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Numbers, instruments and hands: the impact of faceted analytical theory on classifying music ensembles

Lee, D. (2017). Numbers, instruments and hands: the impact of faceted analytical theory on classifying music ensembles. Knowledge Organization, 44(6), pp. 405-415. doi: 10.5771/0943-7444-2017-6-405


This article considers a particularly knotty aspect of classifying notated music: the classification of instrumental ensembles, where the term ensemblesis defined as music written for multiple players with only one player per part. Facet analysis is used to examine this area of music classification and as the basis of a model for classifying ensembles. The conceptual analysis is aided by examples drawn from two classification schemes, British Catalogue of Music Classification (BCMC) and Flexible Classification. First, this exploration reveals that there are conceptually four sub-facets for classifying instrument ensembles, and that the omission of any of these sub-facets causes issues within classification schemes. Next, the different type of relationships between pairs of these sub-facets is delineated, including hierarchical and associative relationships. The classification of ensembles is depicted in a novel way, as a series of inter-connected relationships between sub-facets. Finally, the article ascertains exactly what is being counted, including introducing potential extra sets of sub-facets pertaining to performers and hands. So, facet analysis helps to create a model for classifying instrumental ensembles which provides a novel solution to this historically problematic area of music classification, as well as suggesting a potentially generalizable new way of thinking about complex relationships between sub-facets

Publication Type: Article
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Computer Science
SWORD Depositor:
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