Music Cataloging at Yale RDA

A brief overview of some of the changes from AACR2 to RDA
Note: this page was created with music cataloging in mind.

RDA and sound recordings—a cataloging workshop by Kathy Glennan
A brief introduction to RDA for scores & sound recordings by Nancy Lorimer
Changes from AACR2 to RDA: a comparison of examples by Adam L. Schiff, Principal Cataloger, University of Washington Libraries
Significant changes for cataloging music: AACR2 vs. RDA by Daniel Paradis, Concordia University

Some RDA terminology differs from that of AACR2:
uniform title
physical description
sound disc, etc.
chief source
general material designator
authorized access point (AAP)
preferred title; conventional collective title
audio disc, etc.
creator (includes composers, librettists, lyricists)
preferred sources
content, media, and carrier type


From Kathy Glennan, MLA-L, 1/17/2014
  • RDA generally eschews abbreviations. The primary exceptions are for:
    • Units of measurement
    • Abbreviations that are regularly used in resources and are commonly understood by users (e.g., "SATB", "op.")
    • Abbreviations that a resource uses to identify itself (e.g., "BWV" instead of "Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis")
Abbreviations are used only when they appear on the resource. The exceptions are no. and op. (which will be used the same way as they were in AACR2: in the title area, abbreviate only when abbreviated on the item; abbreviate in access points), thematic index numbers, voice range (SATB, etc.), and units of measurements.
     Use "in." for inches; however, "cm" is no longer considered to be an abbreviation
Use "stereo" and "mono" (also no longer considered to be abbreviations), but spell out other terms ("quadrophonic," etc.)
that is
[place of publication not identified]
[publisher not identified]
[date of publication not identified]

Examples of some of changes to abbreviations used in the physical description (extent of item)
3 vol.
ca. 200 p.
48 [i.e. 96] p.
[16] p. of plates
3 volumes
approximately 200 pages
48, that is, 96 pages
16 unnumbered pages of plates

AACR2: the system of measurement used to record dimensions varies depending on the type of resource.
RDA: metric units are used. (LCPS allows for using inches for discs (RDA

Metric units:
AACR2: they are considered abbreviations and are followed by a full stop (e.g., cm.)
RDA: they are treated as symbols and are not followed by a full stop (e.g., cm).

Examples of changes to abbreviations used in dates in authorized access points representing persons (formerly known as name headings)
b. 1825
d. 1859
ca. 1837
1836 or 7
18th cent.
16th/17th cent.
born 1825
died 1859
approximately 1837
1836 or 1837
18th century
LC practice

active 16th century-17th century

RDA differentiates between recording and transcribing elements.
   ° Recorded elements: the found information is often adjusted
   ° Transcribed elements: the data is accepted as found on the resource
   ° The transcribed elements are:
Associated MARC field
title 245 ‡a, ‡b
statement of responsibility 245 ‡c
edition statement 250 ‡a, ‡b
numbering of serials 490 ‡v
production statement 264 _0 ‡a, ‡b, ‡c
publication statement 264 _1 ‡a, ‡b, ‡c
distribution statement 264 _2 ‡a, ‡b, ‡c
manufacture statement 264 _3 ‡a, ‡b, ‡c
series statement 490 ‡a

New to RDA:
Capitalization: RDA Appendix A: LC policy is to follow the capitalization on the resource or follow the instructions in Appendix A.
Diacritics: Transcribe when they appear; not necessary to add them when they are omitted from the resource.
Abbreviations: RDA Appendix B: Transcribe as found on the RDA preferred source; otherwise do not use abbreviations

Other things:
Parallel titles may be taken from anywhere on the resource, and are not enclosed in brackets
   ° However, other title information must be taken from the same source as the title proper
Statement of responsibility may be taken from anywhere on the resource
   ° Transcribe title, terms of address, etc.
   ° Transcribe all persons named, even when there are four or more
Edition statement:
   ° Abbreviations are used only when they appear on the resource
   ° Use the form of numbering (e.g., Arabic, roman, etc.) that appear on the resource

Chief/preferred source:

Scores Sound recordings
other preliminaries
other sources
embedded textual material
elsewhere on the resource
      (container, insert, etc.)
*Use the label:
     ° even when there is a collective title elsewhere on the resource
     ° only if the information found there represents the resource as a whole
For multi-disc sets, use the labels collectively

Inaccuracies, omissions:
AACR2: Inaccuracies are transcribed followed either by [sic] or by "i.e." and the correction in square brackets. Missing letter(s) are supplied in square brackets.
RDA: Inaccuracies are transcribed as they appear on the source of information. If necessary, a note may be made correcting the inaccuracy, and the title as corrected may be recorded as a variant title if it is considered important for access.

