Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Music

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This Manual of Style (MOS) for Wikipedia music articles encourages editors to follow consistent usage and formatting. Other MOS subpages are linked in the menu to the right. If the MOS does not specify a preferred usage, please discuss the issue on the talk page.

Music articles vary in their intended readership: some articles are written for the widest audience of general readers; others, especially those on technical subjects (e.g., Metric modulation) are for readers with specialized knowledge. Whenever possible, aim for a broad readership.

See WikiProject Music terminology for details of terminology.

Accidentals[edit]

Use either the {{music}} template flat {{music|flat}} () and sharp {{music|sharp}} () symbols or the words flat and sharp. According to The Unicode Standard 5.0, chapter 15.11, these are distinct from b (the lowercase letter b) or # (the number sign), hence b and # should not be used to indicate "flat" or "sharp". This template has the advantage of working in Microsoft Internet Explorer; see Template:Music for details. Examples:

  • Key signature:
    • Right: E-flat major[1]
    • Right: E major
    • Wrong: Eb major
  • D major triad:
    • Right: D, F, A
    • Right: D, F-sharp, A
    • Wrong: D, F#, A
  • D major triad:
    • Right: D—Fdouble sharp—A
    • Right: D-sharp—F-double-sharp—A-sharp
    • Wrong: D#—FX—A#
    • Wrong: D#—F##—A#
    • Wrong: D—F—A

The {{music}} template is recommended for the natural sign, {{music|natural}} produces , and for double sharps and flats, {{music|doublesharp}} and {{music|doubleflat}} produce double sharp and double flat. Either {{music|flat stroke}} flat stroke or {{music|halfflat}} half flat may be used instead of for a half flat, while {{music|halfsharp}} half sharp may be used for a half sharp. Double sharps, double flats and quarter-tone accidentals use Scalable Vector Graphics in order to display correctly.

Capitalization[edit]

  1. Standard English text formatting and capitalization rules apply to the names of bands and individual artists (see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Trademarks and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Proper names).
  2. The first letter in the first and last words in English song, album and other titles is capitalized. The first letter in the other words is also capitalized, except for short coordinating conjunctions, prepositions, and articles ("short" meaning those with fewer than five letters), as well as the word to in infinitives. For details, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style (capital letters)#Composition titles.
  3. The vast majority of music genres are not proper nouns, and thus should not be capitalized.
  4. Use lowercase, not capitals, for instruments (piano, guitar, vocals, etc.) in personnel lists.

Chords, progressions, and figured bass[edit]

Conventional chords are indicated through the use of upper and lowercase roman numerals, or letters with a key signature provided, indicating root and quality, separated by en dash (– = "–") without spaces on either side. For example:

Numbers (Nashville notation) and letters (diatonic function) indicating function should be avoided:

  • 2–5–1
  • SpDT

When part of a chord progression, chords should be spaced equally if they take an equal portion of the progression's duration. Vertical lines may indicate bar divisions:

iii7–VI7 | ii7–V7 | I   ||

or, in C:

e7–A7 | d7–G7 | C   ||

Rather than lowercase letters to indicate minor, uppercase letters followed by a lowercase "m" may be used:

  • in C: Dm–G–C

The degree symbol ("°") indicates a diminished chord. It can be produced by typing &deg;, &#176, or (on Windows PCs) Alt+0176 on the numeric pad / (Mac) Option+Shift+8. A superscript lower case "o" (<sup>o</sup>) may be used instead. The slashed o, "ø", which may not display correctly for all readers, is produced by superscripting the character produced by typing &oslash;, &#248;, or Alt+0248. For both of these there is an application of {{music}}: {{music|dim}} becomes o and {{music|dimslash}} becomes ø (e.g. Co and Cø).

For inversions and the degree sign superscript and subscript may be done thus:

  • vii<sup>o</sup> , I<sub>6</sub> .

which looks like:

  • viio, I6.

Superscript and subscript may be combined, as in figured bass, in math markup, <math>C_4^6</math> = C_4^6, see Help:Displaying a formula or m:Help:Displaying a formula. Also: Template:SubSup.

