Vocabularies Subcommittee: MLA Report 2020

Music Library Association Cataloging and Metadata Committee: Vocabularies Subcommittee (VS) Business Meeting



Friday, February 28, 2020, 1:30pm – 2:55pm, Salon H, Hilton Norfolk The Main, Norfolk, VA


Present: Rebecca Belford (chair), Anne Adams, Joshua Henry, Beth Iseminger (for Nancy Lorimer, SACO Music Funnel Coordinator), Damian Iseminger (for Maarja Vigorito, Library of Congress representative), Marty Jenkins, Jeff Lyon, Leonard Martin, Allison McClanahan, Jennifer Olson, Treshani Perera, Mark Scharff (NACO Music Project Coordinator), Kyle Shockey, Jay Weitz (OCLC representative)


Music Toolkit test case report

(Jeff Lyon) Jeff gave a short summary of Brigham Young University’s experience analyzing their bibliographic records for music formats in preparation to running the OCLC Music Toolkit on the full file. Highlights of their subject heading analysis: 35,000 unique subject headings, which represented 85% of the headings in the catalog, with a long tail for the remaining headings. They also found 6,582 unique 382 fields, and are particularly hopefully about improved medium search. Plans are an improved search for medium, taking a closer look at their existing LCSH headings and doing data cleanup. All of this is in preparation for a local removal of form/genre/medium LCSH headings. Jeff and BYU colleague Greg Reeve will share their slides from their February 24 MOUG presentation on the topic. Their data and scripts are at available on GitHub (tinyurl.com/byugenre).

Chair’s report

(Rebecca Belford) Written reports from ALA Annual 2019 and ALA Midwinter 2020 are available, linked from the agenda and on the CMC website. Highlights from midwinter include the announcement from ALCTS that they will not be holding business or program meetings at Midwinter 2021. That means that SAC, to which the VS chair is MLA’s representative, will not be meeting in person Midwinter 2021. They will be experimenting will meeting virtually and will hold a trial virtual meeting before Annual. SAC decided at Midwinter 2020 to significantly increasing activity throughout the year, and confirmed there will be a program session at Annual. Current project between now and Annual is for SAC members to regularly review and comment on the LCC and Subject Tentative Lists.

Rebecca welcomed new members in 2019-2020, Anne Adams, Leo Martin, Allison McClanahan, and Jennifer Olson, and thanked members departing since MLA 2019, Morris Levy and Jenée Force, Morris Levy, and Jeff Lyon.

LC liaison’s report

(Damian Iseminger for Maarja Viggorito, LC rep to VS) In the past year, LC catalogers made 57 LCMPT, music-related LCSH, and music-related LCGFT proposals; 47 were accepted. SACO cooperative made 69 proposals, 61 accepted. Total: 126 music proposals, 108 accepted.


Standing VS task group on Types of Compositions for use in RDA access points (“Types”)

(Joshua Henry, task group coordinator)

From written report:

  • Members 2019-2020: Joshua Henry (coordinator), Jenée Force, Leo Martin
  • The following new or modified terms were vetted (alphabetical order):
    • Beweging/Bewegingen
    • Chorinho/Chorinhos
    • Choro/Choros
    • Concerto movement
    • Concertsatz
    • Fandanguillo/Fandanguillos
    • Improviso (Portuguese)
    • Konzertsatz
    • Madrigal/Madrigals
    • Melisma
    • Melisme
    • Phantasia/Phantasias
    • Quatour concertante
    • Quodlibet/Quodlibets
    • Quotlibet
    • Song/Songs
    • Tondichtung/Tondichtugen
    • Virelai/Virelais
  • The following terms are under consideration:
    • Pesen/Pesni
    • Balada/Baladi
  • The Types List functions slightly differently on the new website (https://cmc.wp.musiclibraryassoc.org/types-of-composition-for-use-in-authorized-access-points-for-music-a-manual-for-use-with-rda/). The Preface, Principles of the List, and Diacritics sections are on a separate page with a search bar. When you search a term, the relevant terms will appear below the search box. Above the search box is a link to a page with the entire list.  Currently, there is not a way to link the diacritics with ligatures to the Diacritics section, e.g., you can’t click on “ia” in a Russian word and be taken to the Diacritics section. The Webmasters are working on a solution to this problem.

