Vocabularies Subcommittee: MLA Report 2017

Vocabularies Subcommittee
Business Meeting
Friday, February 24, 2017, 1:30-2:55 pm
Rosen Plaza Hotel, Orlando (Salon 5)

Members present: Casey Mullin (Chair), Rebecca Belford, Kirk-Evan Billet, Reed David, Matt Ertz, Ralph Hartsock, Jeff Lyon, Jacob Schaub, Ann Shaffer, Hannah Spence, Jennifer Vaughn, Janelle West, Brad  Young, Maarja Vigorito (LC Representative), Jay Weitz(OCLC Representative), Nancy Lorimer (SACO Music Funnel Coordinator), Mark Scharff (NACO-Music Project Coordinator)
Absent: Jim Alberts, Nurhak Tuncer
Visitors present: 34

Mullin thanked outgoing VS members Matt Ertz and Janelle West for their service.

VS Chair’s report (Mullin)

Mullin alerted the meeting to his ALA liaison reports from Annual 2016 (Orlando) and Midwinter 2017
(Atlanta), both available on Google Drive.
Annual 2016:
Midwinter 2017:

The past year’s work continued to utilize a task group system. Reports of particular groups’ activities during the past year are summarized below. Each subcommittee member is required to serve on at least one group; additional group assignments are encouraged so long as the member can commit to the additional work. Assignments carry over from year to year until the member’s term ends, or a re-assignment is requested by the member (this should ideally occur only during the transition time around the Annual Meeting). For the coming year, each group will have vacancies, to be filled by new subcommittee members and continuing members seeking new/additional assignments. The deriving faceted terms from LCSH Task Group in particular will be quite active in the coming year.

Shortly after ALA Annual in Orlando, Mullin was appointed to chair the ALA/SAC/SGFI Working Group on Full Implementation of Library of Congress Faceted Vocabularies. Its charge and a report on the first draft of the white paper they are writing is included in the Midwinter 2017 report linked above.

LC Liaison’s report (Vigorito)

Vigorito made a few announcements taken from the general LC liaisons report for MLA 2017.

Types of Composition List Task Group (West, and all)

Janelle West, who coordinated the work of the TOC task group, gave a report summarizing the group’s activities over the past year. The group (with the help of the CMC Webmaster) added 13 new entries and
edited 2 entries in the TOC list.

Mullin then reported on the results of the cognate definition project, which resulted in two new RDA best practices clauses, at and The new text is as follows:

MLA-BP for

MLA recommendation: For titles consisting solely of the name of one type of composition, evaluate evidence in resources embodying the work and reference sources broadly. Reference sources include, but are not limited to, music encyclopedias, thematic catalogs and other bibliographies, and authorized access points for similar works by the same composer found in the Library of Congress/NACO Authority File. In some cases, a preponderance of evidence will support a preferred title in a language other than the original language used by the composer.

100 1_ Beethoven, Ludwig van, $d 1770-1827. $t Gesange, $n op. 75
400 1_Beethoven, Ludwig van, $d 1770-1827. $t Songs, $n op. 75

Titles on resource: Sechs Gesange = Six songs : op. 75
Title in Kinsky: Sechs Gesange fur eine Singstimme mit Klavierbegleitung, opus 75
Title in Grove Music Online: Six songs, op. 75
Original language chosen for the preferred title


100 1_ Bartók, Béla, $d 1881-1945. $t Quartets, $m violins (2), viola, cello, $n no. 1, op. 7
400 1_ Bartók, Béla, $d 1881-1945. $t Négyesek, $m violins (2), viola, cello, $n no. 1, op. 7

Titles on resource: I. vonósnégyes = Streichquartett Nr. 1 = String quartet no. 1 : op. 7
Title in Somfai: String quartet no. 1, op. 7
Title in Grove Music Online: String quartet no. 1, op. 7
Title in Antokoletz: I. vonósnégyes [String quartet no. 1] op. 7
Preferred title chosen for other Bartok string quartets already present in the LCNAF: Quartets
English language chosen for the preferred title

MLA-BP for

MLA recommendation: Follow LC-PCC PS.

Consult the alphabetical list at Types of Composition for Use in Authorized Access Points for Music to determine if the type term in question is treated as cognate with a type term in English, and for possible additional instructions regarding that type term. If the type term is not reflected in the list, submit a request for review to the MLA Vocabularies Subcommittee representative identified on the Types website.