Classical music titles[edit]

Generic titles are not specific to one musical work. These titles typically take the name of a musical form such as concerto, overture, quartet, sonata, suite, symphony, etc. Titles of liturgical works (such as agnus dei, kyrie, mass, requiem, etc.) are considered generic titles. Generic titles should not be italicized.[2]

  • Piano Concerto No. 5
  • Sixth Symphony
  • Requiem

True titles are specific to a single work. These are titles given by the composer, much as an author titles a novel. True titles are always italicized:

  • From me flows what you call time
  • Pelléas et Mélisande

When true titles are mixed with generic titles, as is often the case in overtures and suites, only the true title is italicized. The generic portion of the title is not italicized and should always be in English even if the true portion of the title is in a foreign language.

  • Overture to The Bartered Bride
  • L'Arlésienne Suite No. 1

There are a few rare instances where a work has what appears to be a generic title but is actually a true title. Generally, if a symphony is referred to by name and not also numbered, the title is actually a true title given by the composer. These should be in italics as well.

  • Symphonie fantastique
  • Copland's Dance Symphony
  • Beethoven's Battle Symphony

Often, works with a generic title and / or a true title are also known by a common title or nickname. Avoid using the common title with the true title. Acceptable methods for specifying the nickname after the generic title are:

  1. in parentheses: Symphony No. 9 (New World Symphony)
  2. quoted in parentheses: Symphony No. 9 ("New World" Symphony)
  3. italics in parentheses: Symphony No. 9 (New World Symphony)
  4. quoted set off by a comma: Symphony No. 9, "New World" Symphony
  5. italics set off by a comma: Symphony No. 9, New World Symphony

When referring to a work by nickname alone:

  1. quoted: "New World" Symphony
  2. italicized: New World Symphony
  3. unadorned: New World Symphony

Note that the generic portion of the common name or nickname—"Symphony", in this case—is not italicized.

Any of these methods may be used; however, usage should be consistent within an article.

Song titles are enclosed in quotes. True titles of song cycles are italicized. Foreign-language song titles are not italicized.

  • "Wenn ich in deine Augen seh' " from Dichterliebe—note that there is a &nbsp; character code between the trailing apostrophe and the ending quote: ...Augen seh'&nbsp;" ... (the {{nbsp}} template can also be used)

Generic movement titles (such as tempo markings or terms like minuet and trio) are capitalized with a single initial capital—that is, only the first word is capitalized—and are not italicized. Often, movements are described by multiple tempo markings. In this case, the tempo markings should be separated by en dashes set off by spaces (consider using the {{spaced ndash}} template), and the first letter of each tempo marking should be capitalized. True movement titles are enclosed in quotation marks. Once again, foreign language terms are not italicized.

  • Un poco sostenuto – Allegro from Brahms's First Symphony
  • "Von der Wissenschaft" from Also sprach Zarathustra
  • Kyrie from Mozart's Requiem

The formal title of a work from the classical repertoire includes its genre or performing force, key, and index number. For modern works, the key or index number may not exist, but the genre or performing force should always be specified. There is no requirement to use formal titles on Wikipedia. However, in an article about a single composition of classical music, all the information one would get from a formal title should be included in the lead. Often, using the formal title to introduce the work is the most elegant way to convey this information.

Opus, work, and measure numbers[edit]

Opus and work numbers are used to identify specific compositions within the catalogue of specific composers. Measure numbers are used to identify specific parts of compositions. If used on Wikipedia the terms should not be italicized and not capitalized (Chicago 15, 8.204)[3]. If the number specifies a particular work (is used restrictively rather than simply providing additional information) it should not be set off by commas[3] (thus measure numbers should be set off by commas since they provide additional information about a work). The following three examples all convey the same information:

The en dash rather than the hyphen must be used for ranges of numbers (measures 1–4 rather than measures 1-4). While "Op." may remain unlinked, specific catalogue designations should be linked: "BWV 1079".

