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Philip Tagg’s Musicalia Database

 Info Information

About the database

Using the data


Top About the database

The data consists of 17,209 AUthor entries (composers, authors, artists, etc.) linked to 56,461 TItles (songs, tracks, theme tunes, underscore, adverts, etc.) in 5040 SOurce items (collections, compilations, albums, etc.).

Apart from AUthors and the TItles of both individual items and the SOurce items in/on which they appear, the database includes such details as the year of original issue (or of composition or first performance), publishing company (record label, film production company, TV or radio channel, sheet music publisher, etc.), catalogue number or ISBN, as well as the physical source of the music (single, EP, LP, CD, cassette, VHS, DVD, off-air recording, sheet music, pocket score, song book, etc.).

The data covers many different types of music. There is a preponderance of popular music references (popular songs and dances, pop, rock, ‘folk’, film and TV music, etc.). A fair amount of euroclassical music is also covered, as are hundreds of ‘world’ and ´traditional’ music recordings.

I started input in 1984 and continued to enter data regularly until around 2006, since when I’ve relied increasingly on online sources of information. Its primary aim was to help me quickly locate recorded music for teaching and research purposes. One central problem was that my sort of music analysis requires rapid access to a body of music so vast that I could never afford to own it all on either commercially available carriers, or, latterly, as paid-for downloads. Nor did the institutions I worked for own, nor could they reasonably be expected to commercially acquire, so many recordings. That’s why a large number of items referred to in the database had to be recorded on to (in historical order) tape, cassette, videocassette, writeable CDs and DVDs, and finally, when home computer disk space media became large enough, on to hard drive. Cataloguing all those recordings was essential so that they could be retrieved and heard as quickly as possible, for example, in preparation for music history or analysis classes.

With the scholarly imperative of thorough source referencing, I tried to ensure (not always successfully) that publishing details for each recording were included in the database. That enabled me to generate reference appendices for books and articles. I still use the database for that purpose.

In short, the database was started in the early days of home computing long before the advent of MP3s, iPods and smartphones with their audio- or video-file meta-data, and long before the appearance of online music databases like Beyond its use to me personally as a means of locating recordings or sheet music in my own possession, it is of use to anyone needing to produce correct references to music and unable to find the requisite source details elsewhere.

Top Why online?

With the advent of MP3 meta-data, online discographies, etc., there is clearly less use for this sort of musicalia database than there used to be. However, even an excellent online discography database like (I use it ‘all the time’) has its problems. One reason is that it’s geared towards the record collector rather than the scholar. That means it can be difficult, if not impossible, to find reference to an original recording of a pop song when no subscriber to the service is currently offering that item for sale. My database certainly has its weaknesses (see Limitations) but I always tried to include the original year of recording or composition, or its first performance.

Moreover, this database includes reference to material not covered in other online databases, for example, music from a wide range of non-Anglo cultures, as well as from TV and radio shows, from films, etc . It is in no way a replacement for existing online databases but it is, I believe, a useful complement. Another advantage is that it’s also much easier to cut from this database and paste requisite source details into a reference appendix or footnote than from other online offerings.

Another, more prosaic, reason for putting this all on line is that the software I’ve used to create the database is very old and has become increasingly incompatible with each system change I’m expected to appreciate (and pay for) in terms of an ‘upgrade’ rather than as an unwelcome imposition. I need to retrieve data on operating systems that don’t let me run my old database software (FoxPro v.2). Hence all this data in a single HTML file that anyone can access anywhere.

