Brian Schweitzer | 1 Sep 03:04 2009
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Pre-RFC: Special Purpose Artist, Unknown Artist Style, and other SPAs (was Re: SpecialPurposeArtists)

First, the SPA page.  http://wiki.musicbrainz.org/Special_Purpose_Artist does have "Please note that you shouldn't create any new SpecialPurposeArtist all by yourself without prior discussion about it, usually on the style MailingList.", but we have no guidelines there as to how any new ones should be named.  A while back (1 or 2 years ago), several of us put most of the SPAs to the vote, to change them from "foo" (and the rest of the variations) to a standardized and distinguishable "[foo]").  I would suggest adding somewhere on this page a line saying something like "Special Purpose Artists should always be named in lower case with square brackets surrounding the name."

Next, Data Track and Data Track Style.  Do these need to be two different pages, rather than combining them into a single consise page?  Also, the line at the top of http://wiki.musicbrainz.org/Data_Track_Style - "If a DataTrack appears on a VariousArtists album, also enter "[data track]" as the artist."  This would seem to be a hold-over from when releases were only either VA or SA, rather than allowing SA releases with some tracks by different artists.  Is there any reason, on a single artist release, to not also have data tracks assigned to [data track] as the track artist, rather than just saving this for VA releases?

http://wiki.musicbrainz.org/Unknown_Artist is not too friendly, as Sami points out, and figuring out when it should actually be used isn't any better - "For details about when to use (and not use) [unknown], refer to UnknownArtistStyle." sounds fine, until you realize that http://wiki.musicbrainz.org/Unknown_Artist_Style is an entirely empty page (any contents were solely discussion, so the article itself is empty).

VA's not too great; http://wiki.musicbrainz.org/Various_Artists points to Release Artist Style ( http://wiki.musicbrainz.org/Release_Artist_Style ) for guidance as to when to use it...  great, but RAS has been a WIP for forever, and is not, in its current form, actually very useful.  For VA releases, it then also points you to look somewhere else - http://wiki.musicbrainz.org/Various_Artists_Release - which is a two sentence page, "A Release which consists of Tracks from various artists, none of which can be considered the PrimaryArtist of the release. Such a release is stored in the database with an ReleaseArtist of VariousArtists."  That's rather a long way to go to get from the VA page's "Releases where the TrackArtists are unrelated to each other (usually compilations), are attached to the artist "Various Artists"."  Could not Various_Artists_Release be merged into Various_Artists, with the (better) text from Various_Artists_Release replacing the (rather ambiguous) 1 line sentence at the top of the VA page?

http://wiki.musicbrainz.org/No_Artist is comparatively pretty good.  Defining it as a "credited performer of any discographic relevance" is not all that helpful though; [no artist] should remain for only those tracks or releases which truely have no artist - questions of whether someone is credited or not, or whether the performer(s) are of "discographic relevance" should have no place here...  (The performers on 90+% of wax cylinders from the 1880's through the mid 1890's had no performers listed; that shouldn't mean that those performers, when known, should not then still be used as the release & track artists for those...)  The example given here also is problematic - they directly conflict with the existance of the "[nature sounds]" SPA, using "(example: nature sounds releases)" as the sole use case for [no artist]...

Then there's http://wiki.musicbrainz.org/Special_Purpose_Artist ...  As Sami points out, some of the SPAs really should be merged/split away into other SPAs.  But as many times over the past years as I've read it, I still don't follow what "Others are used more informally: " is supposed to actually mean. 

The SPAs that the SPA page lists as "informal SPAs" are:
[anonymous]
[dialogue]
[gregorian chant]
[news report]
[spiritual]
[traditional]
Ethnic Music Compilations

The ones it lists above that ("formal SPAs"?) are

Various Artists
[data track]
[unknown]
[no artist]

I'd suggest that there is no need for this distinction.

It then lists "Incorrect collection" and "Collection" artists.  It's too bad we cannot somehow group all of these together, but minimally, I'd suggest that there is no need also for this distinction here - whether it's "Bollywood" or "Scary Sounds", they're both serving the same 'placeholder until we have better data' purpose, so there's no "incorrect" or "correct" here.

