In MusicBrainz terminology, a work is a distinct intellectual or artistic creation, which can be expressed in the form of one or more audio recordings. While a work in MusicBrainz is usually musical in nature, it is not necessarily so. For example, a work could be a novel, play, poem or essay, later recorded as an oratory or audiobook.


A work’s distinctiveness is based on the artists who contributed to its final output, and whether a work is derived from another original work. Examples of works that are distinct:

  • a work that is written by an individual songwriter
  • a work that is the result of a collaboration between composer and lyricist
  • an instrumental work where an artist later adds lyrics
  • translation of an original work into a different language
  • a parody of an original work with differing lyrics
  • a medley of multiple original works
  • a mashup of multiple original works

Types of works

Works are represented predominantly at two levels:

Discrete works
An individual song, musical number or movement. This includes recitatives, arias, choruses, duos, trios, etc. In many cases, discrete works are a part of larger, aggregate works.

Aggregate works
An ordered sequence of one or more songs, numbers or movements, such as: symphony, opera, theatre work, concerto, and concept album. A popular music album is not considered a distinct aggregate work unless it is evident that such an album was written with intent to have a specifically ordered sequence of related songs (i.e. a “concept album”).

Disambiguity: The disambiguation comments are fields in the database used to help distinguish identically named artists, labels and other entities. They are visible in the pages for the entities, and also appear in the search results next to their names.

Type: Type is generally only useful for classical music. Most non-classical works will either be of the type Song or have no type at all.

ISWC: The International Standard Musical Work Code assigned to the work by copyright collecting agencies.

Lyrics Language is hopefully self-explanatory. If there are no lyrics select No linguistic content.

Key and tempo can be entered. If the fields are empty it might be filled from either the Score-module or the Recording module at a later time.

Release date can be entered or filled from the import of the MP3-file. (See about entering date & time under the specific menu)

Writers: A work can be associated with one or more composer, arranger, instrumentator, orchestrator, lyricist, librettist, translator and publisher.

Recordings: A work can be associated with one or more recordings. This provides the indirect association between a work and its performance and production artists.

Lyrics: Shows the first 5 lines of words. Dbl-click to open the Text Monitor/Editor.
Copyright: Who ever owns the rights for the words.

PDF-file: If there is a PDF-file (Words) it is shown here. The PDF-file can be created by pushing the Report button in the buttom of the form.

Scores: Numerous Scores can be related to a Work. It can be diffenrent styles, musical keys, instruments and so on.