Talk:Browse by genre/Archive

This discussion has been archived. Please do not edit the contents of this page, and bear in mind that some of the proposals shown below have been supersededP.davydov 22:19, 27 December 2009 (UTC)

Changes to the Genre System

For the background to these proposals, see this forum message. Previous suggestions were submitted and withdrawn following discussions in October 2009. The text below replaces these previous suggestions, and it is anticipated the new system will be introduced early in 2010.


Present system

At the moment there are five main headings ("meta-generes"):

  1. Instrumental (chamber)
  2. Instrumental (other)
  3. Opera
  4. Vocal (non-operatic)
  5. Books

These are further divided into 57 'genres', which can be seen here. Unfortunately these have proved difficult to use, and unsatsifactory for the purpose of identifying works of a particular type.

Previous proposals (mainly from the latter half of 2009) have been based on "top-down" systems of large categories that were sub-divided into smaller groups. Unfortunately these proved to be unsatisfactory for many reasons.


The main difficulty with the existing system (and those designed to replace it) is that it took a "top-down" approach, starting with broad categories based either on style or on instrumentation, and then attempted to sub-divide these into smaller headings. It became clear that no one arrangement could meet all the necessary requirements.

New Proposals

The new system adopts a "bottom-up" approach by "tagging" each work page with a description, and then grouping works with similar tags into larger categories. These groupings can be made according to work type ("genre") or instrumentation, or mixtures of both.


Each page will be given a simple "Tag" or description, normally consisting of two elements: work type and instrumentation.

Taking some random examples:

On IMSLP the tag would be the equivalent of a Wiki category. So for each of the above tags we will automatically generate new category pages:

  • The category "Lieder for solo voice and piano" (including a link to Schubert's D.770)
  • The category "Sonatas for piano" (including a link to Dussek's Op.10/1), and so on

Now, taking advantage of the Wiki's ability to "nest" categories, we can automatically place each of these pages into larger categories as well:

  • The category "Lieder for solo voice and piano" will belong to the categories "Lieder" and "Compositions for solo voice and piano"
  • The category "Sonatas for piano" will belong to the categories "Sonatas" and "Compositions for piano solo"
  • The category "Trios for oboe, cello and piano" will belong to the categories "Trios for Woodwind, Strings and Keyboard" and "Compositions featuring the Oboe" and "Compositions featuring the cello" (the term "featuring" being used for prominent solo instruments in a larger grouping)
  • The category "Chansons for Voice and Piano" will belong to the categories "Chansons" and "Compositions for solo voice"
  • The category "Fantasias for orchestra" will belong to the categories "Fantasias" and "Compositions for orchestra"
  • The category "Opera for voices and baroque instruments" will belong to the categories "Operas" and "Compositions for voices and baroque instruments"
  • The category "Trios for voices with orchestra" will belong to the categories "Trios for mixed voices" and "Compositons for solo voices with orchestra"
  • The category "Symphonies for solo voices, chorus and orchestra" will belong to the categories "Symphonies" and "Compositions for solo voices, chorus and orchestra"

If desired, even larger groupings can then be created from these building blocks, e.g.:

  • The category "Lieder" and category "Chansons" can both belong to the larger category "Art Songs".
  • The category "Trios for woodwind, strings and keyboard" can belong to the larger category "Chamber Music"
  • The category "Sacred cantatas" and category "Secular cantatas" can belong to the larger category "Cantatas"
  • The category "Sacred cantatas" and category "Masses" can belong to the larger category "Religious Music"
  • The category "Funeral marches" and category "Requiems" will belong to the larger category "Funeral music"

One 'master page' can be set up to include links to all the above categories, so that groups as broad as "Chamber Music" will appear alongside the more specific "Chansons for Voice and Piano", and users can search for as broad or as narrow a range as they want.

So Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, for example, could be reached by following any of these links:

  • "Compositions for solo voices, chorus and orchestra"
  • "Symphonies"
  • "Symphonies for solo voices, chorus and orchestra"


  • Users can immediately go to lists of the categories of pieces available, regardless of how specific or general these were, or whether they were based on instrumentation, type of work, or occasion.
  • Just changing the tag on a work page would automatically change the categories into which the work was classified, without the need to edit each category page.

Work Types

Many possible work types can be included in work tags, such as:

  • Arias
  • Ballets
  • Biographies
  • Concertos
  • Divertimentos
  • Fantasias
  • Folksongs
  • Hymns
  • Lieder
  • Liturgies
  • Madrigals
  • Marches
  • Masses
  • Mélodies
  • Motets
  • Musicals
  • Music analysis
  • Music criticism
  • Nocturnes
  • Nonets
  • Octets
  • Operas
  • Operettas
  • Oratorios
  • Overtures
  • Paraphrases
  • Pieces
  • Polonaises
  • Preludes
  • Requiems
  • Romances
  • Quartets
  • Quintets
  • Sacred cantatas
  • Sacred choruses
  • Secular cantatas
  • Secular choruses
  • Septets
  • Serenades
  • Sextets
  • Sonatas
  • Suites
  • Symphonic poems
  • Symphonies
  • Teaching methods
  • Trios
  • Vocalises
  • Waltzes


If a piece is scored for one, two or three instruments, then each of them should be identified, e.g.

  • oboe, cello and piano
  • horns and piano (NB: not "2 Horns and Piano")
  • soprano, tenor and keyboard

Descriptions of keyboard works can be more specific

  • organ solo
  • piano duet (4 hands)
  • 2 pianos (8 hands)

For groupings of four or more instruments then only their instrumental families are required:

  • strings
  • woodwind
  • brass
  • wind [for mixed brass and woodwind]
  • percussion
  • strings
  • orchestra
  • military band
  • chorus
  • voices
  • electronic instruments

No instrumentation is required for purely textural works, such as biographies and music critiques.

The above lists of tags should be taken as a starting point, and are likely to quickly expand and adapt as more and more works are scrutinized and classified. Volunteers will decide on the appropriate tag for each work, with a small number of co-ordinators overseeing the implementation of the system, and forum discussions to help iron out any teething troubles.


The proposals are that:

  • Each work will be given at least one "Tag" describing its musical type and instrumentation.
  • Categories will be created to display all works having the same tags.
  • These categories can be grouped together in different ways to create even wider categories.
  • There will be a single page through which users can access all the available categories.
  • All the tagging will be done by appointed volunteers (contact P. Davydov if you would like to help).


Comments on the above suggestions are welcome on this Forum thread, with a view to implementing the changes early in 2010 — P.davydov 17:33, 19 December 2009 (UTC)