ISKO UK - the UK Chapter of ISKO

International Society of Knowledge Organization

Promoting the theory and practice of organizing knowledge and information

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Faceted music: towards a model of music classification

The organization of music is a subject that has fascinated classification researchers and librarians alike for over a hundred years. This paper identifies five key methodological approaches undertaken by commentators on music knowledge organization, which demonstrate different interdependent relationships between musicology and classification.

Five significant themes form the main body of this paper, and these themes underpin the corpus of music classification literature. The first theme concerns the question of whether classification should divide music materials into their constituent formats. This division sets conceptual against practical. The second theme looks at facets in music classification. ‘Medium’ and ‘form’ are considered to be the most important facets for music scores; ‘composers’ are an important facet for music literature. The third theme considers the poor treatment of ‘other’ musics in knowledge organization, and notes some possible explanations. The fourth theme investigates the relationship between the classification and retrieval of music materials. This section highlights the differing needs of users and suggests how the classification of music materials is adapted accordingly. The fifth theme discusses pre-existing music classification schemes, with the large number of home-grown and special schemes highlighted.

The paper concludes that the five identified themes point towards a model of music classification. However, the model is not just concerned with facets, musics and formats; it is also based upon the relationships between various sets of protagonists, such as the librarian and the musicologist, the musicologist and the performer. Through studying these protagonists, the traditional boundaries of musicology, music librarianship and knowledge organization will be crossed.

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