Types new business/discussion: Plurals

  • Josh received a request to “make the Types List as much of a central source of information as possible, cutting down the work of the cataloger. This will be especially helpful for languages that have not typically been a focus in music librarianship, e.g., German, French, and Italian. One good example is the Russian word p’esa (singular) and its plural, p’esy.” It was noted that it would save the time and work for catalogers, and Josh (as CMC Web manager) noted that it would not be a difficult from the website perspective to popular terms resulting from a VS project.
  • There was consensus that including plurals would be useful; Casey Mullin noted that including plural terms would also make it easier to convert the list into a machine actionable resource, which could help with validating terms. There was some discussion about the best way to make it clear that the non-preferred terms were indeed non-preferred, because Types are currently the only terms listed in pairs; we will make sure it is clear without over-reliance on typography/purely visual cues.

Standing VS task group on MLA Thematic Indexes List (MLATI)

(Kyle Shockey, task group coordinator)

From written report:

  • Members 2019-2020: Kyle Shockey (Lead), Jenée Force, Joshua Henry
  • During the past year, the group has received 5 submissions and has made 2 additions to the MLATI list. There is a possibility of 2 more additions between the submission of this report and the MLA Annual Meeting. Additionally, the wiki documentation space for the task group was overhauled in June 2019. Additional discussion pages open to the entire Vocabularies Subcommittee will be added soon to continue the overhaul process.
  • Upcoming Business: The Vocabularies Subcommittee Chair and Task Group Lead are revising the proposal and acceptance process for MLATI shortly after the MLA meeting in order to streamline new proposals and finish outstanding proposals that did not receive proper review in the past year.
  • MLATI links: Current Thematic Indexes List; MLATI proposal form.

MLATI new business/discussion:

  • Kyle is looking into best ways to speed up the process and make it less opaque.
  • Beethoven will be headed to VS for approval soon.
  • Kyle noted that it is helpful for TG members to have access to the indexes, something to consider when groups reconfigure this year.
  • Kyle noted that catalogers should be aware that proposed terms in process are not available for use in AAPs, but can be used in MARC field 383, as long as they are noted coded $2 mlati. Action item: Rebecca or Kyle will send a push reminder about this.

Standing task group on LCMPT/LCGFT Maintenance Task Group

(Anne Adams, task group coordinator)

Anne thanked task group members, highlighted successful LCMPT proposals to cancel Filmed Musicals and Televised musicals, establish Studio recordings, and revise the LCMPT scope notes for band and wind ensemble. LCMPT “rapper” was submitted. Further details are specified in the task group’s written report.

LC Vocabs new business/discussion: Gender in voice terms

Background (Anne): This year, the Vocabulary Maintenance Task Group discussed the issue of medium of performance (and related subject headings) for choral groups which presuppose an association of gender with voice type. In attempts to create scope notes for “mixed chorus” for example, we were left wondering what it actually was. Usage has traditionally been defined along gender lines (mixed male and female voices), although that has not been historically correct (see male falsettists and castrati, female tenors, etc.) and has the additional issue of disenfranchisement of non-cis-gender singers. Other MOP terms such as “men’s chorus” and “women’s chorus” or even “boys’ chorus”, “boy soprano voice,” are also problematic, as are numerous subject headings (incorporating the terms mixed voices, men’s voices, women’s voices). The Task Group would like to have a discussion about the possible revision and/or scope note clarification of the above and related terms.


  • The task group started with mixed chorus, then looked at solo voices and noted that soprano voice has BT female, tenor BT male, but that is not always the case
  • Damian Iseminger: important to reflect vocal range (soprano, tenor)
  • What if cataloger can only identify or presume gender but not a voice type, particularly on sound recording?
  • Some gendered terms will remain, like countertenor
  • Support for retaining some terms, particularly “countertenor”
  • Mark Scharff: similar issues came up in discussion at ALA Midwinter including at Authority Control Interest Group (ACIG).
  • Q: How many LCMPT terms would be affected? Anne: Has not completed a full count, probably around ten. Post-meeting note: relevant LCMPT terms may be 11 NTs under male voice and female voice, 1 chorus term with a gendered scope note (men’s chorus), and five without (mixed, women’s, girls’, boys’, and chorus changing voices). Not sure if we want to tackle the Subject Headings terms.
  • Leo Martin: also boys chorus and adolescent voices came up during task group discussion (these don’t describe range)
  • Jim Alberts: We catalogers use male and female on daily basis, but the provisional rules for authority use of male/female for persons are restrictive (i.e., don’t make assumptions), and seems to be a very different standard than when we are applying LCMPT
  • Voice range not 1:1 with gender (e.g. within a women’s chorus, not just soprano/alto), and voice types don’t necessarily match what singer’s gender. “Changing voice” is restricted to adolescent males, but no scope for corresponding chorus term.
  • Keith Knop: there is greater variation in practice and specificity for sound recordings and so more important to consider whether to make or avoid inferences. There more information usually available in scores.
  • Jay Weitz: Certain aspects are unique to music, but maybe this should be brought to ACIG, ALA groups, ALA GLBT [now Rainbow] RT etc.: broader venue for a general consideration of how gender is treated in all controlled vocabularies.
  • Rebecca: Gender came up as major point in Authorities group in Cataloging Ethics group.

