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Classifying Terms


     Children's Christmas     Classical Chamber     BluesJazz
     Children's Classical     Classical Keyboard     ChristmasPop
     Children's Faith     Classical Opera     Country & BluegrassRap & Hip-Hop
     Children's Songs     Classical Orchestral     Dance & ElectronicRock
     Children's Soundtracks     Classical Sacred     FaithSound Effects
      Classical Strings     FolkSoundtracks
      Classical Winds     InstrumentalWorld
      Classical Vocal  



  • Use the following hierarchy when determining the classification for a musical recording that has characteristics of more than one category. The hierarchy is ordered vertically from top to bottom with categories on the same horizontal line considered equal. For example, Handel's Christmas oratorio Messiah would be classified under Classical Sacred (rather than Christmas), while the compilation Punk Rock Xmas would be under Christmas (rather than Rock).
    • Children's Soundtracks
    • Children's Classical
    • Children's Christmas
    • Children's Faith
    • Children's Songs
    • Soundtracks
    • Classical Opera
    • Classical Sacred
    • Classical Wind - Classical String - Classical Keyboard
    • Classical Vocal - Classical Orchestral - Classical Chamber
    • Christmas
    • Faith
    • Rap - Jazz - Blues - Country - Dance - Folk - Rock*
    • Pop
    • Instrumental
    • World
    • Sound Effects

*For recordings with characteristics of multiple contemporary popular styles, class by the predominant style whenever possible. If none can be readily ascertained, use the nearest possible category or, in extreme cases, use Pop.

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  • Music for children under the age of 13.

Children's Christmas (CD J Christmas)

  • Christmas songs and stories for children. Use for material which has Christmas seasonal appeal only.

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Children's Classical (CD J CLA)

  • All genres of Classical music intended to be listened to by children. If the intent is musical instruction, class as a Children’s nonfiction audiobook.

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Children's Faith (CD J FAITH)

  • Religious and spiritual music of all faiths intended for children. For religious Classical music for children, use Children's Classical.
  • Also add as an exception non-musical sound recordings of the Adventures in Odyssey radio programs. Effective April 30, 2018, all juvenile non-musical sound recordings are catalogued as audiobooks, alphabetically under the author's last name or main entry (CD J ABC).

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Children's Songs (CD J SONGS)

  • Music and songs that is intended to be listened to by children. Include here lullabies and multi-lingual music and music that does not fall into the other Children's categories.

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Children's Soundtracks (CD J SNDTRK)

  • Original soundtrack recordings from children's films, musicals, TV programs and video or computer games.
  • Also classify collections or excerpts of songs from various films as Children's Soundtracks. See Soundtracks.
  • All soundtracks from videos/films (e.g. Walt Disney) will be classified as J SNDTRK. Title must state overtly that it is a soundtrack.
  • Titles featuring characters from TV/Video/film not overtly called a soundtrack are classed in J SONGS.
  • Soundtracks from videos/films classified as DVD TEEN will be classified as adult in SNDTRK.
  • Collections of songs from soundtracks of juvenile videos are classed in J SNDTRK e.g. Disney greatest hits [sound recording], unless the songs have been compiled for a specific non-juvenile purpose, e.g. songs from juvenile Disney films arranged in a jazz style for adults [JAZZ], or, a collection of love songs [POP].

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  • Use the following Classical sub-categories for formally-composed music from the Western tradition featuring conventional orchestral instruments and/or formally-trained singers. The term “Classical” here refers to style and intent rather than time period. Therefore, the Classical sub-categories may be applied to music from the Middle Ages to the present, including Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern (including Avant-Garde), and Contemporary style periods.
  • For classical music intended for children, see Children’s Classical.
  • For classical music from non-Western traditions, see World.

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Classical Chamber (CD CLA CHAMB)

  • Use for instrumental music played by groups of 2 to 9 performers (generally with only one performer to a part). Use also for modern classical music consisting primarily or entirely of electronic sounds.
  • Use also for percussion solos and collections of solos for various instruments. For other instrumental solos (either unaccompanied or featuring a single performer with various accompaniments), use Classical Keyboard, Classical Strings, or Classical Winds.
  • For an ensemble of 10 or more instrumentalists at a time, class under Orchestral (CLA ORCHE).

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Classical Keyboard (CD CLA KEYBO)

  • Include here music written for a solo and/or featured keyboard instrument. Use for titles that prominently feature a single performer (as evidenced by typography, cover image, etc.) playing solo or with any variety of accompaniments (including orchestra) in which no single instrumentation predominates. (See example in Classical Winds.)
  • Use for keyboard instruments (e.g. piano, organ, harpsichord, accordion, celesta.)
  • Use also for piano (or other keyboard) duets (either 2 pianos or 2 performers on 1 piano.)
  • For titles consisting predominantly or entirely of keyboard concertos, use Classical Orchestral.
  • For marimba and other solo percussion instruments (previously classed here), use Classical Chamber.