Apart from the (presumably "valid"?) collection artists, that leaves:

Bollywood
Disney
Data CD
Musical
MusicBrainz Test Artist
MusicBrainz Test Artist (Yet another test artist)
Soundtrack
Classical

plus there's the SPAs not listed (plus likely some that don't even use the [], so I can't find them...):

[Bysantine chant]
[Christmas music]
[Church Chimes]
[common chant]
[east african music]
[gregorian chant] & Antonio de Cabezón
[gregorian chant] & Francisco Guerrero
[gregorian chant] & Francisco Guerrero & Bricio Gaudi
[gregorian chant] & Philippe Rogier
[islamic chant]
[kiev chant]
[kiev-pechersk chant]
[language courses]
[musical]
[nature sounds]
[Sarum chant]
[television theme songs]
[znamenny chant]
Cenaclul Flacăra
Ella Fitzgerald & Chick Webb
Kimagure Orange Road
Orchestra

If I were reorganizing the artists and the SPA page lists, I'd suggest this:

"Valid" SPAs:

    * [anonymous] - The artist is unknown and unknowable.
    * [data track] - Rename it to [data], and merge in "Data CD".
    * [dialogue] - For soundtracks, some other valid uses as well.
    * [no artist] - There is no artist.
    * [unknown] - The artist is unknown, but possibly knowable. 
                        Merge in [traditional], Ethnic Music Compilations, Orchestra, and [east african music] for futher
                        cleanup (tracks can then individually be moved to [anonymous] oon a case by case basis).
    * Various Artists - Do we have documentation anywhere on when VA is valid anywhere outside of the release artist level?

Test Artists:
    * MusicBrainz Test Artist
    * MusicBrainz Test Artist (Yet another test artist)

Placeholder Artists (all subsets of [unknown]):
    * [religeous music] - merge in [Bysantine chant], [common chant], [gregorian chant], [islamic
                                                chant], [kiev chant], [kiev-pechersk chant], [Sarum chant], [spiritual]
                                                and [znamenny chant]
    * [classical music] - renamed from Classical
    * [musical theater] - merge in Musical and [musical]
    * [soundtrack] - merge in "Soundtrack", "Bollywood", and Kimagure Orange Road.
    * Ella Fitzgerald & Chick Webb - A "catchbin" artist, to snag newly added tracks and releases that would
                                                    otherwise end up dumped in (likely) the wrong places.
    * Plus all of the (valid) "collection artists" currently listed on the SPA page.

That leaves these, which arguably could be kept as special "subset" SPAs:
    * [Disney] - renamed from "Disney", subset placeholder SPA of the [soundtrack] SPA
                     (kept simply due to the number of unknown Disney-specific tracks)
    * [nature sounds] - subset of [no artist]
    * [language instruction] - Renamed from [language courses], subset of [no artist]
    * [news report] - subset of [no artist].
    * [television theme songs] - subset placeholder SPA of the [soundtrack] SPA.  Kept separate
                                             both because of the number of these tracks, and the higher chances
                                             of them being identified if kept grouped, rather than all just dumped into [soundtrack].

And these would simply go away with NGS:
    * [gregorian chant] & Antonio de Cabezón
    * [gregorian chant] & Francisco Guerrero
    * [gregorian chant] & Francisco Guerrero & Bricio Gaudi
    * [gregorian chant] & Philippe Rogier

That leaves Cenaclul Flacăra, [Christmas music] and [Church Chimes].  [Christmas music] could arguably be kept separate, merged into [religeous music], or simply merged into [unknown].  [Church Chimes] is one I actually created; it's a subset of [no artist], but there's possibly rationale for keeping it separate - these 1897-1902 releases are recordings of church chimes, released with either "Church Chimes" (most of them) or "Chimes" as the artist on the label.  And I'm not really sure just what we ought to do with Cenaclul Flacăra...