Top How it basically works

    Go to   ● ‘Main (Source) Listing   ● AU(thor) Listing

The data is presented as a single large HTML file (c. 11 MB). That means it’s not an actual database but a set of two listings consisting of material gathered from the original database’s five related tables (7.6 MB + HTML commands). The two listings are by:

  1. Names, in alphabetical order, of physical SOurces of the music, from 10 cc via Abbey Road, Dhrupads, The Mission, San Remo and String Quartet to Zydeco. This is the primary listing containing all data. It is referred to as the Main Listing or the SOurce Listing.
  2. Names, in alphabetical order, of those involved in the production of the music (AUthors), from Abba via Bach, Beatles, Chaplin, Chile (trad.), Dekker, Ellington, ... Morricone and Mozart ... to XTC, Yothu Yindi and Z Z Top. This is called the AU(thor) Listing.

Top Main (SOurce) Listing

By SOurce item is meant the physical object containing the music as sound or notation, i.e. vinyl record (single, EP, LP), (audio-) casette, CD, DVD, videocassette (VHS), video CD, DAT tape, MiniDisc, DVD; pocket score, song book, sheet music, etc. The carrier type is presented in square brackets as the last data item relevant to the entire source object, e.g. ‘[LP author]’ as in the following entry:

Gisela May [v]: Gisela May sjunger Brecht. Caprice RIKS LP 30 (1974?). Hanns Eisler [m];  Bert Brecht [w]. All titles Eisler xwos. [LP author]

- 10757 is the unique identity number for this SOurce entry.
- Gisela May is the main artist on this album. [v] is short for vocals (see abbreviations)
- Gisela May sjunger Brecht is the name of the album (‘sjunger’ = sings) and determines where it’s   placed alphabetically —between Girls Just Want To Have Fun and Giù la testa!
   Names of SOurce items are bolded.
- Caprice is the record label and RIKS LP 30 the record’s catalogue number.
- It was issued in 1974 (I think: hence the ‘?’)
- Brecht wrote the words [w] and Eisler the music [m] ‘xwos’, i.e. eXcept Where Otherwise Stated) .
- The music was on an LP (vinyl) album previously shelved chez Tagg in alphabetical order of main AUthor (see Carrier types ).

The SOurce object’s constituent items —its TItles (individual tracks, songs, chapters, sections, etc. in the larger entity)— appear in a bulleted list below the SOurce data, e.g. (extracts):

The music [m] for Kleines Lied, track 4 on the A side (a4), is by Paul Dessau while tracks 4 and 5 on the B side (b4, b5) are by Eisler (the ‘xwos’ of 8 lines up). Additional TItle data, like the fact that songs b4 and b5 are two of Eisler’s 4 ’Proletarian Mother’s Lullabies’ is presented in square brackets. Track durations, where available and/or relevant, are also added between square brackets.

Single-title SOurce objects appear as follows, for example:

A World Without Love. Columbia DB 7225 (UK) (1964). [Single S009]

This tune, issued on a Columbia single in 1964, was recorded by Peter and Gordon [b=band/group/ensemble] with words and music [w,m] by Lennon and McCartney. Its duration is 2 mins and 38 seconds [2:38].

Top AUthor (AU) Listing

An AUthor is any individual or any group of individuals involved in the production of the listed item. It might be whoever wrote the music [m], or who performed it as a vocalist [v], band [b] or instrumentalist [i], or recorded [rec] or produced it [prod], or, if a film, its director [dir] or its main actors [act], etc. A list of AUthor function abbreviations is provided here.

This AUthor listing is extremely basic and exists for the sole purpose of quickly finding AUthor names and linking them to details of music with which they’re associated. For example:

Morricone, Ennio Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra
Morricone, Ennio: Indagine su un cittadino... Police Movies

The bolded titles in italics are hyperlinks to entire SOurce items with which Morricone is associated, the unbolded ones to single TItles in a SOurce item. For example, clicking the first Indagine su un citadino in the Morricone listing brings up details of the soundtrack for the 1970 film Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, which I audiotaped from French TV in 1977 and for whose music Morricone was solely responsible. Clicking the second entry brings up the single title “Indagine” as just one track on the 1981 Italian compilation album Police Movies, which also includes tracks by other composers.

