Quoting songs in Zotero

I am writing on French adaptations of Bob Dylan's songs and I need to quote a LOT of musical work. I would like to know if there is any way to add songs to Zotero (like the equivalent of an ISBN) so as to retrieve the metadata and then cite it / put it in the Works Cited section automatically
  • I would like to add that, apart from adding songs automatically with a sort of ISBN, I cannot even create songs because it's not part of the "item types" given. MLA, for example, requires the song to be between quotation marks, the title of the album to be in italics...

    Does anybody know how it would be possible to create such an "item type", since it doesn't exist ? I REALLY need this, as I'm quoting a LOT of songs...
  • edited May 13, 2018
    Audio Recording (I believe enregistrement audio in the French interface) is the correct item type. If there are websites that supply structured item data for songs, Zotero will likely be able to import them automatically. Otherwise, you can manually create items and type in the information, then cite these in Word Luke any other item.
  • Thank you bwiernik.

    As I said, the problem is that audio recording does not export right with quotation marks for the song, italics for the album... I guess it's for something else, maybe audiobooks, I don't know.

    For the moment, the only way I have found around it is to put the song under the file type "book section" (putting the name of the album in the "book title" field), but I think it would be a very good idea to create a "song" file type, as I'm probably not the only one who could use it. It would allow people to also put the running time, for example, the day when it was recorded in the studio if they have it...

    As for finding a website that supplies structured item data, I'm not sure what you mean. MusicBrainz has some INFO about songs, for example, but not in the form of metadata that you could simply drag and drop to Zotero. I have to manually create everything, and for the moment, I have to do it in "book section" form.
  • All of that is controlled by the citation style. What style are you using?
  • Right now I'm using MLA.

    The whole point of having a "song" file type is to make sure that it will also transfer to other styles. For the moment, I have found a way around it with "book section", but I have no idea if that would work if I suddenly have an article to write in Chicago style, for example.

    Moreover, in the "song" file type, there could be fields that are useful for that specifically : name of composer, names of performers, running time, date of recording, date of release...

    I just leave a "..." here for anybody to fill in. I think if Zotero decides to add that, it would be interesting to know exactly which fields would be interesting. I'm new to Zotero and don't know how the community works, but maybe it's not that complicated to do.
  • edited May 14, 2018
    As I’ve said before, Audio Recording is a “song” type. It has all of the fields you are asking for. It just appears that MLA might not have the formatting for that type correct. What does MLA currently output for Audio Recording and what are you expecting?
  • I don't that's right bwiernik -- I'd understand "song" (or "track" or whatever is a good label) as having the same relationship to an album [1] as a chapter has to a book. The audio recording item type doesn't currently capture that in Zotero (and hence neither do the CSL implementations). Most importantly, there's no field for album (or container, more broadly speaking).

    [1] With some complications arising now with many songs being accessed through spotify or YouTube
  • My mistake. I don’t see much issue with using container-title, etc. for those data, do you?
  • Data-wise, no, should definitely be container-title.

    The question is if we need a separate item type or not. We could in general make formatting dependent on the presence of a container-title but while I think I like the logic, I'm a) worried it won't be clear on a user interface level (i.e. will just keeping it audio recording and relying on users to understand that to distinguish between song and album they need to enter an album/container title and
    b) that we don't currently do this in CSL so it requires a lot of new logic in citation styles.
  • This is more of a general comment on the state of CSL, but more broadly, a lot of item types would benefit from the container structure (we’ve had requests for report, speech, and song). I wonder whether the cleanest and most future proof change might be to assume that all individual works may or may not have containers and/or collections.
  • Thank you both for trying to help me.
    I must admit I'm having a hard time following the conversation, right now, as :
    - I don't know what CSL is
    - I don't see what you mean by "container-title" / "container structure"

    Unless there is a simple way for you to answer this question, I will just wait until you have figured out things together and then you can tell me what I should do. ;-)

    One thing is obvious to me, the user interface to be improved for the user to know where to put a song, because clearly "audio recording" doesn't work.

    Thanks a lot for your efforts !
  • @jcmeunier Most of that conversation wasn't directed to you but was among very active volunteer-developers who were discussing how to best resolve your problem. They were acknowledging that, right now, any fix is not straightforward to less-experienced users.
  • Thank you DWL-SDCA. I will just keep using my temporary fix for the moment and follow the conversation until some sort of « solution » is found. Not perfect, but for the moment it seems to work.
    I hope it can help other less-experienced users who are also doing research in music.
  • One possible solution at the moment would be to use Audio Recording, then add the album information to Extra like this:
    Container Title: Album title

    Then you would need to edit the CSL style to accommodate the additional data. If you give an example of how a song should be cited, I can adjust the style or walk you through it.
  • OK, so here it goes.
    Example of the song Motorpsycho Nitemare, by Bob Dylan.
    I chose Audio Recording
    I filled in the title of the song : Motorpsycho Nitemare
    I filled in the performer fields : Dylan / Bob
    I filled in the label : CBS
    I filled in the year : 1964
    So far, so good. I could fill running time..., which I will probably do once this issue is solved, but it's not relevant in this conversation, since it will not be quoted.