Brian

On Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 1:41 PM, Sami Sundell <ssundell-X3B1VOXEql0@public.gmane.org> wrote:

On 26.8.2009, at 14.24, Brian Schweitzer wrote:

> > There are some other funny things, such as
> > [spiritual] <http://musicbrainz.org/artist/69944132-a149-427b-9ce3-745894ed23c4.html
> > Why is this a separate artist?

> I'd suggest the annotation for that artist explains it: "Another
> bogus artist similar to anon., trad., and gregorian chant but for
> African-American spiritual songs. As they don't fit any of the
> previous categories, a separate one was made."

That explains it in that context, but not the reason behind it. There
is a fitting category - anonymous/unknown. Why do we want or need to
separate the spiritual music from others? For that matter, why do we
need to separate gregorian chants? That sounds awfully lot like
genres, except for some reason these are accepted, and we're using, of
all things, artist field to define the genre.

> I would generally take it as [unknown] being "I don't know", whereas
> [anonymous] would be "noone knows".  In

So would I, but our guidelines don't agree - http://wiki.musicbrainz.org/Unknown_Artist

Maybe [anonymous] should then be promoted into list of "official"
special purpose artists, and the distinction mentioned in wiki.

> I'm not a fan of the "Ethnic Music Compilations" SPA.  It seems to
> exist to avoid having a large number of "[German traditional]",
> "[French traditional]", etc. types of artists, for traditional folk
> songs.
>   Given that the specific ethnicity is lost, I'd suggest this is a
> superfluous SPA to some of the others, esp [anonymous], and in many
> cases - such as the military marches example you gave, there's
> likely composers known for at least some, if not all, such that the
> release could be eventually moved into a non-SPA for artist(s).

That sounds a plausible explanation, but because it's not documented
anywhere, at least I wouldn't use that artist for anything.
Particularly since the name is so ugly 8)

And yes. If we want to store the national variants, then there should
be separate artists for that. If not, then they should go under
[anonymous], [unknown], [traditional] or whichever we decide is the
most useful. Right now, that artist doesn't seem to help anyone, and
for some reason it doesn't even match the generic square-bracketed
notation of that sort of artists.

--
 Sami Sundell
 ssundell-X3B1VOXEql0@public.gmane.org





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Bogdan Butnaru | 14 Sep 20:01 2009
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Re: Pre-RFC: Special Purpose Artist, Unknown Artist Style, and other SPAs (was Re: SpecialPurposeArtists)

About “Cenaclul Flacăra”, the Romanian Wikipedia says (loose
translation, abbreviated):

*** Cultural phenomenon from the '70s and beginning of the '80. Led by
the poet Adrian Păunescu. At first, shows took place in the Ion
Creangă theater in Bucharest, but later there were tours throughout
the country. The firsts who participated were: MV, DS, [...]. Starting
with the autumn of 1980, there came to C.F. the band Continental
([...]) who accompanied the entire show; a disc was recorded together
with the band (unfortunately, the latter's only one). After the
leaving of Nicolae Enache, the band took a new direction. It became
the band FlaPo ([...]) and it accompanied the majority of the singers
and group songs. FlaPo was present on the scene from the start to the
end of the show, accompanying singers of various genres. [...] The
shows were forbidden in 1985, [due to a disturbance at a concert that
led to some deaths]. ***

Well, “cultural phenomenon” is not in our official terminology, so
that's not a lot of help. Also, I'm not exactly sure if they don't
exist at all anymore. There have been lots of recent releases, and
though that's not a good indication, I think I remember seeing
“recorded at” notes on some discs pointing to dates later than 1985.
(I don't have the discs where I live now, so I can't check.)

Anyway, I'd classify them as an “over-group”. Even if some of the
participating artists are groups themselves, and the exact performers
varied from track-to-track, the fact that they, together, maintained
the name (and released several discs, some of which never mention the
individual “sub-artists”) over a long period of time (not just a tour
or a festival) should qualify them for some kind of existence.

