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Explanatory Notes

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Explanatory notes


Original version produced 1972-73 Copy and additional material by Heather Lane 24.06.2002


1.  This radical revision is based closely upon the classification used in the British Catalogue of Music. We acknowledge gratefully our considerable debt to Mr E. J. Coates, Editor of the British Technology Index, who compiled the scheme whilst he was at the British National Bibliography, and to the BNB for permission to adapt its system.


We wish to thank also two colleagues at the Polytechnic of North London - Mr Brian Redfern, author of a number of books on music and music librarianship, and Mr Derek Langridge, author of Your Jazz Collection, whose classification of Afro-American music has been added, with some amendments, to the BCM scheme.


2. The greater part of the schedule concerns music in the European tradition, which occupies the whole of WV/WX except WWZ/Z and WXX/Z. The material in this file is divided into two separate but completely parallel classes - works about music and scores of music.


3. Works about music (WV/WW).

The citation order here is : Music literature

    1. Composer
    2. Instrument (including voice)
    3. Musical form (giving, e.g. Sonata, Fugue)
    4. Musical element (e.g. Tonality)
    5. Musical character (e.g. Military music, Dance music)
    6. Musical technique (e.g. Performing)
    7. Musical theory 


4. Works of music, Scores (WX)

The citation order here is: Music scores

    1. Instrument for which written  

               ii/vi as iii/vii of Music literature (and in the same order). 


In practice, Music technique and Music theory have virtually no place in scores except for the very occasional score designed to exemplify a concept from these two facets.


5. Filing order is designed to reflect an inverted schedule. i.e. the primary facet filing last, the second facet filing next to last, and so on. This is maintained with complete consistency in WX (scores), but in WV/WW, in order to minimise changes for libraries using the existing BC1 scheme, the primary facet (Composers) remains at WV9. This means that the general does not always follow  the special; e.g. a study of Beethoven's symphonies (WV9 BJ MM) will precede a study of symphonies in general (WVM M).


6. It follows from (5) above that compound classes (those involving more than one elementary concept) are in the vast majority of cases notated by building class numbers retroactively - i.e. the element appearing late in the schedule is cited first; e.g. WWB G is Performance (under Techniques of music) and WWF O is Opera (under Vocal music). A work on Operatic performance would be WWF OBG; that is to say, the letter(s) following the root (WW or WX as the case may be) are added straight on to the earlier-cited element, as 'BG' is added on to 'WWF O' in the above example. 


This can usually be done automatically without special instructions; e.g. at WWL Works about instrumental music, it does not say that all the earlier facets (Theory, Techniques, Character, etc.) may be added - this is simply assumed; so Instrumental music for films would be WWL CK (taking 'CK' for Film music from WWC K in the character facet). 


All exceptions to this basic pattern are stated and exemplified in the schedules.


7. European and non-European music


7.1 Most of the literature in BC libraries concerns music in the European tradition and a work on, say, musical form, will be treated as a general work on that subject, although it implicitly assumes the European tradition. For libraries wishing to make the distinction between 'general' in the true sense and 'general' in relation to the European tradition may use WV (i.e. WV 1/9, A/Z) for the former and WW only for European material strictly. In such cases the detail enumerated at WW may be added to WV - e.g. WVC R Religious music in general (dealing with European and non-European material).
The theoretically accurate schedule called for in a truly international classification of music would be, in outline:

WV 1/9     Music in general - common subdivisions

WV A/Z    Music in general - Theory, Techniques, Character, etc.

WWA/      European tradition

WWY       Afro-American tradition

WWZ       Non-European tradition

Whether scores are collocated with the system ('tradition') or kept together is essentially a matter of library policy here.


7.2 Alternatively, many libraries will prefer to continue to use the division of WW for truly general works and for 'general' works, which in fact assume or imply the European tradition. A major reason for this would be to avoid separating works on topics (e.g. Dance music) in the European tradition from works on the same topic dealing mainly but not entirely with the European tradition.


It is likely, however, that libraries using the alternative - i.e. using WW for all materials except specifically non-European ones (which would go at WWZ) will prefer to retain the common subdivisions and the Composer facet of Music literature at WV1/9, A/Z.


7.3 Since all material on a non-European system should be kept together, the class WWZ has been reserved for these systems and all subdivisions of them would be by normal retrospective number- building. However, existing BC1 provided the whole of VVA/VVZ* for local division and many BC libraries will prefer to retain non-European material there. In this case number-building is not retroactive but forward (e.g. WVQ E Indian music - Forms) and the general may follow the special (Musical form in general coming at WWE). It is assumed here that, for localities with music in the European tradition, place is cited after the musical concept - e.,g. Opera - in Germany WWF OAK.


7.4 Afro-American music is clearly separated from the music of the European tradition and located at WWY, for reasons explained there. Most of the literature in this field is on Jazz and some libraries will follow the practice described in Derek Langridge's classification in which Jazz is treated as the 'preferred category' and precedes the literature on Afro-American music in general and non-Jazz forms in particular. The alternative is allowed for (see note at WWX X).


7.5 Folk music and 'Art' music is a distinction some think sufficiently fundamental to warrant making a primary principle of division after system (i.e. European, non-European ... ). Therefore, an alternative is provided at WWK (for European folk music) and elsewhere (see notes at WWC D)
However, it is doubtful whether it is worth making the distinction under some 'national' system - e.g. in Indian music. If any BC users have definite views on this, please tell us.


* For reasons of notational space required by the Technology Class U-V, the original location of this class at VV-VX has been moved to WV-WX. For further alternatives in the approach to arrangement by place and period, please see the notes on the Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge amendments at the end of the schedule.

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