    Two problems arise :
    1. The name of the song appears in italics in MLA. According to MLA style, it should be between quotation marks. I tried copy / pasting it to the "short title" field, but it does not change a thing

    2. The name of the album, namely Another Side of Bob Dylan, does not appear AT ALL when I put it in the field called "Series Title"
    If I put it in Volume, it appears as Vol. Another Side..., which is not suitable
    In MLA, it should just appear in italics.
    I tried to enter it in Extra : Container Title : Another Side of Bob Dylan. It did not do anything

    Not much to add for the moment. I hope this helps...
  • @jcmeunier If you can indicate how you want the item to be cited (in text, written out as if in a footnote, verbatim, as it should appear), it will be helpful to @bwiernik.
  • edited May 15, 2018
    Yes, please type out exactly what you would like it to show and I can make it work. The default MLA style doesn't look for Container Title when citing songs (that's the discussion between adamsmith and me above), but I can easily make you a custom version if you give me a formatted version of the citation you are looking for.
  • Thank you fbennett AND bwiernik.

    So the idea is to be able to do an in-text citation AND therefore to also have it in the final bibliography. It would be difficult to say if I'm also going to need to cite it in a content note at some point. Maybe, maybe not.

    In the bibliography, the formatted version should look like this :
    Dylan, Bob. "Motorpsycho Nitemare". Another Side of Bob Dylan (in italics), CBS, 1964.

    I hope that's what you meant by "formatted version".
    Of course, in the in-text citation, in MLA it should just be (Dylan) if I only quote this song - which is extremely unlikely ! - and (Dylan, "Motorpsycho Nitemare") if I quote several songs.

    I hope this answers the question. I REALLY appreciate your help, believe me !
  • Yes, thats what I needed. I’ll try to get to this in the next few days. Ping me if you don’t hear back within the week.
  • PING bwiernik ;-)
  • Dear Bwiernik,

    Do you think you will be able to solve the problem any time soon ? Or should I just use the temporary fix I have found ?

    Thank you
  • Sorry. Had some crises come up that needed attention. I’ll take care of it tomorrow.
  • edited June 2, 2018
    @jcmenier I looked at the Modern Language Association style that comes pre-loaded with Zotero. It already has the correct logic to place titles in quotes (instead of italics) when a Container Title is present. So, using the unmodified style, you can get the format you want with Audio Recording by entering the information like this:

    Title: Motorpsycho Nitemare
    Performer: Dylan || Bob
    Label: CBS
    Date: 1964
    Extra: Container title: Another side of Bob Dylan

    That yields:
    Dylan, Bob. “Motorpsycho Nitemare.” Another Side of Bob Dylan, CBS, 1964.

    It looks like the issue you were having before was that you put a space between "Container title" and the : colon following it.

    Does that work for you, or were you thinking of a different style?
  • @dstillman Would it be reasonable to let there be whitespace between the CSL variable name and the colon when parsing variables from Extra, or is that going to be too problematic?
  • @bwiernik Wow ! Thanks a lot ! You're right, that was exactly the reason !

    It works fine now.

    I have a question, though. Sometimes, in MLA, you indicate the format, such as :
    Dylan, Bob. “Motorpsycho Nitemare.” Another Side of Bob Dylan, CBS, 1964. Vinyl EP.

    It's particularly important when you want to draw attention to differences between vinyl versions and CD versions.

    I tried entering "Vinyl EP" in the "format" field, but it doesn't yield anything. Should I enter it differently ?

    Also, is there a particular reason why the developers choose to enter "Container title: Another Side of Bob Dylan" instead of having an "album" field, or maybe use the "series title" field ?

    None of these two questions are urgent.

    Thanks again ! Need to finish this dissertation before 18 June, and this is really saving my life. :D
  • Container title is the generic term in the CSL Citation programming language (eg, it’s what Journal Title is mapped to for articles). The Extra syntax is a way of accessing CSL variables without corresponding Zotero fields.

    @adamsmith Would it make sense to just add medium to the official MLA style?
  • @bwiernik Thank you very much for your quick answer. If I understand well, adding "container title" just avoids creating a new field, like the Journal Title field for articles, for example.

    Since I don't know how Zotero works, I'm just wondering if it would be possible to add an "album" field to audio recordings (which seems to generally make sense beyond my personal research) or to map "series title" so it works the same way as "Journal Title", for example (I don't know what "series title" is normally supposed to be for).
  • Adding an Album field is a possibility for a future version of Zotero. The Extra method is just a workaround for now.
  • @bwiernik

    OK. Thank you very much for your help. It's a VERY good workaround indeed.

    Concerning the EP / LP / CD issue, I suppose you're waiting for an answer from @adamsmith before you can answer me.
  • Yeah, that’s an easy thing to add, just a question of whether it should go into the official style.
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