Abbreviations[edit]

Some abbreviations are always used in music articles. These forms are standard:

  • Op.<space><number> for opus (Op. 31)
  • No.<space><number> for number (Op. 31, No. 2)
  • Opp.<space><numbers separated by commas and spaces> for the plural of Opus (Opp. 51, 82 and 93)
  • Op. posth.<space>, or Op. posth.<space><number> for opus posthumous

Use &nbsp; after abbreviations.

  • Note: , and signs should not be used in article titles or headings.

Discographies[edit]

  1. Pages on artists, groups or works should have recording and discography sections as appropriate. These should be subdivided into albums and singles, audio and video recordings, or other simple systems as required.
  2. If the discography of an artist, group or work becomes disproportionately large in relation to the rest of the article, it should be split into a subpage list (preferably titled "<Name> discography").
  3. Do not use album, record or DVD covers in discographies, as this is an unnecessary use of images and is not compatible with Wikipedia's fair use policy.

Equivalent terms in different varieties of English[edit]

An article in Wikipedia should use one national variety of English consistently. This principle applies to music terminology: use musical terms from the variety of English in which the article is written. Consider showing alternative terms from other English varieties in parentheses on their first appearance. Example: "The first crotchet (quarter note) in the bar is loudest." See Manual of Style: National varieties of English.

Images and notation[edit]

  1. Wikipedia needs to use free images. Fair use is usable only in certain circumstances. Copyrighted images, such as album covers, can be used in an article only if a fair use rationale, specific to that article, appears on the image page.
    1. The {{Non-free album cover}} template establishes fair use only in an article about the album in question.
    2. Fair use images cannot be used purely for decoration.
    3. Fair use images cannot be used in discography sections.
    4. Fair use images should be used sparingly. Each image must contribute specifically, uniquely and irreplaceably to the article.
  2. Images should be laid out in an unobtrusive manner.
    1. Start the article with a right-aligned image.
    2. When using multiple images in the same article, they can be staggered left-and-right (Example: Platypus).
    3. Avoid sandwiching text between two images facing each other.
  3. Music-related images on Wikipedia include icons, examples, and illustrations. Icons include File:Musical note nicu bucule 01.svg Musical note nicu bucule 01.svg as displayed on Portal:Music. Small images giving examples should be displayed in text, without framing. For example, an image accompanying the mention of "bass clef" in a different article is displayed well this way. Medium images giving examples should be displayed in thumbnails to the right (or stagger right and left if frequent). For example, most images of chords should be displayed this way, while their motivic elaborations should be displayed as illustrations. Large images giving segments of music or depicting features of music should be displayed in thumbnails on the left or center of the page at 550px for visibility. For example, most melodies and scales should be displayed this way, while chords and simultaneities should be displayed to the right as small as reasonably visible. Images of chords should generally not include octave repetitions. Images of scales must include the repetition of the octave to indicate octave equivalency. Sections of music should follow Wikipedia:Uploading images including the use of Wikipedia:File copyright tags and copyrights. See also: Wikipedia:No original research. Images and the display of musical notation should follow the following guidelines:
    1. Graphics of musical examples should be large enough to be legible but not so large that they overwhelm the text of an article. They also should not contain inordinate space between the notes.
    2. When creating a graphic in a musical notation program keep the score as large as possible (through the layout or display setting in your notation program). If your example is short, three measure or less, you may increase its size on the page and decrease the page margins. That way the example will be as large as possible, but will not contain large spaces between the notes. Example of large image size with little space between notes: D'Indy Tristan chord IV6-V small.PNG
    3. Save the file as type or extension .PNG. If .PNG is not an option in your notation program then save the score as another type of image file and convert that to .PNG (with Paint, for instance). Trim the image so that it only contains the example (no blank space or large margins!) and upload it to Wikipedia.
    4. When you display that image in an article, then you specify the desired size between pipes ("|"s) as follows: [[File:Example.png|550px|Example image]] Images larger than 550 pixels wide may not be conveniently displayed on 800×600 monitors, so keep images below that size where possible.
  4. Use {{Commons}} to link to images on Commons wherever possible.
  5. Use an informative and concise caption or alternative text for each image.
  6. The sharp (♯) and flat (♭) signs are &#9839; and &#9837;, respectively. A natural (♮) can be entered with &#9838;.
  7. Superscript and subscript may be combined, as in figured bass, in math markup, <math>C_6^4</math> = C_6^4, see Wikipedia:TeX markup or m:Help:Formula.
  8. A superscript circle, or degree sign, which indicates a diminished chord, that may not display correctly for everyone, "°", can be produced by typing &deg;, &#176, or (on Windows PCs) Alt+0176. A superscript lower case "o" (<sup>o</sup>) may be used instead. The slashed o, "ø", which may not display correctly for all readers, is produced by superscripting the character produced by typing &oslash; or &#248;, or by keying Alt+0248.
  9. For inversions and the degree sign superscript and subscript may be done thus: vii<sup>o</sup>, I<sub>6</sub>. This looks like: viio, I6.

