[MEI-L] Header data for Corpus monodicum

Roland, Perry (pdr4h) pdr4h at eservices.virginia.edu
Mon Jan 7 23:14:40 CET 2013

Hi, Thomas,

> - Is it advisable to stick to "old" MEI when encoding information
> about the source, or shall I go forward and adopt the FRBR way?

There's no single, "correct" answer to this question.  It depends on the level of detail you want to capture and the complexity of the relationships you expect to find in the source materials.

The so-called "old" MEI will continue to work for bibliographic and physical description of source material.  The use of <source> will still provide the capability of capturing basic bibliographic data, such as creator, title, physical description, language usage, inscriptions, watermarks, and so on.  What you don't get with the former method is the ability to --

    - clearly express the fact that a manuscript has been broken into multiple pieces that are now housed in widely-separated locations (because using only <source> you can't formally separate the pieces of locational information from each other) and

    - group multiple sources (usually by score format or performance medium) into something FRBR calls an "expression".

I think you might want to start by supporting only <source> (and <work>, of course).  Adding <item>, <expression>, and the other elements that facilitate the markup of FRBR relationships, can come later.

> - How can we sensibly record all those different numbers and genre titles?

Again, it depends.  Here your choice depends on what you decide those numbers are describing.  Your own "number in the edition" identifier would be best encoded using either mei/@xml:id or mei/altId depending on whether the identifier conforms to the rules of XML names.

But, the "number in textual edition (there is a text-only edition that has differing numbers)" and the "catalog number (number that was established by other publications)" belong in work/identifier or source/identifier or item/identifier depending on what the numbers refer to.  If a catalog is work-based that's one thing, but if it's assigning identifiers to individual sources (more like an auction catalog), it's another.

For classification (by genre or other means), MEI offers the <classification> element.  Where the <classification> element occurs in the markup hierarchy depends on what's being classified.  The section and volume numbers may exemplify some kind of classification (I presume all the chants in a particular section or volume have something in common.) and therefore belong in <classification> described below.  Or they may be thought of as (non-unique?) identifiers and go into one or more additional mei/altID elements.  (To uniquely identify a chant based on its section and volume number, you could create a single, concatenated identifier.) Where you ultimately choose to put them depends on the material and the traditions of the scholars of the material.

> - Would it be useful--or is there any interest--to standardize how to
> record header data specific to liturgical music, considering the
> tremendous amount of sacred music in existence?

It's tempting to provide special markup for the description of liturgical music, but where does that line of thought end?  If liturgical music, then why not chamber music or any number of other genres, sub-genres, sub-sub-genres, ad infinitum?  I think it's better to provide a single, general mechanism that applies across a wide range of situations, which can be made specific through the use of specialized controlled vocabularies.  For example, liturgical music and chamber music can use the same general markup --

  <classCode authURI="path.to.ontology">The [Liturgical | Metal] Ontology</classCode>
    <term>Term 1</term>
    <term>Term 2</term>
    <!-- ... --->

where the <classCode> element names the controlled vocabulary (and its @authURI attribute points to its online version) and <term> contains the classifying term, such as "Feast of X" in the case of liturgical music or "Megadeath Shiny Black Minutiae Metal" for pop music.

I'm not sure what you mean by "element number" so I can't address that item at the moment.

One last piece of advice, if I may -- Please remember that there are professionals who are trained in the dirty details of these kinds of systems and decisions.  Kindly support your local librarian.  :-)

Hope this helps,


Perry Roland
Music Library
University of Virginia
P. O. Box 400175
Charlottesville, VA 22904
434-982-2702 (w)
pdr4h (at) virginia (dot) edu

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