Genre categories. Your views wanted!

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Genre categories. Your views wanted!

Postby Davydov » Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:14 am

The heading really says it all. We're looking at ways of improving the descriptions of "genre" used for each work on IMSLP.

The current genre categories and sub-categories can be found here http://imslp.org/wiki/Browse_by_genre, but it's been pointed out that, for example, the terms "Sonata" and "Motet" can mean completely different things depending on the date, composer, etc., and this awkward combination of styles and instrumentation can be confusing. And there are a large number of pieces which don't clearly fit in any particular category.

So we really need to know what people want from the 'genre' categories. Would it help to group together all works that could be classed as "Symphonies", or "Motets", or "Suites"? Or do you go looking for pieces written for particular instrumental combinations, so that genres for, say, wind octet, for trombone and orchestra, for piano 4 hands, etc. would be more useful? Or something else entirely?

Over to you... :)
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Re: Genre categories. Your views wanted!

Postby Lyle Neff » Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:33 am

How about these two?:

    Motet (Medieval)
    Motet (Renaissance and later)
the main distinctions being that the former is polytextual and barely religious (at best), and the latter is monotextual and definitely intended for religious use.
"A libretto, a libretto, my kingdom for a libretto!" -- Cesar Cui (letter to Stasov, Feb. 20, 1877)
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Re: Genre categories. Your views wanted!

Postby steltz » Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:12 pm

On my list (which I was going to attach to my user page, but couldn't figure out how), I had:

Motet (secular)
Motet (sacred)

Does this help?
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Re: Genre categories. Your views wanted!

Postby imslp » Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:25 pm

Just a note that I think what Davydov means is not necessarily a specific change. IMSLP is considering completely reworking the current categorization system, and would like input on any aspect of it, for example:

* Is it a good idea to separate instrumentation from form (eg. Symphony = Orchestra + Sonata form)? Or perhaps instrumentation and general genre (Symphony = Orchestra + Symphony)?
* What level of detail should the categorization be? Bonus points if you have a system that you are willing to share.
* Any other ideas and thoughts.
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Re: Genre categories. Your views wanted!

Postby KGill » Fri Jul 31, 2009 12:23 am

My personal thought: There should be two places for instrumentation- one a generic classification (e.g. Quintet) that would be searchable, and the other the current Instrumentation box where the exact instrumentation is listed (currently not really directly searchable). The Genre would then be restricted to forms- 'forms' not necessarily meaning 'sonata form', A-B-A, strophic, etc. A sample:
Instrumental
Chamber
    Sonata
    Sonatina
    Miniature
    Set of Miniatures (Suite?)
    Freeform (or something)
    ...
    Chamber Symphony
    Suite for Chamber Orchestra?
    Concertino (meaning a small concerto?)
    Serenade?
Orchestral (if we had to draw a line, I'd say anything with triple winds/full brass and strings- therefore, Shostakovich's 1st Violin Concerto would qualify as having a full orchestra, since it has triple woodwinds, 4 horns, a tuba, timp/xy, 2 harps, and medium strings, but R. Strauss's Intermezzo would qualify as a chamber opera)
    Symphony (Large)
    Sinfonietta?
    Tone Poem
    Concerto
    Concerto Grosso (really a separate form in its own right)
    ...
Vocal
Operatic
    Grand Opera (incl. buffa/seria/etc.) (would Monteverdi fit here?)
    Musical (?)
    Oratorio- or under Sacred?
    Chamber Opera
    Operetta?
    Children's Opera
Songs
Choral (secular)
    any types?
Choral (sacred)
    Hymn
    Etc.
Dance Music- unless we just lump these under 'Miniatures' or whatever?
    Waltz
    Schottische
    Etc.
Books
    Orchestration Guides
    Analyses?
    Histories? (dunno)
Well, it has some problems...a lot of problems, actually...but I did it pretty much off the top of my head...and I'll post it anyway, just to take up space :)
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Re: Genre categories. Your views wanted!