Standing Task Group on Deriving Faceted Terms from LCSH/Music Toolkit

(Rebecca Belford, as task group coordinator)

From written report of activities during 2019-2020 MLA year

  • Members: Rebecca Belford (coordinator), Anne Adams, Jeff Lyon, Jennifer Olson
  • Programmer: Gary Strawn
  • The group mapped terms from existing areas of bibliographic records to RDA terms to populate MARC 348. Began testing of installers with this feature added. No new release. Major releases are announced on the MLA/CMC blog and appropriate email lists. The installer and accompanying documentation is available from http://files.library.northwestern.edu/public/Music382/.
  • User feedback drives most of the Toolkit updates; all users are encouraged to report problems or submit suggestions via the online form (also linked from the CMC FAQ).

Deriving Faceted Terms/Toolkit new business/discussion

  • Treshani Perera: Can we facilitate advocacy for how the Toolkit will be beneficial? If needed, we’d then have talking points handy to lobby institutions to permit/support catalogers to use the tools available, e.g., macros, Toolkit, OpenRefine, Macro Express, Connexion, etc. that are critical to our work.
  • Casey Mullin: Yes, broad technology policy supporting our need for these tools would benefit all catalogers.

Standing Task Group on LCMPT/LCGFT Best Practices

(Rebecca Belford, as task group coordinator)

From written report of activities during 2019-2020 MLA year:

    • Members: Rebecca Belford (coordinator), Josh Henry, Treshani Perera, Kyle Shockey
    • Major revisions of each document were completed and approved July 8, 2019. Version 1.2 of Best Practices for Using LCGFT for Music Resources and version 1.4 of Best Practices for Using LCGFT posted to MLA website and announced on blog, email lists, and social media.
    • The coordinator has been responding to suggestions and questions and noting issues for future revisions.
    • Current and archived documents are available at https://cmc.wp.musiclibraryassoc.org/mla-best-practices/
    • Suggestions and questions are encouraged via the online form (also linked from the CMC FAQ).

LCMPT/LCGFT Best Practices new business/discussion

    • Tracey Synder (CMC Chair) clarified that the “stable URL” everyone should use to make sure they get the most recent version is the one without the version number in the name. On the new CMC site, there is a link from CMC essentials.
    • Damian noted that LC reached out to VS, and DCM Z1 will be pointing to MLA. PCC will point to us. (Yay MLA!)

New business

Task group planning for 2020-2021 (Belford)

  • Call for new coordinator, Deriving Faceted Terms/Toolkit. Leads are appointed by VS Chair, please reach out if interested.
  • Procedures/procedure documentation for task groups: Chair is working with TG leads to place detailed procedures in the wiki for smoother operation and succession planning. Rebecca is considering having actual mechanics for writing/editing of BP revisions be the work of an ad hoc task group.
  • Other projects for any of the task groups? From VS meeting: voice terms and Types plurals will be projects.
  • Anne Adams: Suggest add a suggestion box for SACO/proposals from CMC website–more than sending directly out to SACO Funnel page. Will pursue.

Related SSFV work (Belford)

  • Recap of info from CMC I meeting: requested Casey Mullin, chair of ALA SAC Subcommittee on Faceted Vocabularies (SSFV), to give a brief update on SSFV working on BPs for faceted chronological data. Rebecca will keep an eye on the many music examples as a regular SSFV member. Once their draft is finished, it gets routed to SSFV, then SAC, then becomes available for comment. Faceted focus is not strictly vocabularies related.

