Proposal: Revision proposal for choosing and recording preferred titles for music in RDA–

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20 Responses to Proposal: Revision proposal for choosing and recording preferred titles for music in RDA–

  1. Kathy Glennan says:

    Comment received from Mark Scharff, Washington University in St. Louis:

    The rationale for making this change is understandable—besides the desire to align the instructions for musical works with those for other works, there is, I’m guessing, a belief that this will make the cataloger’s life easier. In a code where “work” is so unambiguously a conceptual construct, determining a “composer’s original title in the language in which it was presented” could get down to the level of psychology (what language was Tchaikovsky thinking in when he composed Sleeping beauty) and then rise up again to the level of manifestations (the “presentation” aspect), and this can be difficult. But making the attempt is at least chasing after something that is likely to lead to one result, or at least a small number of possibilities that can be prioritized.

    In giving to manifestations and reference sources, the rewritten instructions introduce concerns that don’t seem addressed by the proposal. Most notable is the outsized role of German and French publishers in producing the earliest editions of works by Eastern European, Russian, and Scandinavian composers. The files for Tchaikovsky, Glinka, Grieg, etc. could look a lot different if this were to be conscientiously applied. I think that it is telling that none of the examples proposed appear to deal with such a situation. If one takes the “popularity-contest” approach that the revision seems to be espousing, making that determination fairly could actually be more work and turn out to be quite subjective. Simply pointing to a thematic catalog or dictionary is not enough; such tools have their own slants, and in the case of something like Grove Music Online, inconsistent editorial principles among worklists.

    Another concern is that in trying to move catalogers from to and beyond, the changes in wording and structure might make problems for catalogers recording preferred titles for parts of compositions. Currently, the instructions for doing so send you to *only*, which means that part titles do not go through language/singular-plural manipulation, and that is a Good Thing. I don’t know that this would be as clear with the revised numbering, and any notion that part titles should be manipulated for use in AAPs is a Bad Thing.

  2. Kathy Glennan says:

    Note that whatever changes occur as a result of 6JSC/LC/30 in 6.2.2, the same changes should occur here — if there’s general agreement that the wording should match in both places.

  3. Kathy Glennan says:

    The current language in is essentially unchanged from its AACR2 counterpoint (25.27A1). That rule had a corresponding LCRI which governed US practice:

    If the title of the first edition of a work is not known to be different in wording or language from the composer’s original title, use the first edition title as the basis for the uniform title unless a later title in the same language is better known.

    Presumably, the differences in AACR2 for music uniform titles (vs. other uniform titles) took into account the publication/publisher history that Mark notes above.

    As currently written, I would interpret to determine the preferred title from the manuscript score, or maybe the from title used in the first performance, over a first edition title, if these titles differed.

    As proposed, I would interpret to prefer print embodiments of the work, and titles recorded in reference sources, over the title on the manuscript score. (Mark has identified this as a “popularity contest” above.)

    I think there’s a problem in hitching too much of to the language in — many musical works have no language content beyond the title and tempo markings. What is the “original language” of Beethoven’s Moonlight sonata? Richard Robeson’s Barcelona Azul (for Jane)? And where do these revised instructions take us for Stravinsky’s Rite of spring? (French or Russian?)

    • Tracey L. Snyder says:

      On the topic of the popularity contest (which language to use for the preferred title if the language of the title in the composer’s manuscript differs from the language of the title used in the first edition):

      – I would support adding an example or two that illustrates this situation, even as we work to trim the examples overall in (thanks, Mark).

      – The proposal does not aim to change the practice of preferring the language of the title used by the composer in the manuscript, so the JMWG can certainly work with the JSC to make that clear in the wording of the instruction. Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring would remain in Russian. The aim is to choose a title in the language originally used by the composer by which the work “is commonly identified” (if that wording is going to be used in in resources embodying the work or in reference sources.

      Again, I am speaking as a member of MusLA, but I also happen to be on the JMWG, and I did consult with colleagues who are also members of both groups.

      • Tracey L. Snyder says:

        FYI, I think the JMWG will have a new suggestion for the wording of the if-or-then bit after the first sentence of It will be revised in light of adjustments to the wording of that first sentence.

  4. Kathy Glennan says:

    The proposed revisions point out a serious terminology problem in RDA. I personally wouldn’t consider a title selected under to be *the* preferred title until everything is applied through all of 6.14. It’s simply wrong to assert that “Sinfonia eroica” is the preferred title for Beethoven’s 3rd symphony. It *is* the version of the preferred title that’s selected as part of applying the instructions in — but you still don’t have the “final” preferred title until you’ve worked through the “recording” instructions at and the type of composition instructions at

    The proposal attempts to deal with this by using “preferred title before omissions” and “preferred title after omissions” in, which helps a bit. However, this language was not applied in the examples at — and some of them don’t need it (like La damnation de Faust).

    Is there some other language that we could use to identify the “initially-identified-but-not-necessarily-the-final preferred title” until it becomes finalized by the application of all the instructions in 6.14? Perhaps something like “initial form of preferred title”? AACR2 used “basis for the uniform title” to try to get around this problem….

