Canonical classical music titles
April 1, 2012 10:38 AM Subscribe
Whats the proper way to 'normalize' the titles of classical musical works when there doesn't seem to be any consistently used name?
posted by Hither to media & arts (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I know metafilter attracts a lot of library and information sciences people, so hopefully this beanplating will be up their alley.
I'm interested in the 'proper' way to organize song titles in a collection of recordings in some canonical, normalized, or at least consistent way, to make it easier to pull up different recordings of the same piece side-by-side. Particularly Western classical/art music. I'm hoping for some relatively objective approach, but I'm afraid I'll have to toss that out the window.
Take for example Bach's first cello suite. There seem to be several possibilities.
1. Use the name Bach labeled the piece with. There's no manuscript in Bach's hand, so we can't know for sure.
2. Try to approximate what Bach what would have used, for example "Suite für Violoncello solo Nr. 1".
3. Try to translate that into my native language, for example ''Suite for Solo 'Cello No. 1".
4. Stick to the names used by the recordings. But each recording seems to use something slightly different. And I'd like to make it easy to find different recordings of the same piece.
Even if we can do #1, it doesn't always produce useful results. Like all the Bach keyboard pieces labeled 'Praeluden'. So you can shove the key into the title to make them less ambiguous, but even thats not enough, because some of them are in the same key. Also, it creates issues if you have recordings that were transposed. What do you label 'Minuet in G' if transposed into D? 'Minuet in G in D?' You could call it 'Minuet in D', but then it looks like a different piece, and what if there's already another 'Minuet in D'?
So then you can add the catalog number to clarify, but that seems odd to me, because you're adding things to the title the composer wouldn't have recognized, since the whole BWV numbering system was invented long after Bach's death.