The MLA Vocabularies Subcommittee defines the word “cognate” using the Oxford English dictionary definition: “Coming naturally from the same root, or representing the same original word, with differences due to subsequent separate phonetic development.” Reasonable research will be undertaken to determine cognate status. In cases of inconclusive or conflicting evidence, the type term will not be treated as cognate with an English term.

Although the new BP text at is not without controversy, after several rounds of wordsmithing it was deemed acceptable to a majority of the participants in the discussion, and will proceed to inclusion in the April 2017 revision of the MLA RDA Best Practices. Subsequent to that, further discussion is needed at the CMC level or within the Content Standards Committee regarding whether a LC-PCC PS revision should be sought. There is a concern that the Types list is “hidden” from many catalogers who might not think to consult the MLA Best Practices and who are not strictly required to follow them. Mullin asked Tracey Snyder, CMC Chair, to take the matter under advisement.

West was thanked for her report and for her leadership of the task group. As she is rotating off the subcommittee, a new task group coordinator is being sought.

SACO Music Funnel Coordinator report (Lorimer)

Lorimer referenced her report to CMC:
“Over the past year, I have been working with the Library of Congress to finish the final list of terms for inclusion in LCGFT from the initial genre/form project. Once this is complete, LC will open up the music hierarchy for new term submissions from the cataloging community. We are hoping this will happen before the MLA Annual meeting the end of February. Once open, submissions may be made through Minaret, if you have access and are confident with genre/form terms. If you don’t have access or want some help, I encourage you to submit through the Music Funnel. See the Funnel page at or contact me at For now, please continue submitting all LCMPT terms through the Funnel only.

In partnership with the LCMPT & LCGFT subgroups of the Vocabularies Subcommittee, I am in the process of submitting terms resulting from two projects–electronic instruments (LCMPT) and Musical texts (LCGFT), the first being a reworking of current terms, and the second a completely new hierarchy. These should appear within the next few months.”

Lorimer announced at the NACO/BIBCO/SACO participants meeting that LCGFT is now open for direct community proposals for new and revised music terms.

LCMPT Maintenance Task Group (Billet, and all)

Kirk-Evan Billet, who coordinated the work of the LCMPT Maintenance task group, gave a report summarizing the group’s activities over the past year. The group undertook one project, which began as an effort to distinguish a term for hymns from a term for hymn texts. This evolved into a larger effort to establish a hierarchy for Musical texts, which contains general and specific terms for texts associated with musical works that are manifested separately from the music. The array of terms is as follows:

Musical texts
Librettos (already in LCGFT)
Sacred music texts
Hymn texts

Song texts
Hymn texts
Popular music lyrics
Rock lyrics

The terms will appear on LC Tentative Monthly List 1704 With this hierarchy, additional terms for texts associated with other musical genres may be proposed as they are needed.

A related topic was raised by an observer, that is the problematic designation of authors whose texts are set to music as “$e author” in RDA cataloging. This problem will be exacerbated if the LCSH practice of giving a subject heading for such a person with “$v Musical settings” is deprecated. Ideally, there ought to be RDA relationship designators for each type of musical text term in LCGFT. For example, librettist and Librettos, lyricist and Popular music lyrics, and so on. A major lacuna in RDA at this point is a designator that corresponds to “texts” in LCGFT.

Task group high priorities for the coming year include:
Spinning off Hip hop from Rap (Music) as a separate genre
Revising Underground dance music to Electronic dance music
Establishing Romances (Music) (a term “held over” from initial release of the music hierarchy)

The following project areas, identified as task group priorities last year, remain to be taken up later:
Addressing the “flute problem,” that is, terms that stand for all instruments of a type AND for the most common member of that family. This is a common feature in thesaurus construction and most likely cannot be avoided; however, scope notes can and should be clarified and re-worded as appropriate
Adjusting the voice/singer hierarchy in LCMPT
Adjusting the Part songs hierarchy in LCGFT
Harmonization of performance terms with pre-existing sound recordings hierarchy in LCGFT

Billet was thanked for his report and for his leadership of the task group.

Thematic Indexes List (MLATI) Task Group (Schaub, and all)

Jacob Schaub, who coordinated the work of the MLATI task group, gave a report summarizing the group’s activities over the past year. The group (with the help of the CMC Webmaster) added nine new and revised
entries to MLATI.

Mullin thanked Morris Levy from the Content Standards Subcommittee for his many proposals and ensuing participation in discussions.