Most if not all releases there have been added or cleaned-up by me
with the disc in hand. I've added the individual artists to tracks
whenever they were given, but some releases are simply credited to
“Cenaclul Flacăra”.

“Cenaclu” is the Romanian translation of the French “cénacle”, which
means approximately “a private circle of chosen persons”, though in
Romanian it has the sense of “a group of artists linked by common
sensibilities”. “Flacăra” means just “the flame”, and is used as a
proper noun here (i.e., The “Flame” Circle).

I added the artist and the (not-quite-informative) annotation, BTW. If
everyone thinks it should be kept (my vote is here), we might think of
better names. If everyone thinks we should just replace it with VA,
then what do we do with what's credited to the group itself? (There
just one release like that that I know of.)

-- Bogdan Butnaru

On Tue, Sep 1, 2009 at 3:04 AM, Brian Schweitzer
<brian.brianschweitzer <at> gmail.com> wrote:
> That leaves Cenaclul Flacăra, [Christmas music] and [Church Chimes].
> [Christmas music] could arguably be kept separate, merged into [religeous
> music], or simply merged into [unknown].  [Church Chimes] is one I actually
> created; it's a subset of [no artist], but there's possibly rationale for
> keeping it separate - these 1897-1902 releases are recordings of church
> chimes, released with either "Church Chimes" (most of them) or "Chimes" as
> the artist on the label.  And I'm not really sure just what we ought to do
> with Cenaclul Flacăra...

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David Gasaway | 15 Sep 09:22 2009

Bass instruments

Could I we please consider some clarification for the instrument named 
"Bass"?  In the instrument hierarchy, it appears as a child of "Viola 
da Gamba", and a parent of both "Double bass (Contrabass, Acoustic 
upright bass)" and "Acoustic upright bass".  This suggests that it is 
at least an instrument of the viol family.  What I'm not clear on is 
whether it's meant to represent a bass viol (a viol instrument smaller 
than a double bass, which I've seen on at least one release I own), or 
to represent a class of low-pitched viol instruments.  If it's for the 
bass viol specifically, shouldn't "Double bass" be a child to "Viola da 
Gamba"?

I've seen "Bass" used on classical and jazz releases where double bass 
is the more appropriate instrument.  Worse, I've seen it used on jazz 
and popular releases where "Bass guitar" should have been used.  Maybe 
I'm reading the instrument hierarchy too literally...

I realize that it might be hard to change the meaning of "Bass" now 
without wreaking havoc on existing ARs, but could I at least get a 
clarification for my own use?  Or perhaps "Bass" could be moved to a 
more general spot in the heirarchy, discouraged via additional 
descriptive text, and a new "Bass viol" inserted in the existing spot. 
  If nothing else, some documentation for InstrumentRelationAttribute 
could be useful.

I'd also like to know what distinction is intended by having both 
"Double bass (Contrabass, Acoustic upright bass)" and "Acoustic upright 
bass".  I've consistently used the former in all cases, AFAIK.

Thanks.
Lukáš Lalinský | 15 Sep 09:33 2009
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Re: Bass instruments

On Tue, Sep 15, 2009 at 9:22 AM, David Gasaway <dave@...> wrote:
> I'd also like to know what distinction is intended by having both
> "Double bass (Contrabass, Acoustic upright bass)" and "Acoustic upright
> bass".  I've consistently used the former in all cases, AFAIK.

There is http://bugs.musicbrainz.org/ticket/3732 and it should be
fixed now. Thanks for the ping. :)

--

-- 
Lukas Lalinsky
lalinsky@...
Leiv Hellebo | 15 Sep 11:32 2009
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Re: Bass instruments

David Gasaway wrote:
> Could I we please consider some clarification for the instrument named 
> "Bass"?  In the instrument hierarchy, it appears as a child of "Viola 
> da Gamba", and a parent of both "Double bass (Contrabass, Acoustic 
> upright bass)" and "Acoustic upright bass".  This suggests that it is 
> at least an instrument of the viol family.  What I'm not clear on is 
> whether it's meant to represent a bass viol (a viol instrument smaller 
> than a double bass, which I've seen on at least one release I own), or 
> to represent a class of low-pitched viol instruments.  If it's for the 
> bass viol specifically, shouldn't "Double bass" be a child to "Viola da 
> Gamba"?