Italian music terms[edit]

Many musical terms that are commonly used in English are Italian in origin. These terms should not be italicized. For example:

  • attacca
  • aria
  • divisi

However, bear in mind that not all readers will understand the terms. If in doubt, provide a hyperlink to Italian musical terms used in English. For example:

The second section is marked as Adagio

There is no hard rule on plurals of Italian terms being anglicized.

  • cellos or celli
  • concertos or concerti
  • tempi or tempos

However, use a consistent scheme within a single article.

Lists[edit]

  1. Short lists (of compositions, recordings, etc.) may be useful in biographies and articles about works of music, however when they become disproportionately long in relation to the main article they should be split into dedicated subpages.
  2. Music genre articles should not contain lists of performers. A separate list page may be created.
  3. Lists should not generally include musicians who do not have an article.

Lyrics[edit]

Shortcuts:
  1. Copyrighted lyrics can only be used under the WP:Non-free content provision. Thus, they should only be used to illustrate specific points, documented by relevant sources.
  2. Lists of quotes from songs or other compositions or recordings are inappropriate, as are any sections consisting entirely or primarily of quotes.
  3. Uncopyrighted lyrics can be used freely. However, they should be incorporated into an article only to illustrate specific points, and documented by relevant sources.

Major and minor[edit]

Treat "major" and "minor" as regular words; i.e., the first letter should be lowercase, unless it starts a sentence. Abbreviated key signatures and chord spellings (such as "Cm" and "BM", or "c" and "B") should be avoided in prose.

In prose, rather than analysis, always use the capital letter, adding the words major or minor if necessary,[4] for example, "the piece is in D minor" or "the B major concerto".

Names (definite article)[edit]

An authoritative source will determine whether the word "the" is part of a band's name. For example, it should be included in the case of the Velvet Underground, but not in that of Black Sabbath. For articles named after a band, a redirect (or disambiguation) should be created with the alternative name (with or without "the").

Mid-sentence, per the MoS, the word "the" should in general not be capitalized in continuous prose, e.g.:

  • Wings featured Paul McCartney from the Beatles and Denny Laine from the Moody Blues.

However, "the" should be capitalized mid-sentence when it begins the name of an album or other artwork:

  • The double album The Beatles is commonly known as the White Album.

Names (foreign language)[edit]

For classical music, the letters, accents and diacritics in the original language should be preserved when referring to works by their original language title (provided that language uses the Latin alphabet), e.g. Schöpfungsmesse not Schopfungsmesse nor Schoepfungsmesse, Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune not Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune. Otherwise, following capitalization found in most reliable English-language sources is recommended. If there are too few reliable English-sources available, follow the conventions of the language related to the piece.

The names of works, and other terms, should be marked up with the {{lang}} template, using the appropriate two-letter language code. For example, to link to the article for the work "Deutschlandlied", use "{{lang|de|[[Deutschlandlied]]}}" which will appear as "Deutschlandlied".

Names of organisations and institutions[edit]

Shortcut:

Names of organisations and institutions (e.g. orchestras, musical ensembles and groups, concert halls, festivals, schools, etc.) should follow official usage (i.e. the spelling, punctuation, etc. used by the organisation’s own publications). In the case of non-English names, we use official English versions if and when they have been established by the organisation itself. If not, we use the native name. Original English names, translated from other languages, should not be created.