Following the report, VS engaged in a discussion regarding incorporating Linked Data into MLATI, and/or registering it as an RDA vocabulary. The first iteration of MLATI (created by Damian Iseminger and the Authorities Subcommittee, and hosted on the old BCC website) did feature Linked Data-friendly RDFa markup. A number of scenarios were put forth, including registering MLATI in the Open Metadata Registry and creating a separate instantiation of MLATI as RDF triples (to parallel the human readable webpage). The Linked Data for Performed Music project (LD4PM) has done ontology work related to thematic index numbers, and those newly-defined classes in the Performed Music Ontology could be utilized in Linked Data graphs describing musical works. A concern raised by Lorimer is that thematic indexex, which MLATI describes, are works themselves (in the BIBFRAME and FRBR sense), while the list also justifies the use of thematic index abbreviations in authorized access points and codes in authority data for musical works. What are the use cases for the repurposed MLATI data, what assertions should be made, which entities exactly should be assigned URIs, and which classes and properties should be used to make assertions about these reference works? Further ontological work is needed before a Linked Data project of this sort can be viably undertaken. For their part, LD4PM should consult with VS as it continues its work in this area. VS will continue to investigate the idea.

Two projects for the task group for the coming year were identified:
1) Revising the introduction to the MLATI webpage to clarify the intended scope of the list. A narrow definition of “thematic catalogs” would exclude authoritative reference sources that nonetheless lack incipits. Many such catalogs already exist in MLATI.
2) Harmonizing 667 notes in composer NARs with corresponding entries in MLATI. This project was suggested last year, and has been deferred to the coming year.

Schaub was thanked for his report and for his leadership of the task group.

LCMPT/LCGFT Best Practices Task Group (Mullin)

Mullin reported on the recent release of the 2017 revision of the document Best Practices for Using LCMPT. It incorporates the following new content:
1. Guidance for use of the new 382 subfields $r and $t
2. Expanded guidance on “bi-level” medium statements
3. Expanded guidance on partial medium statements
4. Clarification on polychoral situations

Mullin has been in contact with Janis Young, LC Policy and Standards Division, regarding how MLA’s best practices will dovetail with forthcoming LC manual content. Its Genre/Form Terms Manual ( has been released, with a placeholder instruction sheet for music. A separate Medium of Performance Terms Manual is anticipated. The best practices task group will remain in a holding pattern while LC PSD prepares its music content. It is likely that VS will continue to follow a 1-2 year revision cycle for each of its documents, assuming separate MLA documents are desirable and necessary after LC content is available.

Task Group on Deriving Faceted Terms from LCSH (Mullin)

Mullin reported on the activity of this working group over the past year. Following on the preliminary work done by the former Subject Access Subcommittee just prior to the 2015 MLA Annual Meeting, the current VS group evaluated several iterations of a program written by Gary Strawn (Northwestern University) to derive LCMPT terms in 382 fields from LCSH music form/genre/medium headings in 650 fields. The latest version (and associated natural-language documentation) was completed by Strawn in May 2015, and the documentation and test results are available on Google Drive.

During the past year, the VS group turned to the second phase of the project, mapping LCSH music headings to all non-382 facets, including genre/form (655), audience characteristics (385), creator characteristics (386), geographic (370) and chronological (046). After preparing a first draft of this algorithm, Mullin sent it to Strawn for feedback, programming and testing. Based on Strawn’s feedback, several refinements were made to the mappings, and Strawn ran the program on thousands of bibliographic records in Northwestern’s database.

Also during the past year, a task group in the ALA Subcommittee on Genre/Form Implementation prepared
a mapping of LCSH form subdivisions to their corresponding LCGFT and LCDGT terms. The VS group prepared mappings for music LCSH subdivisions and select fixed field codes. The combined mapping document is referred to in the VS algorithm is available here:

The results of Strawn’s recent tests are on Google Drive and are ready for analysis by the VS group. During the coming year, testing will continue on both algorithms, refining them as needed to account for logical gaps/discrepancies, as well as new LCSH, LCGFT, LCMPT and LCDGT terms. A number of open questions are under discussion. Additionally, Mullin was contacted by Robert Bremer of OCLC Research, who is interested in possibly collaborating with MLA to test these retrospective derivations on WorldCat. It is proving to be a busy year ahead for this task group, and so additional members will be appointed to carry out this high-priority project.

Respectfully submitted,
Casey Mullin