I've come across this too, see somewhere down in this thread:
http://www.nabble.com/Re-arranging-the-bass-subtree--td17205642s2885.html

The current placement of Double Bass has some counter-intuitive 
consequences, if one assumes that "violins" and "viols" are meant to be 
usable instruments and not abstract meta-instruments only used for grouping.

1) ARs with "viols performed by" are not likely to have double bass
2) ARs with "violins performed by" may have double bass.

I think it would be better to have double bass under violins, and I 
agree that bass viol could be added in stead of bass.

As I don't have the full overview of use and intended use of the 
instrument hierarchy, I am uncertain of other consequences and whether 
such a change requires much work.

Leiv
David Gasaway | 16 Sep 06:44 2009

Re: Bass instruments

Leiv Hellebo wrote:
> The current placement of Double Bass has some counter-intuitive 
> consequences, if one assumes that "violins" and "viols" are meant to be 
> usable instruments and not abstract meta-instruments only used for grouping.

I see what you mean.  A move to violins would be prudent, IMO.  Of 
course, "Electric upright bass" should move with it.  Plus, "Viola da 
Gamba" could be renamed to "Viola da Gambas".

> I think it would be better to have double bass under violins, and I 
> agree that bass viol could be added in stead of bass.

Ok, so a new instrument named "Bass viol" under "Viola da Gamba". 
"Bass" could be moved to "String instruments", but I wouldn't know what 
to name it.
Brant Gibbard | 16 Sep 13:44 2009
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Re: Bass instruments

I would suggest not re-naming "Bass" at all, as it seems to sometimes be
used in credits as a catch-all term for a number of quite different
unidentified instruments that play the bass line.

The problem I found when I was entering some of my few popular music CDs was
that the credits frequently just say "Bass" and nothing more. When I asked
on the forums what the likely meaning of "Bass" would be on a popular CD
someone replied that it could mean either a bass guitar or a double bass
(electric or acoustic), or possibly a combination of any of these on the
same CD. He indicated that at concerts it is not uncommon to see the same
player switching back and forth between those instruments from one song to
the next.

I would definitely support adding "Bass Viol" as a separate specific
instrument in addition to the non-specific "Bass", but if David is
suggesting, as he seems to be, removing "Bass" as a credited item then I
would be strongly against it. I would still want to have the non-specific
category present as otherwise I could not add the credits at all. I simply
don't KNOW if they are playing bass guitar or double bass, or some other
instruments, or as I suspect playing several different instruments on
different songs. All we are told is that they are credited as "Bass" and I
do not want to make false assumptions as to which instruments are being
played.

Moving "Bass" to a level right under "String Instruments" would make a lot
of sense though.

Brant Gibbard
Toronto, ON
http://bgibbard.ca 

> -----Original Message-----
> From: musicbrainz-style-bounces@... 
> [mailto:musicbrainz-style-bounces@...] On 
> Behalf Of David Gasaway
> Sent: September-16-09 12:44 AM
> To: MusicBrainz style discussion
> Subject: Re: [mb-style] Bass instruments
> 
> Leiv Hellebo wrote:
> > The current placement of Double Bass has some counter-intuitive 
> > consequences, if one assumes that "violins" and "viols" are 
> meant to 
> > be usable instruments and not abstract meta-instruments 
> only used for grouping.
> 
> I see what you mean.  A move to violins would be prudent, 
> IMO.  Of course, "Electric upright bass" should move with it. 
>  Plus, "Viola da Gamba" could be renamed to "Viola da Gambas".
> 
> > I think it would be better to have double bass under violins, and I 
> > agree that bass viol could be added in stead of bass.
> 
> Ok, so a new instrument named "Bass viol" under "Viola da Gamba". 
> "Bass" could be moved to "String instruments", but I wouldn't 
> know what to name it.
> 
> 
> 
> _______________________________________________
> Musicbrainz-style mailing list
> Musicbrainz-style@...
> http://lists.musicbrainz.org/mailman/listinfo/musicbrainz-style
Leiv Hellebo | 16 Sep 21:17 2009
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Re: Bass instruments

