Improving Record Revolution’s Taxonomy and Cataloging System
New Genre Terms
Members, RecordRev is getting organized! To improve the site’s taxonomy structure and its overall organization we have added a new Genre classification system to our cataloging form (if you’re a member, see the “Add New Album” tab). The terms in our new drop-down menu include common top-level musical styles such as Jazz, Hip Hop & Rap, and Classical. The addition of these new genre terms will ensure that our site maintains at least a basic taxonomy structure in place for all cataloged vinyl records. Our cataloging form will continue to feature the same free tagging system and you can utilize these two systems together to provide a highly structured yet flexible classification system for your digital record bins.
The site’s new genre terms are largely adopted from the sound-recording cataloging standard called the Alpha-Numeric System for Classification of Recordings (ANSCR—pronounced like the word “answer”). ANSCR, developed in the 1960s, is a standard for cataloging sound recordings, regardless of format. In addition to its many cataloging rules, ANSCR also identifies about 46 musical categories into which any sound recording can be classified.
Why Use ANSCR?
You might be wondering why we decided to use a classification scheme that was developed so long ago in the pre-Internet era. ANSCR, though an old standard, is still relevant in the Internet age. There are some library systems that still use a form of ANSCR to catalog their physical music collections, and it seemed like a natural fit for our Record Revolution site.
We have modified some of ANSCR’s categories since there are definitely some deficiencies in the classification scheme. For one, some of the categories are not necessary for our site: ANSCR outlines seven different categories for classifying children’s music: Children’s Recordings, Instructional, Holiday Music, Spoken, and so on. We did not include all these subdivisions since we want members to have the flexibility to apply additional terms using our free tagging system. Second, ANSCR is a little outdated. For instance, ANSCR uses only one category—Popular Music—to classify Jazz, Rock, Rhythm and Blues, Country/Western, Gospel, among others. Using one catch-all category to classify such distinct musical styles seems ridiculous and antiquated. And musical styles like Reggae and Hip Hop are not even represented in the original ANSCR classification scheme. So, here’s a list of the terms we ended up including on the website:
Country & Western
Gospel & Choir
Hip Hop & Rap
Rock & Pop
Sounds, Sound Effects, & Samples
Spoken Word, Poetry, & Interviews
TV, Radio, & Theater Productions
If you would like to learn more about ANSCR, here are some additional resources:
Cal State Los Angeles Library
Music Cataloging at Yale University Library
Saheb-Ettaba, Caroline and Roger B. McFarland. ANSCR: The alpha-numeric system for classification of recordings. Williamsport, Pa.: Bro-Dart Publishing Co., 1969.