Nationality (biographies)[edit]

The nationality of composers, historic singers, etc. has sometimes been controversial. Here are three guidelines:

  1. Nationality should refer to national identity, in other words the national group with which the person identified, not the state of which the person was a citizen or subject.
  2. Nationality should not be anachronistic/retrospective, i.e. for historic figures it should not be defined by present-day borders and states, but by contemporary ones.
  3. If there is any doubt about the nationality of an individual, we should be inclusive and use a double designation (e.g. Anglo-German) both in the introduction and in the categories.

Popular music[edit]

Shortcuts:

In popular music, album and EP titles should be italicized and song and single titles should be in quotes: "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" by the Beatles was included on their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The names of concert tours are not formatted beyond ordinary capitalization.

Per the overall MOS guidance to use logical quotation, punctuation should be placed outside the quotation marks of songs: Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited album includes the songs "Like a Rolling Stone", "Ballad of a Thin Man", and "Desolation Row". Of course, if the song title itself contains punctuation, it goes inside: "Help!" by the Beatles was featured in both a film and an album.

Avoid referring to an artist's second album or single as "sophomore", as this term is not widely understood outside North America.

Stringed instrument tunings[edit]

For details, examples, and rationale, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Stringed instrument tunings

In articles on stringed instruments and related topics, information on the tuning of the strings is very often included. The formatting of this information needs careful thought as the conventions used by major critics, encyclopedias, and journals are not consistent with each other on all points.

When describing the tuning of a stringed instrument:

  • Always list the closest (normally bass) string first, so that the standard guitar-tuning is E–A–D–G–B–E.
  • Always number the furthest (normally treble) string as "one", so that the second string of a standard guitar-tuning is the B string.
  • In other matters, be consistent within the article.

Tables[edit]

Tables are appropriate for lists with three or more fields. Sortable tables are appropriate for longer lists, that may be reordered according to title, genre, date, or place, etc. Sorting should always ignore definite and indefinite articles, so sorting tags will usually be required.

Types of music articles[edit]

Types of music articles include biographical articles about musicians, articles about compositions, songs, or albums, and informative or documentary articles about theory or practice.

For example, articles about musical intervals on Wikipedia currently feature an interval infobox on the top left listing information such as name and size, followed by a picture of music notation of the interval on C. At some point in between cited well known examples of songs or pieces beginning with the interval are given. Articles conclude with the interval template listing other intervals. Most articles describe the names, ratios, cents, and uses in fairly standard order, and if not it would be preferable that they do so.

Usage[edit]

Some musical terms have multiple possible meanings. Unless a different meaning is obvious from the context (e.g., in a quote), use the same terminology as Wikipedia titles.

  1. Popular music is a broad category usually used in contrast to "classical music" or folk music; it need not be particularly popular. Pop music is mainstream, commercial, chart-topping music.
  2. "Classical music" is a broad term for mainstream Western tradition music dating from the Medieval period onwards. The term "classical music" did not exist before about 1836, when it was used to refer to the music of the Classical era (of roughly 1750–1820). Many editors feel that it is inappropriate for music written since the end of the 19th century, hence the quotation marks (inverted commas) which are commonly used as a short-hand for "so-called". (Unless it is clear from the context, do not refer to "classical music" without qualifying it as "Western", "Indian", etc.)
  3. Folk music is orally transmitted and generally informal and non-commercial. Traditional music and roots music are assumed synonyms. Music such as that of Bob Dylan should be described as and linked to something more specific, such as roots revival.
  4. Hip hop music is a music genre. The act of rapping is performed by rappers. When referring to a genre, "hip hop" should be used, except in circumstances such as "gangsta rap". The word "hip hop" is, like most music genres, not capitalized; it is also not hyphenated.
  5. The use of titles within articles should follow the same conventions as for titles; see #Titles and section headings.

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ Wingell (2009), p. 93–94.
  2. ^ Wingell, Richard J. (2009). Writing About Music: An Introductory Guide, p. 91. Fourth edition. ISBN 0-13-615778-5.
  3. ^ a b Wingell (2009), p. 92.
  4. ^ Wingell (2009), p. 93.