials than for books.. In the terminology of the IFLA-LRM, true topical headings are expressions of relationship LRM-R12, in which a work “has as subject” the res or concept in question. Subjects of musical works may include associated concepts, names of persons or bodies, and geographic areas (i.e., music about a geographic area, as distinguished from music emanating from a geographic area). In LCSH, topical headings for music materials are usually created by adding the form subdivisions “Songs and music” or (for dramatic musical works such as opera) “Drama” to non-musical headings. These subdivisions hold little meaning when separated from the rest of the heading, so it is important that the entire heading string be displayed as a unit and be able to function as a unit.

Currently, topically coded subject headings are also assigned to identify non-topical aspects including: music of national, religious, and ethnic groups (see also II.J and III.K,) often by adding the form subdivision “Music” to an otherwise topical heading; the source of text set, by employing the title of a liturgical text or adding the subdivision “Musical settings”; and temporal coverage, often via date subdivisions (addressed in II.F and III.I).

Medium of performance (addressed in II.D and III.G); and genre/form (addressed in II.H) are special cases because LCMPT and LCGFT vocabularies are now complete, but cleanup of LCSH and legacy data is still in progress, and subject terms are still assigned in addition to Medium of Performance and Genre/Form terms.[1] Therefore, given the large number of attributes of music materials that have been historically coded as subjects and the changes underway (particularly with genre/form and medium of performance), discovery services need to allow maximum flexibility and be able to accommodate the full range of subject-related fields. Additionally, subject search algorithms should be customizable by individual libraries so they may leverage the data contained in their information systems.

Musical works may be the subject of topical works. These topical works can be assigned subject headings consisting of the standardized title of the work (including composer, if applicable). The same controlled vocabulary is currently recorded for musical works as both titles and subjects, but the indexing and display should make the distinction clear. It could be useful to provide functionality for moving from the actual work to materials about the work and vice versa.

Recommendation: Index and display subject fields. For data using standardized vocabulary, make it possible for users to link from standardized vocabulary terms within the record display to other materials associated with the same attribute/entity. This could be accomplished through use of bound texts strings for full authorized terms or via identifiers functioning behind the scenes. Subdivisions are important to music materials, so make it possible for users to view and interact with the entire subject string as a unit.

Because current music subject headings frequently include non-topical aspects, many interfaces will choose to combine all these aspects into one index or facet area for the near future. However, this area should be watched closely for updates as data encoding and recording standards change. To avoid frustrating or misleading results, faceting systems should recognize and respect the distinctions between subject and genre thesauri (LCSH, LCGFT, FAST, etc.) even if they share identical strings as headings.

Index and Display (Bibliographic/Descriptive Metadata):

Also note: II.F, III.I (dates); II.D, III.G (medium of performance); II.H (genre/form); II.G. (persons/corporate bodies); II.J, III.K (geographic area)

MARC: 043 Geographic Area Code (display code in vernacular)

MARC: 6XX Subject Access Fields

Dublin Core: subject

EBUCore: hasSubject

MODS: subject

PBCore: pbcoreSubject + subjectType

BIBFRAME 2.0: Classes: bf:Topic; Properties: bf:subject

Facets/Limits (Bibliographic/Descriptive Metadata):

MARC: 043 Geographic Area Code (display code in vernacular)

MARC: 6XX Subject Access Fields

Dublin Core: subject

EBUCore: hasSubject

MODS: subject

PBCore: pbcoreSubject + subjectType

BIBFRAME 2.0: Classes: bf:Topic; Properties: bf:subject

Related MARC Authority Fields:

MARC: 100; 110; 111; 130; 150; 151; 180


[1] MLA Best Practices for Using LCMPT (Feb. 14, 2017) and MLA Best Practices For Using LCGFT for Music Resources version 1.0 (June 8, 2015) both instruct to continue using LCSH until LCGFT and LCMPT “terms are fully implemented, and a method for generating genre and medium of performance terms… from headings currently coded as LCSH have been developed and deployed.” See most current versions on MLA Best Practices website: http://www.musiclibraryassoc.org/BlankCustom.asp?page=cmc_mlabestpractices