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Classical Opera (CD CLA OPERA)

  • A staged drama performed by singers with instrumental accompaniment. Use for all types of opera, including (but not limited to) Grand Opera, Operetta, Zarzuela, Music Drama, etc. This may include works with substantial spoken dialogue as long as the predominant material is sung. Include compilations of opera highlights and excerpts.
  • For sung dramas without staging (oratorios, cantatas, etc.), use Classical Sacred when the subject matter is religious and Classical Vocal when it is secular.
  • For collections of purely-instrumental music from operas (e.g. Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes by Benjamin Britten), class by instrumentation (generally, this will be Classical Orchestral).

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Classical Orchestral (CD CLA ORCHE)

  • Include here music for large instrumental ensemble consisting of 10 or more performers. Possible genres include (but are not limited to) symphonies, concertos, tone poems, overtures, ballets, and orchestral suites.
  • Also include music for string orchestra, chamber orchestra, and (if intended for concert hall performance) band or large wind ensemble.
  • Use for compilations of various ensembles if no single instrumentation is predominant and orchestral music constitutes a significant part of the resource, as determined by the cataloguer. E.g.
  • Hallelujah Junction: a Nonesuch retrospective by John Adams, which includes chamber music, opera excerpts, choruses with orchestra, and electronic music in addition to orchestral works.
  • For popular band music (e.g. marches or patriotic music) as well as light instrumental music (easy listening, music with nature sounds, etc.), use Instrumental.

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Classical Sacred (CD CLA SACRE)

  • Include here formally-composed liturgical music and other vocal music based on religious texts. This includes genres such as masses, requiems, anthems, motets, hymns, oratorios, sacred cantatas, and Gregorian chant.

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Classical Strings (CD CLA STRIN)

  • Include here music written for an unaccompanied and/or featured string instrument. This includes bowed (e.g. violin, viola, cello, double bass) and plucked (e.g. guitar, harp, lute) string instruments. Use for titles that prominently feature a single performer (as evidenced by typography, cover image, etc.) unaccompanied or with any variety of accompaniments in which no single instrumentation predominates. See example in Classical Winds.
  • For ensembles of 2 to 9 string instruments and works for string soloist with accompaniment of 8 or fewer performers (e.g. violin and piano music), use Classical Chamber.
  • For titles consisting predominantly or entirely of string concertos, use Classical Orchestral.

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Classical Vocal (CD CLA VOCAL)

  • Include here secular, non-operatic music in which the human voice is prominently featured, including Lieder, madrigals, song cycles, concert arias, duets, etc., with or without instrumental accompaniment of any size. Use also for secular choral works and secular cantatas.
  • For symphonies with a prominent choral or solo vocal part (e.g. Mahler's 8th Symphony), use Orchestral.

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Classical Winds (CD CLA WIND)

  • Include here music written for an unaccompanied and/or featured wind instrument. This includes brass (horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, etc.) and woodwind instruments (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, recorder, etc.) Use for titles that prominently feature a single performer (as evidenced by typography, cover image, etc.) unaccompanied or with any variety of accompaniments in which no single instrumentation predominates, e.g.

Voyages [performed by] Pascal Gallois, bassoon.
Subject headings:
Bassoon music.
Choruses, Secular (Mixed voices) with bassoon.
Concertos (Bassoon with chamber orchestra)
Classed in CLA WIND because the bassoonist is the featured performer on the recording and the only instrument consistent between all selections.

  • For ensembles of 2 to 9 wind instruments and works for wind soloist with accompaniment of 8 or fewer performers (e.g. flute and piano music), use Classical Chamber.
  • For titles consisting predominantly or exclusively of wind concertos, use Classical Orchestral.

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Blues (CD BLUES)

  • Use for music closely tied to the African-American Blues tradition. Such music is usually characterized by syncopated rhythms and highly improvisatory, embellished vocal lines, closely related to jazz.
  • Include traditional Blues and all subgenres (e.g. Boogie-Woogie) as well as Soul, Funk, Zydeco, and classic Rhythm and Blues (original release date of 1970s or earlier).
  • For contemporary R&B (e.g. Boyz II Men, John Legend, Usher) use CD POP if the predominant vocal material is sung or CD RAP if it is rapped.
  • Artist examples: Etta James, Muddy Waters, Billie Holiday, Bonnie Raitt, Marvin Gaye, etc.