Brant Gibbard wrote:
> I would suggest not re-naming "Bass" at all, as it seems to sometimes be
> used in credits as a catch-all term for a number of quite different
> unidentified instruments that play the bass line.
> 
> The problem I found when I was entering some of my few popular music CDs was
> that the credits frequently just say "Bass" and nothing more. When I asked
> on the forums what the likely meaning of "Bass" would be on a popular CD
> someone replied that it could mean either a bass guitar or a double bass
> (electric or acoustic), or possibly a combination of any of these on the
> same CD. He indicated that at concerts it is not uncommon to see the same
> player switching back and forth between those instruments from one song to
> the next.
> 
> I would definitely support adding "Bass Viol" as a separate specific
> instrument in addition to the non-specific "Bass", but if David is
> suggesting, as he seems to be, removing "Bass" as a credited item then I
> would be strongly against it. I would still want to have the non-specific
> category present as otherwise I could not add the credits at all. I simply
> don't KNOW if they are playing bass guitar or double bass, or some other
> instruments, or as I suspect playing several different instruments on
> different songs. All we are told is that they are credited as "Bass" and I
> do not want to make false assumptions as to which instruments are being
> played.
> 
> Moving "Bass" to a level right under "String Instruments" would make a lot
> of sense though.

Hm. Everything you say here makes sense. Some entity "Bass" right under 
"String instruments" that is subsuming both bass guitar and upright bass 
is certainly useful.

And I don't positively recall ever seeing a cover where someone/some 
group is credited for playing "Violins". Perhaps it would be better to 
add "string orchestra" and "wind orchestra" to the list of types of 
orchestra? That way one can specify that a symphony orchestra is playing 
as a string orchestra when it does Stravinsky's Apollo, and as a wind 
orchestra when it does Miaskovsky's 19th symphony?

What do you say, David?

Leiv
David K. Gasaway | 16 Sep 22:22 2009

Re: Bass instruments

Brant Gibbard wrote:
> I would suggest not re-naming "Bass" at all, as it seems to sometimes be
> used in credits as a catch-all term for a number of quite different
> unidentified instruments that play the bass line.

Exactly, and I'm not suggesting we change that.  Unfortunately, "Bass" doesn't describe that purpose very
well, and we'd still have people choosing "Bass" even when they know which specific instrument it is, just
because they don't know any better.  That's what I wanted to fix by renaming it.  "Bass (unknown bass
instrument, select Double Bass or Bass Guitar instead if known)" probably just isn't going to mustard.

> I would definitely support adding "Bass Viol" as a separate specific
> instrument in addition to the non-specific "Bass", but if David is
> suggesting, as he seems to be, removing "Bass" as a credited item then I
> would be strongly against it.

I don't think I suggested that, since I would be against it myself. :)

--

-- 
-:-:- David K. Gasaway
-:-:- Email: dave@...
-:-:- Web  : dave.gasaway.org
David K. Gasaway | 16 Sep 22:27 2009

Re: Bass instruments

Leiv Hellebo wrote:
> And I don't positively recall ever seeing a cover where someone/some 
> group is credited for playing "Violins". Perhaps it would be better to 
> add "string orchestra" and "wind orchestra" to the list of types of 
> orchestra? That way one can specify that a symphony orchestra is playing 
> as a string orchestra when it does Stravinsky's Apollo, and as a wind 
> orchestra when it does Miaskovsky's 19th symphony?
> 
> What do you say, David?

I like it.  +1!

--

-- 
-:-:- David K. Gasaway
-:-:- Email: dave@...
-:-:- Web  : dave.gasaway.org

Gmane