Music Discovery Requirements

III.F Expressions and Manifestations: Language

Three factors contribute to a heightened need to find, identify, and select music materials based on language attributes: the variety of languages used in the study and performance of music, the fact that a single manifestation often incorporates many languages, and the challenges of purely instrumental music.

First, while general users frequently focus on one or perhaps a handful of languages (i.e. languages they read/speak), seekers of musical works regularly desire a variety of languages. This is particularly true for vocal music, where users seek both original languages and specific translations.

Second, individual music materials regularly incorporate a number of languages in various distinct capacities, including program notes, critical commentaries, libretti, dubbing and subtitles. Consider which of these capacities are most valuable, particularly for facets and limits. Including all capacities will be the most comprehensive route, but can also be confusing, particularly if the function of each language is not clearly identified. In all cases, the function of the language should be clearly identified, if this information is present in the data (as it is in MARC 041).

Finally, purely instrumental music has no language information associated with the work's primary content, yet manifestations feature an array of languages in the secondary content, making indexing and display of language problematic for instrumental music. It is unclear what users think of when considering the “language” of instrumental music. They might associate it with the composer’s language, the language used in the accompanying material, or the language used by the publisher of a particular manifestation. Or, knowing instrumental music does not have a “language” they may just ignore a language facet/limit. In the MARC Code List for Languages,[1] the code zxx is used to indicate “no linguistic content.”[2] Code zxx could be used as a limit/facet; if so, possible display text is “no language content.” Or, it could be ignored; but it should not be replaced with language of the secondary material Finally, zxx should not be confused or combined with code und (“undetermined”) which is used both when the language cannot be identified and when sung or spoken text is “vocalises, humming and other texts that are wordless or consist of nonsense syllables.”

Recommendation: Index and display language codes and terms, converted to vernacular when necessary. Display and allow possibility for additional limits/facets for secondary languages and indicate function of the language (e.g., subtitles, librettos/lyrics, performance instructions, original language). At local level, determine desired use and label of MARC language code zxx (no language content).

Index and Display (Bibliographic/Descriptive Metadata):

MARC: 041, 008/35-37 Language Code (may be better suited to facets) (If used, ideally make clear the function of the language within the item, if this info is coded in the data.[3] Consider carefully subfields of 041 to include. All subfields contain language codes except: $2 (Source of code), $6 (Linkage), and $8 (Field link and sequence number).)

MARC: 130 $l; 240 $l; 7XX $l Language information in standardized titles (subfield is titled “Language of a work”)

MARC: 377 Associated Language (assess data for presence before implementing)

MARC: 546 $a Language Note (older data may contain language notes in 500, where it was recorded before 546 was defined)

Dublin Core: language

EBUCore: hasLanguage; hasOriginalLanguage

MODS: languageTerm

PBCore: pbcoreInstantiation (instantiationLanguage)

BIBFRAME 2.0: Classes: bf:Language; Properties: bf:language

Facets/Limits (Bibliographic/Descriptive Metadata):

Allow facets/limits by all languages, not just those in MARC 008/35-37. Ideally, allow the possibility to facet/limit by the function of the language.

Dublin Core: language

EBUCore: hasLanguage; hasOriginalLanguage

MODS: languageTerm

PBCore: pbcoreInstantiation (instantiationLanguage)

BIBFRAME: Classes: bf:Language; Properties: bf:language

Related MARC Authority Fields:

MARC: 100 $l; 130 $l; 377

[1] MARC Code List For Languages, accessed August 25, 2017,

[2] Both N/A and three blanks have previously been used to designate “No linguistic content.” Although OCLC converted all instances to zxx in 2006, N/A and three blanks may still exist in other data sources. There was also no reliable way to convert incorrect codes for instrumental music coded for language of imprint.

[3] The facets in the video view of University of Virginia’s Blacklight implementation provide an example of clearly labelled facets for different language functions. Accessed August 25, 2017,