Music Discovery Requirements

III.D Expressions and Manifestations: Format of Notated Music

Users need to distinguish between various formats of notated music (AACR2 term: musical presentation), such as full score, parts, vocal score, etc. This attribute does not apply to recorded performances of music. Most musical works are published in more than one format of notated music, and the different formats are not interchangeable in actual use. Users may casually refer to these variations as “editions,” but “format of notated music” is used here in order to make the distinction between format and intellectual content. Editions are covered in III.E.

Commonly used cataloging standards and metadata formats, and the legacy data encoded via these standards and formats, do not cleanly support searching and limiting/faceting by format of notated music. The information recorded under RDA and AACR2 is sufficient to allow informed users to identify the format of notated music when viewing a bibliographic record, but does not lend itself to machine manipulation for facets or limits. MARC coding for Format of Music (008/20, 006/03) is problematic due to changes over time that have resulted in inconsistencies among records. Mapping format of notated music to other metadata formats may present similar difficulties. MARC 348, Format of Notated Music, defined in 2015, accommodates controlled vocabularies in both textual and coded form. Form of notated music (e.g. staff notation) is coded in MARC 546 $b.

Format of notated music information may be scattered throughout the descriptive areas of a bibliographic record, including:


      extent/physical description (1 vocal score, 1 study score, 1 score + 4 parts, etc.). This vocabulary is consistently present, but multiple terms may be included in a subfield, e.g. 1 score + 4 parts.

      transcribed in edition (RDA, coded in MARC 250) or musical presentation (AACR2, coded in MARC 254) statements. This transcription relies on how, or if, information is presented on the resource. These statements, furthermore, may appear in various languages and may be abbreviated or even misleading.

      statement of responsibility in AACR2 records may include transcriptions or cataloger-supplied descriptions of musical presentation (e.g., vocal score).

      free-text notes.

The most promising source of format of notated music information comes from controlled vocabularies, in the form subdivisions currently used in LC subject headings and in format terms in LCGFT. The free-floating subdivisions in Pattern Headings: Musical Compositions (Subject Headings Manual (SHM) H 1160),[1] provides terms such as “Parts,” “Scores,” “Scores and Parts,” and “Vocal scores with piano” that could be exploited to provide users with facets/limits for commonly sought formats. However, the Subject Headings Manual dictates that these terms not be used with particular kinds of music (notably: works for solo instrument, voice and piano works, and popular music). LCGFT’s removal of restrictions based on medium or genre of music means that terms indicating format of notated music can be included in all records for notated music. For example, the LC subject heading coded in MARC 650 for a work for solo piano cannot contain the subdivision $v Scores, but the LCGFT term Scores can be assigned to that same work and coded in MARC 655 in the same bibliographic record.

Redundancy or near-redundancy of terms in current LC subject heading form subdivisions, LCGFT, and MARC 348 pose the risk of a proliferation of identical or similar terms in a facet/limit. A system that can de-duplicate identical strings from facet terms would avoid this problem.

An alternative for extracting consistent data for facets/limits may be to use MARC coding in 008/20 or 006/03, which will include the preponderance of legacy records without MARC 348 and local legacy records without MARC 655. This alternative presents its own problems, however, especially in the way the definitions have changed over time and the lack of a way to separate out parts, an important user task. See Appendix C - Format of Notated Music History for full details. Some of the most difficult problems are highlighted below.


      Parts are not coded in 008/20 when issued with a score. When issued alone, parts are lumped into Code z (Other), as described below. While MARC (008/21, 006/04) provides for coding information regarding the presence or absence of parts, OCLC and MLA’s MARC Formats Subcommittee have recommended simply accepting the “blank” (“no attempt to code”) default. As a result, this data is not often coded, at least in WorldCat.

      Code m (Multiple score formats), while necessary, does nothing to indicate the nature of the individual scores included within a manifestation consisting of multiple types of scores issued together.

      Code z (Other) is an amalgamation of formats, including materials consisting solely of parts and manifestations where “none of the other defined codes are appropriate.”

      Over time, codes and definitions have been added, changed, and dropped from use. For example:


o      Code z (Other), defined in AACR2 as “Music in other than score form,” also included works for solo instrument or popular music on two staves for piano with words printed between the staves. Works for solo instrument are now coded l (“el”) in RDA. RDA does not explicitly address how to code popular music on two staves for piano with words printed between the staves, and to date it appears coding has been inconsistent.[2]--both of which are now coded l (“el”) in RDA.

o      Codes h (Chorus score), i (Condensed score), and j (Performer-conductor part) were added after their approval in 2009; code p (Piano score) was added in 2016.

o      In 2012, code d was changed from “Voice score,” defined as including vocal parts with accompaniment arranged for piano, to “Voice score with accompaniment omitted”; the code for vocal scores with arranged accompaniments was then designated k (Vocal score).

Type of score is not easily mapped to DC or MODS. Type of score combines content and carrier, but DC elements distinguish between the two. LC’s crosswalk to MODS doesn’t seem to support MARC 254. Rethinking of data recording may be necessary; perhaps type of score could fit in physicalDescription or typeOfResource.

Recommendation: Based on the existing situation for format of notated music, best practice is to ensure that necessary fields for identification are indexed and displayed, and to explore ways to exploit legacy data as well as to improve future data capture.

Index and display (Bibliographic/Descriptive Metadata):

MARC: 250 Edition Statement (RDA)

MARC: 254 Musical Presentation Statement (pre-RDA)

MARC: 300 $a $e Physical Description--Extent,Accompanying material

MARC: 348 Format of Notated Music

MARC: 546 $b Language Note, Information code or alphabet

MARC: 650 $v Subject Added Entry--Topical Term, Form subdivision

MARC: 655 Index Term--Genre/Form

Dublin Core: type, format

EBUCore: no applicable properties

MODS: typeOfResource, physicalDescription

PBCore: n/a; information for display can be recorded in pbcoreAnnotation

BIBFRAME 2.0: Classes: bf:MusicFormat, bf:Layout; Properties: bf:musicFormat, bf:layout

Facets/Limits (Bibliographic/Descriptive Metadata):

(problematic; see discussion above)

MARC: 008/20, 006/03 Format of music

MARC: 008/21, 006/04 Music parts

MARC: 650 $v Form subdivision (Free-floating subdivisions for Written or Performed Music; Performed Version)

MARC: 655 Index Term--Genre/Form

DC, MODS, EBUCore: musical presentation is not easily mapped to these formats.

BIBFRAME: Classes: bf:MusicFormat, bf:Layout; Properties: bf:musicFormat, bf:layout

Related MARC Authority Fields:

MARC: 150 $v; 185 $v

[1] Subject Headings Manual (SHM) H 1160m, September 2014, accessed August 25, 2017, .

[2] Possible codes include l (“el”) (Score); i (Condensed score); and k (Vocal score) according to cataloger’s judgement and interpretation of the definitions.