    Working from a few of the new examples, we could have:

    Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg
    Initial form of preferred title for the work by Richard Wagner published under various titles: The mastersingers of Nuremberg; Les maitres-chanteurs de Nuremberg; and others

    String quartet in A minor
    Initial form of preferred title for the work by William Walton first published under the title: String quartet in A minor

    Three little pieces
    Initial form of preferred title for the work by Sydney Hodkinson first published under the title: Three little pieces

    • Dominique Bourassa says:

      I thought the title of was misleading. When I saw the example Sinfonia eroica , I was a bit confused because I know that the final result should have Symphonies in the title. After reading the whole proposal it became clear how the process of going from Sinfornia eroica to Symphonies happens but not right at first.

      From a generalist’s point of view, it seems that is only the first step in choosing the preferred title, that there is way more to it and that information is only divulged in the sections about recording the preferred title ( Describing some of the examples in as “Initial form of preferred title,” as Kathy suggested would help make it clearer that this is not the end of the road.

      • Tracey L. Snyder says:

        Maybe needs to point to, the way points to Maybe right before the examples, it could read, “For instructions on recording the preferred title for a musical work, see” And, this might be overkill, but maybe could start out like this: “Choose (but do not necessarily record) as the preferred title…” The explanatory notes for the examples could start out like this: “Preferred title chosen for the work…” As I said on other pages, I am speaking as a member of MusLA, although I am also a member of the JMWG, the group that prepared the proposal.

  5. Kathy Glennan says:

    While I appreciate the extensive effort the Music WG went to suggest new examples, I think the JSC will likely believe there are too many. There’s a general principle that examples should be presenting new situations, not supplying multiple examples of the same thing.

    I think this is less of a problem with the single-spaced list with italics in the current; with the proposed revisions, the new examples take up a lot of space.

    • Dominique Bourassa says:

      I also feel there are a lot of examples. Five orchestral pieces does not seem different from Three little pieces. Wouldn’t just one of these be sufficient to demonstrate what needs to be done? Too many examples can make finding what one is looking for more difficult. So, I think it would be good to review and limit the examples.

      I must point out that appreciate the addition of titles of a folk song, a national anthem, and popular music to the examples. This is the type of music that many generalists encounter. So it’s useful to have confirmation that we can go through the same intellectual process when cataloging these.

  6. Kathy Glennan says:

    in the proposed, the 5th example seems incomplete. Every other example has a stated reason why this particular preferred title was selected. Why not this one?

    • Tracey L. Snyder says:

      Well, I think this example is mainly there to set you up for the Optional Omission to abridge a long title when recording the preferred title ( Presumably, the long title that is chosen in is the title that is found in resources embodying the work. Maybe the explanatory note could say something like “Preferred title for the compilation by Robert Barber as found on an early publication of the work.”

  7. Kathy Glennan says:

    In the exception to, I think the first occurrence of the term “recorded” is not appropriate.

    I think this should be revised to:

    the preferred title is distinctive
    it includes the name of a type of composition
    all of the composer’s works of that type are also cited as a numbered sequence of compositions of that type
    record only the name of the type as the preferred title.

  8. Kathy Glennan says:

    In the 1st paragraph of, I’m wondering if the 2nd sentence should be a separate paragraph, moved to the end of the instruction (after the exception).

    I think that both & should be able to be applied to the exception. What if the “initial form of the preferred title” for Beethoven’s Eroica symphony was: Sinfonia eroica in Mi♭ maggiore? Would the presence of the key in the “initial form of the preferred title” make it non-distinctive, or not? I’d just hate to see us back into a corner where even with the exception, catalogers should be able to apply

    • Tracey L. Snyder says:

      I’m thinking that you would never need to apply (Omissions) to a work that fits the Exception right above it. In the Exception, if you have a distinctive title that includes the name of a type of composition (and yes, I think the word “eroica” makes it a distinctive title, even if you have other junk after it, like a key) and the other condition is also met, then you just do what it tells you–record the type as the preferred title. Since the Exception tells you to record only the type as the preferred title, there’s nothing left to omit. So, I think “Apply the additional instructions at–, as applicable” makes sense where it is, before the Examples, Optional Omission, and Exception. That’s my personal take on it, anyway.

  9. Kathy Glennan says:

    I’m interested in hearing from non-music-specialists about the helpfulness of the example explanations in the proposed

    I would like to see different words used to describe the situation, based on the suggestions I’ve made above. This would be something like:

    Initial form of preferred title: String quartet in A minor. Preferred title after omissions: Quartet. [or possibly, “Preferred title per Quartet.”] The composer wrote more than one quartet

    Initial form of preferred title: Sinfonia eroica. Preferred title per, Exception: Sinfonia. English language form recorded by…

    • Dominique Bourassa says:

      After reading the whole proposals, the examples in are clear. But I think your suggestions would make them even clearer for generalists.

      • Tracey L. Snyder says:

        How about “Preferred title per” for the initial form that is chosen and “Preferred title per” for the post-omissions (but pre-language-&-plural/singular grinder) form?

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