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Christmas (CD Christmas)

  • Christmas music for adults. Includes traditional and contemporary Christmas music and carols. Use for material which has Christmas seasonal appeal only. Includes all languages.

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Country & Bluegrass (CD COUNT)

  • Use for commercially-recorded Country and Bluegrass music from the 1940s to the present day. Include all subgenres, such as Honky-Tonk, Western Swing, Alternative Country, and Progressive Bluegrass. For related music from earlier traditions, such as Western, Old-time music, and Appalachian music, use Folk.
  • Artist examples: Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Tim McGraw, Trisha Yearwood, Nickel Creek, Earl Scruggs, etc.

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Dance & Electronic (CD DANCE)

  • Use for contemporary club dance music and closely-related styles. This includes disco, pop dance mixes, and all forms of Electronic Dance Music such as House, Trance, Techno, UK and US Garage, etc. Use also for DJ compilations.
  • Use also for other forms of electronic popular music such as Industrial and Electronica.
  • Artist examples: The Chemical Brothers, Air, David Guetta, Deadmau5, Tiesto, Bjork, Daft Punk, Aphex Twin, etc.
  • For modern classical music consisting of electronically-generated sounds (e.g. Varese's Poème électronique), use Classical Chamber. For ambient electronic music, use Instrumental.
  • For traditional dance music, use Folk (for Anglo-American music) or World (for all other traditions).

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Faith (CD FAITH)

  • Include here non-classical styles of faith-based music from all Christian and non-Christian religions.
  • Styles include Gospel music, Christian rock, Christian rap, popular hymns, spirituals, Buddhist chants, Synagogue music, etc.

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Folk (CD FOLK)

  • Used specifically for contemporary Anglo-American folk music (e.g. Political Folk, Alternative Folk, protest songs, etc.) and closely-related traditional styles from which it evolved (e.g. Celtic Music, Ballads, Old-Time Music, etc.) Such music is characterized by acoustic string instruments (e.g. acoustic guitar, mandolin, fiddle) and a plain, unembellished vocal style. Use for instrumental music as well as vocal music.
  • This category refers to a specific style of music and, as such, may be applied to all music in this style regardless of language or cultural or geographic origin. For instance, most French-language Canadian Folk musicians are classed here.
  • For folk and traditional music in other styles, use World.
  • Artist examples: Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Mumford and Sons, The Kingston Trio, The Dubliners, etc.

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Instrumental (CD INSTR)

  • Use for non-classical instrumental music that does not fit readily into one of the other contemporary popular categories (e.g. Country, Rock, etc., as per the Hierarchy). Include easy listening as well as festive and ceremonial music (Marches, Pipe Bands). May be used for ambient and New Age music even when minimal vocals are present, e.g.

Life by Stephan Micus, which consists of ambient music with chants and drone-like vocals.

  • Also include here classical music with nature sounds and classical music arranged in popular styles.
  • Artist examples: Yanni
  • For band music intended for concert hall settings (e.g. overtures, tone poems, or symphonies for band), use Classical Orchestral.

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Jazz (CD JAZZ)

  • Vocal and/or instrumental music with foundations in Blues and European classical music, characterized by highly syncopated rhythms and melodic improvisation. Styles of Jazz include: Ragtime, Swing, Cool Jazz, Avant-garde Jazz, Bebop, etc. Also include international styles such as Latin jazz, Afro-Cuban jazz, and Bossa nova.
  • Artist examples: Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong, etc.

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Pop (CD POP)

  • A broad category for commercially-recorded music with mass appeal. This category covers a number of musical styles and often features catchy mid-range melodies combined with simple rhythms and straightforward lyrics.
  • Include here Pop music from various time periods, e.g.

Brother, Can You Spare A Dime? American Song During the Great Depression, featuring popular music in the United States, around 1931-1940, by Bing Crosby, Woodie Guthrie, Glenn Miller and His Orchestra, etc. -- CD POP BRO

  • Also use for popular sound recordings when none of the other categories are appropriate or (only in especially ambiguous cases) when a wide variety of popular styles are present and no predominant style can be ascertained, e.g.

"Weird Al" Yankovic creates parodies of songs in different styles, including pop, rock, rap, and polka -- CD POP YAN

  • Also use for:
    • Classic/Traditional Pop (e.g. Irving Berlin, Frank Sinatra, etc.)
    • Adult Contemporary
    • Operatic Pop and Classical Crossover
    • Contemporary R&B (see Blues), and
    • Latin Pop.
  • Artist examples: Sarah Brightman, Celine Dion, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Shakira, Justin Timberlake, Usher, etc.
  • Note: This category is not to be confused with "Popular music," a broader term encompassing all types of non-classical music. Since the LC Subject Heading "Popular music" is often used in this broader sense, its presence in a derived record does not justify assigning the CD POP classification in itself. Please check a reputable source to ensure that the subject headings in an existing record are adequate.