LC proposal process (D. Iseminger)

  • Overview to demystify LCSH, LCGFT, LCMPT proposal process
  • From PCC institution or SACO funnel, proposal goes in to ClassWeb/Minaret. The Funnel Coordinator or proposer sends an email to ‘saco’ @ loc to let them know proposal is there (there is no automated notification generated from ClassWeb). Email goes to Policy office, which alerts ‘sacomus’ that there are music proposals ready. Music Division rotates who is responsible for ‘nacomus’ and ‘sacomus’ emails each month. That person vets the proposal, and will contact submitter if any problems. If the proposal is fine, it gets printed out and sent to policy office through interagency mail. It is the printout that tells Policy that the proposal is ready. The tentative lists are then compiled and announced. FYI, the Policy meeting is open to anyone–if you are in DC during the meeting, you can go!
  • Damian wants to more directly involve SACO Music Funnel Coordinator as another set of eyes on proposals. Incoming SMFC, Beth Iseminger, is willing to review.
  • Comments on tentative lists are open for three weeks, and anyone can send in comments. Some lists can contain 10-20 music terms.

Thematic Indexes at LC (D. Iseminger)

  • FYI when considering indexes for use in authorized access points, LC considers 1) Does LC have the index? They can’t use if LC does not have it or can’t get to it via a standard reference sources. 2) How many libraries own the index according to WorldCat, because they want libraries to have access to be able to make the index something that can be part of cooperative efforts across everyone doing authority work.
  • Josh Henry: At the last VS meeting, Jean Harden had mentioned UNT digitization project, copyright hurdles. Any updates? No other info since then.
  • Damian: They favor numbering used by composer (e.g. composer’s own opus numbers). Note that LC recorded sound catalogers do not have access to the Music Division’s (print) reference sources, and that is probably true for many catalogers who are not geographically near their music reference sources.

Musical parodies, same music new words (Sue Weiland via MOUG-L)

  • The question was for an item in hand that was a recent album, parodying existing songs by adding new words. The only LCGFT that currently matches is “Contrafacta” which is not intuitive for modern users outside musicology context. Solution may be to redefine the scope of “Musical parodies” (usage currently opera). Anne Adams will add this to the task group’s upcoming work.

Rap/Hip hop LCGFT (Tracey Snyder)

  • Historically, in LCSH, the terms are combined: Hip-hop music is a see reference to Rap (Music)
  • LCGFT: Recently, Hip-hop (Music) was added as its own term distinct from Rap (Music); both are under Popular music. Do we want to try to make a case for rap as a NT of Hip hop? Or leave as-is? Either way, narrower terms of each need to be reexamined now that Hip-hop has been established; older terms only reflect Rap.
  • Kirk-Evan Billet [former LC Vocabs maintenance task group coordinator]: please go back through and look prior proposal and discussion among VS (on CMC wiki).
  • Hermine Vermeij: They seem at least candidates for related terms. The Subject Headings Manual allows the RT relationship so close one is needed to define the other, e.g. LCSH “Rugs” and “Carpets” are RTs, even though both are NT under “Floor coverings.”

Future of LCSH for form-genre access? (open discussion)

  • At what point does MLA recommend that we no longer use LCSH for form-genre? Application question–separate from cancelling of any headings.
  • At an institution where all LCGFT are stripped from their local catalog. If records start immediately coming through without LCSH, that would be catastrophic locally until local policies change.
  • It would be helpful after pilot at BYU, we should look at WorldCat and maybe apply a pared down/conservative/safe version of Music Toolkit.
  • If we don’t continue to apply LCSH, we would not be doing double work.
  • Q: Are the LC manuals still draft? These have been ‘coming soon’. LC staffing limited.
  • Clarify that we are referring now to genre/form LCSH. There are LC headings for which use cannot be discontinued because there is no replacement, such as Buddhist music, Topic–Songs and music, terms with geographic or chronological focus.
  • There is nothing to prevent other programmers from experimenting with the algorithm in a shared effort; perhaps using something like MarcEdit and the WorldCat metadata API. The Toolkit’s code is not shared, but the documentation is open source.
  • Citing institution with no genre index, there suggests renewed effort at advocacy for discovery systems that can use LCGFT.


Respectfully submitted,

Rebecca Belford

March 24, 2020