Changes to the Library of Congress Medium of Performance Thesaurus (LCMPT) for voice and chorus terms

The Vocabularies Subcommittee of MLA’s Cataloging and Metadata Committee would like to announce the approval of recent changes to the Library of Congress Medium of Performance Thesaurus (LCMPT) for voice and chorus terms. In discussions at the March 2020 MLA Conference, there was a broad consensus among members of the Cataloging and Metadata Committee that we should separate the issue of vocal range from that of gender of the singers, since the accuracy of these terms for contemporary and historical use is questionable. Although there are times when a gendered term may be more appropriate (scores calling for a “boy soprano”, for instance), there was agreement that we should have options for disassociating these concepts in the vocal and choral terms. A tenor, for instance, may be male, female, or non-binary, and the statement of range should not require limitation by gender.

The Vocabulary Maintenance Task Group moved forward with this project last spring, working with existing vocal/choral terms evidencing either implied or overtly stated gender that may be inappropriate or misleading, as well as proposing new medium of performance terms for ensembles or individual performers not currently represented in the thesaurus. In addition to scope note changes, these modifications required a restructuring of the hierarchy of terms. The Task Group intentionally placed two restrictions on their work: 1) The group did not address similar issues in the LCSH vocabulary, given the limited life span for LCSH medium terms, and 2) Guidance on when to employ the new and revised terms was left to the Vocabularies Subcommittee’s Best Practices for LCMPT Task Group. This will be provided in the next revision of MLA’s Best Practices for Using LCMPT.

The following are new terms, valid as of April 19, 2021:

  • transgender chorus
  • transgender voice
  • treble chorus
  • tenor bass chorus

The following are terms that were revised, either in scope or hierarchy, or both:

  • mixed chorus
  • men’s chorus
  • women’s chorus
  • children’s chorus
  • girls’ chorus
  • boys’ chorus
  • chorus changing voices
  • changing voice
  • soprano voice
  • mezzo-soprano voice
  • alto voice
  • tenor voice
  • baritone voice
  • bass-baritone voice
  • bass voice
  • basso profundo

With many thanks to Anne Adams, Vocabulary Maintenance Task Group coordinator; Beth Iseminger, SACO Music Funnel Coordinator; task group members; and everyone who submitted comments.