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Rap & Hip-Hop (CD RAP)

  • Rap music features vocals that emphasize rhythmic, rhymed speech rather than melody. Styles include: Gangsta Rap, Old School, G Funk, Reggaetón, etc.
  • Artist examples: Beastie Boys, Salt-N-Peppa, Jay-Z, 2Pac, Lil’ Kim, Eminem, etc.

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Rock (CD ROCK)

  • Music characterized by a heavy drum style and riff-based guitar playing. Includes the following styles: Acid Rock, Alternative, Indie,  Heavy Metal, Punk, New Wave, Hard Rock, Progressive Rock, Soft Rock, etc.
  • Artist examples: Janis Joplin, Pearl Jam, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, etc.

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Sound Effects (CD SOU EFFEC)

  • Non-musical sound recordings of ambient noises (e.g. nature sounds for relaxation) as well as collections of sound effects (e.g. for use in movies, video games, etc.)
  • For music with nature sounds, use Instrumental.

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Soundtracks (CD SNDTRK)

  • Use for compilations of music written for and/or featured in TV shows, feature films, video games, musicals, theatre, etc.
  • This includes original songs and compositions that were written for the film, as well as existing works that were featured in the film, e.g. John Lennon's Well Well Well (1970), featured in The Departed (2006) and on the film's soundtrack.
  • Also include here collections or excerpts of songs and scores from various films, e.g.

Disney/Pixar Greatest, which includes original music featured in Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Cars, etc. -- CD J SNDTRK DIS

  • This also applies to compilations of various soundtracks by a single composer or performer, as long as the predominant material is the original material used in the films, e.g.

Rediscovering Lost Scores by Wendy Carlos, which includes transfers of the original master tapes to this composer's scores to The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, etc. -- CD SNDTRK CAR

  • Also include here soundtracks and excerpts from various East Indian and Bollywood films, e.g.

The Rough Guide to Psychedelic Bollywood, which includes music featured in various films, including: Kati Patang, Bairaag, etc. -- CD SNDTRK ROU

  • For all soundtracks to film and multimedia works (i.e. excluding stage productions such as musicals), do not include music that did not appear in the original film(s). This pertains to music inspired by a film or covers of original music from films. In such cases, titles should be classified based on the style of the music, e.g.

Il Divo's A Musical Affair: The Greatest Songs From the World's Favorite Musicals, featuring a cover of Can You Feel the Love Tonight from Disney's The Lion King, composed by Elton John -- CD POP DIV

Similarly, Citizen Kane: The Great Film Scores of Bernard Herrmann includes excerpts Herrmann's original scores re-recorded by the National Philharmonic Orchestra. Because it is a re-recording and not from the original soundtracks, this title would be placed in Classical Orchestral -- CD CLA ORCHE HER

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World (CD WORLD)

  • Include here all traditional folk music from throughout the world except for contemporary Anglo-American folk music and closely-related styles (see the definition of Folk for more information.)
  • When deciding whether a title should be classed in World or another category, musical style (rather than cultural origin) should be the determining factor. For example, traditional North American Aboriginal powwow music would be classed in World, while New Age music for Aboriginal flute would be classed in Instrumental and hip-hop by Aboriginal artists would be classed in Rap/Hip-hop. (For further instructions on the classification of such music, see North American Aboriginal Music in the Non-Classical Sound Recordings section of the manual.)
  • Although geographic origin is not relevant in determining a title's classification, it should be included in subject headings whenever possible, e.g.

    650 Reggae music | z Canada

  • Use for contemporary world fusion and worldbeat music only if no predominant contemporary style (e.g. Pop, Rock, etc.) can be readily ascertained from the Hierarchy above, e.g.

Folila by Amadou & Mariam includes West African folk music mixed with  various styles of contemporary popular music (rock, pop, etc.). Because no single predominant style from higher in the hierarchy can be readily identified, this is classed in World -- CD WORLD AMA

However, Latin Pop is classified in Pop and Reggaeton (fusion of Reggae and Hip-hop) is classed in Rap -- in these cases, a single category from higher in the hierarchy can be readily identified.

  • Style and genre examples: Ragas, traditional Chinese opera, Tuvan throat singing, Klezmer music, Flamenco, etc. Use also for traditional Latin dances, Caribbean popular styles such as Reggae and Calypso, and African Highlife music.
  • Include national anthems and patriotic music (regardless of geographic origin) if no other style from higher in the hierarchy can be readily ascertained.

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