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Achievement Unlocked!

March 15, 2010

I’ve finally linked Pavement members Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich to the Silver Jews releases on which they appeared. In doing so, I noticed a semantic detail that I hadn’t really paid attention to before. When linking artists to releases, you can choose from the following:

Here’s where granularity issues come into play for me. Let’s use my recurring example of Silver Jews. Cassie Berman, David Berman’s wife, wasn’t a band member from the beginning, but she was a band member on tour and on the later albums. I want to link her to the releases on which she played, but I’m not sure which of these options to select because of the way they display the relationship. That is, do I want it to read “Cassie Berman PERFORMED Tanglewood Numbers” or “Cassie Berman PERFORMED ON Tanglewood Numbers.” My suspicion is that PERFORMED is for tracks while PERFORMED ON is for albums, but I think PERFORMED ON could also be used to relate an artist to a track where s/he played a backing role.

And again, perhaps the answer is buried somewhere in the wisdom of the wiki.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Pavan Chander permalink
    March 15, 2010 10:02 pm

    The top level “performed” relationship type is supposed to be a generic relationship when you know that the artist performed on the entity but you don’t know what specific thing they did. The “performed {instrument} on” and “performed vocal on” on the other hand are more specific relationships (i.e. when you have that detailed data).

    However, just to make things more confusing the actual text that will show up on the release is quite different from what is shown in that select box. The resulting texts are actually quite consistent with each other, take a look: http://musicbrainz.org/release/1e2c0c9b-4a0f-41f1-b4d9-df0267b529f0.html

    If you scroll through the select you’ll see various places where there is this same indenting “generic/specific” structure. And actually, the ability to accurately enter just the data you have (no matter how detailed/undetailed) is a common theme across the entire MusicBrainz website, not just when entering in relationships.

  2. March 15, 2010 10:17 pm

    I thought it also allows you to select “performed {instrument} on” without specifying an instrument but I suppose the “has {instrument} performed by” syntax makes that impossible.

    Even though the text is consistent on both, I feel like the generic “was performed by” sounds odd. “has {instrument} performed by sounds better. Like I think my problem is with the phrase “was performed by” or “performed” without the “on.” “Was performed by” and “performed” just sounds like one person doing the performing. But I don’t have any suggestion of what might be syntactically less awkward.

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