Postby KGill » Fri Jul 31, 2009 12:25 am

Oh, and a more general kind of thing: I really think it would be great if everything were cross-searchable, but I realize that it would be an enormous amount of work (at least to reclassify everything)...
Like, for instance, some kind of 'advanced search' where you could have a box for generic and specific instrumentation, as well as genre, and have AND/OR options. Hypothetically.
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Re: Genre categories. Your views wanted!

Postby steltz » Fri Jul 31, 2009 6:21 am

I like the idea of this, but it occurs to me that because of the subheadings, we either need to put two genres on one line, or have two genre boxes, one for the large heading (orchestral, vocal, choral, books, etc.), and one for the subheading.

An example would look like:

Choral -- cantata (secular) (i.e. on one line, one field)
vs.
Choral
cantata (secular) (i.e. on a separate line in a separate field)

KGill, I will do some work on this at the weekend, and merge your list with mine and post it here. But it strikes me that this system solves the problem of terminology like "Sonata", because you could have "Chamber -- Sonata" as opposed to "Single Instrumental Piece -- Sonata".

In the meantime, under the choral (secular), you ask about types. There are secular cantatas, but I don't know how many involve a choir, and how many are just a soloist or three. Immediately springing to mind is Bach's Coffee Cantata, but I don't know how many voices it involves.

It's quicker just to post here, because people who can think of them off the top of their head will reply. So -- any secular choral works under the heading "Cantata"? (Or any other headings you guys can think of?)

By the way, when Davydov asks what people want from the genre categories, I would say that I want to be able to see exactly what kind of piece an item is, and a good idea of numbers of people, and instrumentation. That way I know instantly whether I want to download it so I don't waste time and effort downloading pieces that aren't suitable for me.

For instance, my specialty areas are woodwind and chamber music, because I run those two departments in a university. So I need to know if a Sonata is for unaccompanied zither, and then I won't bother with it.

We have singers that do chamber music, so it is important to me to know whether a vocal work includes choir, because then it's outside the parameters of what the singer needs it for.

Etc. Etc.
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What is "chamber music"

Postby Notenschreiber » Mon Aug 03, 2009 3:14 pm

In the category "Instrumental(Chamber)" there is a restriction to maximal 8 performers,
but there are a lot of famous compositions involving more than 8 players, for example
Mozarts Gran Partita or the Serenades for winds of Dvorak or Strauss, which have to
be considered as chamber music. I think, one should change here something.
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Re: What is "chamber music"

Postby Notenschreiber » Mon Aug 03, 2009 4:01 pm

That´s right. Perhaps one can move my contribution. But more important is,
if something can be changed in the definition of the category concerning
chamber music. This must be done by admins, I think, therefore I have chosen
this forum
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Re: What is "chamber music"

Postby steltz » Mon Aug 03, 2009 6:07 pm

This hasn't been moved to "other" yet, so I'll put my 2 cents in here.

It is going to be difficult to come to a consensus on exact numbers. When I was working full time in an orchestra, our contracts stipulated that we only got paid extra for "chamber music" at less than something like 8 or 9. I can't remember exactly now, but I remember we kicked up a big fuss over not being paid extra for the Gran Partita, but we didn't get anywhere. Managements will always want the number smaller, and performers will always want the number larger.

As far as IMSLP goes, I do believe that at 9 or 10, there is a label -- nonet or decet (sometimes modernized to "tentet"), so that terminology should be used.

At the moment, there is nothing larger than 8 performers in the chamber music page, and the gap between that and "symphonic", is covered by "other orchestrations (no less than 9) on the Instrumental (other) page. This is quite a gap.

I think the problem is that the "Instrumental (other)" page implies larger works because most of the things in there are symphony-based, or wind-section (i.e. Band), or string-section (e.g. a chamber orchestra). I don't think nonets and decets belong on this page, and I'm not sure about the elevenses and twelves either (don't know what to call those).

I also think the page with the symphonies needs to have a "chamber orchestra" category, for things like the Schreker Kammersymphonie that was recently added. At 23, this is very small, and on top of that, the strings are "one on a part" which is not normal for a symphonic piece.