Three important tips [1] AUthors like Abba, J S Bach, The Beatles and Morricone have many entries in the AU listing. It’s advisable to check through all those entries to discover the most relevant source for you. For example, there are, under Morricone, 2 references to Indagine (complete SOurce item) and 2 to Indagine (TItle/track). The second Indagine links to data about the published DVD of the film Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto (potentially useful information). The second Indagine link is merely to a home compilation of detective themes I used in teaching (useful for me but not for others!).

[2] Not every single title by every single AUthor appears in the AUthor listing. For example, Rocky Racoon (Beatles 1968) is not listed under The Beatles because it appears on The White Album and because The Beatles are associated with all tracks on that album. You either need to know that and click on The White Album or else go to the top of the main listing and enter Rocky Racoon (and click Next a few times). Either way you’ll arrive at data for the White Album and be able to see it’s on the B side of the first of the two discs, issued as a double album in 1968 on Apple PCS 7068.

[3] Clicking a title link (unbolded) in the AU listing displays that title as the top line on your monitor. You’ll almost certainly need to scroll up to see the SOurce details for that title.

Top Data searches

Searching by AUthor input

Please read Author Listing (above) for tips and further information.

To search from any input of any type


Top Carrier types and location data

Carrier types

The carrier type is presented in square brackets as the last data item relevant to the entire SOurce object. The following types refer to the original carrier for the music:

The following carrier types are of interest solely to myself because they contain home recordings. They’re typically compilations for teaching or research purposes and can generally be ignored by other users of this database: [Cassette ...], [CD] (without preceding publishing data), [Compendium ...], [DAT ...], [Ex libr] or [XL], [MiniDisc ...], [MP3 files] [Reel tape], [VHS + number].

Top Location in/on SOurce object

The location of individual TItles (tracks, songs, DVD chapters, etc.) are given after the bullet (●) at the start of each TItle entry. Many location data types can be ignored (e.g. counter positions on cassettes, track numbers on DATs or MiniDiscs) but the following can be useful. For example:

● 14|0:39:21 The Algerian Lavatory [5:10]

means that chapter 14 on this DVD starts at 39' 21" into the film (SO entry #14494, ‘Patton. 20th Century Fox 171m. NTSC DVD C20 Fox (2000) Cat# 2002635 (1970)... [DVD title]’).

It’s also worth knowing that simple numbers like ‘● 01’ can indicate: [1] track numbers on CDs or MiniDiscs; [2] start numbers on DAT tapes; [3] chapter numbers on DVDs; [4] page numbers in song collections. It’s always clear from the SOurce object carrier type ([CD], [DVD], etc.) which of those four is relevant.

Top Navigation

At any time, clicking

When browsing you can skip directly to items starting with any letter of the alphabet by clicking the relevant letter. You can then skip directly to any of the entries shown under each letter of the alphabet. For example, clicking ‘R’ at the top of the AU listing then lets you choose if you want to go to Rachmaninov, Raksin, Ravel, [Otis] Redding, [Cliff] Richard, Ritchie, Roberts, Rodgers, Rolling [Stones], Rota, Rózsa or Russel. From there you can scroll through the material.

Top” or “ArrowUpGn” appears quite frequently (typically 3 hits of the PgUp or PgDn button on a computer keyboard). Clicking the green arrow lets you immediately re-orientate yourself in this huge file.

Top Abbreviations

Author function abbreviations are placed in square brackets after the relevant name.


Carrier types and locations (link)

Top Limitations, anomalies, errors and conditions

As explained above, the data was produced and arranged for my personal use. It’s on line because I think it can be of use to others, despite its limitations, anomalies and errors. Here are the main issues.

Top Conditions

Anyone can use this material for personal and/or non-profit aims provided that:

Huddersfield (UK), 2013-10-28; upd. 2017-06-09, Liverpool 2018-08-18; upd. 2021-08-21, 2021-12-10.

Philip Tagg