While on this subject, can I ask what might be a silly question, & obvious to some, but I don't get it. Why do percussion duos go on this page rather than in chamber music? The top of the "Instrumental (other)" page stipulates "This genre also includes all purely percussion works regardless of the number of performers".

I realize that, historically, there was no percussion in the chamber music the Baroque, Classical, or Romantic periods, but 2 is still 2, and that's still small, fits in a "chamber" room or hall, and doesn't need a conductor. Looks like a duo, quacks like a duo, must be a duo . . . . . . :lol:
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Re: Genre categories. Your views wanted!

Postby perlnerd666 » Mon Aug 03, 2009 6:16 pm

I actually think that Serenade, etc. should be some sort of category (or "Chamber Orchestra")
The Gran Partita is a bridge piece that isn't exactly chamber music (after all, have you ever tried fitting that many instruments into a "bedroom?" ;). However, the current system is inadequate.

Oh, and I obviously merged it.
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Re: Genre categories. Your views wanted!

Postby scottorr » Mon Aug 03, 2009 8:03 pm

Perhaps it would be smart, no matter what general form and specifics are decided upon to have these categories link to a page with information on each. Seeing as the wiki page automatically includes the links to the genres at the bottom of the page, having the genre name in the information 'box' could work.

This would also work well if you were trying to keep the number of genres down. I'll use an example from someone above regarding motets.

If there was one broad category of motets, then it wouldn't be very specific. However, right below the genre field is a 'piece style' field. If I know the motet's era, then there's no need to have a specific genre for a 'Medieval Motet'. If I don't know what the difference is between one from the Medieval period and the Renaissance, then I can go the Motet information page which would specify.
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Re: What is "chamber music"

Postby KGill » Tue Aug 04, 2009 1:59 am

steltz wrote:It is going to be difficult to come to a consensus on exact numbers.

That is extremely, painfully true- which is why you might notice that in my suggestion, I left 'chamber' deliberately vague. Seriously, I don't think we can put, say, Shostakovich's 14th Symphony in with the others- 2 solo voices, a few percussion instruments, and small strings (something like 19)? This is a chamber symphony-cum-song cycle. Or what about Stravinsky's Suites for Small Orchestra? Are those really 'orchestral' the way Mahler's symphonies are 'orchestral'? Or a whole lot of other pieces by Stravinsky, Villa-Lobos (orchestra of celli?), and many others.
So I guess I should sort of revise my previous statement to this: We should IMO use VERY generic/vague instrumentation to help navigate the Genres (meaning, chamber/orchestral/dramatic/whatever), but the actual 'title' of the genre should be specific in itself- e.g. 'Chamber Symphony' (a smattering of winds and brass) as opposed to 'Large Symphony' (one that is not just 'symphonic' but includes a pretty good number of winds, brass, maybe percussion/keyboards/other, and full strings). Also, my feeling is that there should in addition be a separate searchable/linked Instrumentation classification which goes into more detail with quartet/quintet/etc., plus the current thing with user-specified completely (hopefully) exact instrumentation (like listing everything that goes into an orchestra).
I also like very much the idea about specifying (or estimating) the number of performers- that would be great.
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Re: Genre categories. Your views wanted!

Postby steltz » Tue Aug 04, 2009 6:27 am

Opinions, please -- the Bachianas Brasilieras no.5 that was recently uploaded has been listed as choral, which it isn't, but when I tried to find something that fit better, I couldn't really see anything that suitable.

It could be 'Other (secular-solo)', but the other listings in that column include 'with accompaniment', which this probably should be, but there isn't such a category for secular solo.

Otherwise, it is an aria of sorts . . .?

I've left the original for now.
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Re: Genre categories. Your views wanted!

Postby Lyle Neff » Tue Aug 04, 2009 11:06 am

"Chamber" vs. "non-chamber" music has to do with performance medium, not with genre -- although it should be pointed out that certain genres belong characteristically to one or the other.
"A libretto, a libretto, my kingdom for a libretto!" -- Cesar Cui (letter to Stasov, Feb. 20, 1877)
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