AACR2 1.0F
245 10 ‡a Morton Feldmans Untiteled [sic] composition für Cello und Klavier
246 3  ‡a Morton Feldmans Untitled composition für Cello und Klavier

RDA 1.7.9,
245 10 ‡a Morton Feldmans Untiteled composition für Cello und Klavier
246 3  ‡i Title should read: ‡a Morton Feldmans Untitled composition für Cello und Klavier

AACR2 1.0F
245 00 ‡a Horn sonat[a]s
246 3  ‡a Horn sonats

RDA 1.7.9,
245 00 ‡a Horn sonats
246 3  ‡i Title should read: ‡a Horn sonatas

Dashes, brackets
AACR2: ... (ellipses) and [ ] square brackets are replace by — and ( ).
RDA: The punctuation is transcribed as it appears on the source.

Title appears on the resource as
...Huésped de las nieblas...
...Guest from the mists...
for flute and piano

AACR2 1.1B1F
245 10 ‡a --Huésped de las nieblas-- = ‡b --Guest from the mists-- : for flute and piano

RDA 1.7.3
245 10 ‡a ...Huésped de las nieblas... = ‡b ...Guest from the mists... : for flute and piano

Edition statement: (250 field) will now encompass elements relating to the format of music that were scattered over various areas in AACR2:
° Musical presentation statement (e.g., Score and parts), currently tagged in 254 field
° Statements of responsibility relating to the format of music (e.g., vocal score by [name]), currently tagged in 245/‡c
° Voice range statements (e.g., High voice)

Publication statement: A new, repeatable MARC field (264) is used for production, publication, distribution, printing, and copyright date
1st indicator:
2nd indicator:
always blank

production (for unpublished resources)
copyright notice date (optional)

Abbreviations are not used unless they appear on the resource.

Place of publication: if more than one, only the first is required (2.8.2)
   ° Include all hierarchies of place, e.g., New Haven, CT, USA
   ° No requirement to include place in the US if the publisher is not in the US
Publisher name: if more than one, on the first is required (2.8.4)
   ° Use the full name as found on the resource, e.g., Theodore Presser Company, Hildegarde Publishing Company
   ° Include all corporate hierarchies of the name of publisher
Date of publication: record the date as found on the resource
   ° LCPS 1.8.2 (first alternative) says to transcribe roman numerals and not convert to Arabic

Place, name, and/or date of publication not identified on resource:
   ° AACR2: [S.l.], [s.n.], [n.d.]
   ° RDA: [place of publication not identified], [publisher not identified], [date of publication not identified]
      ° LCPS instruction strongly encourages: supply a place of publication in brackets or date in brackets
      ° Each subfield is separately bracketed: D1.2.1: When adjacent elements within one area are to be enclosed in square brackets, enclose each in its own set of square brackets.


Publication dates and copyright (©)/phonogram () dates are different elements in RDA and the copyright date may not be used for the date of publication.

If the date of publication is unknown, use [Date of publication not identified] or an estimated date in brackets, with a question mark, if necessary.
Copyright/phonogram date is not required if a publication date is known. However, for music materials, it is strongly suggested that copyright/phonogram dates are included, even when they are the same as the publication date.
   ° Record the latest copyright date; for recordings, prefer dates over © dates.

Extent (RDA 3.4) and Physical description (AACR2):
The number and type of units (a physical or logical constituent of a resource; e.g., a volume, audiocassette, film reel, a map, a digital file) and/or subunit (a physical or logical subdivision of a unit; e.g., a page of a volume, a frame of a microfiche, a record in a digital file)
   Give the extent if the resource is complete or if the total extent is known

Use the appropriate term, which may be a term from the carrier type list ( or a general term (

Notated music:
Some terms are no longer used.
RDA (see 7.20.13 or metadata registry for a full list of terms)
v. of music, p. of music, leaves of music score
close score condensed score (now used for both vocal and instrumental scores)
miniature score study score

16 p. of music
1 miniature score
1 close score
1 sound disc
1 sound cassette
1 score (16 pages)
1 study score
1 condensed score
1 audio disc
1 audiocassette

Physical description of sound recordings:
Most terms for types of carriers used in the extent are modified. The word "sound" is discontinued to avoid confusion with content.
sound cartridge audio cartridge
sound disc audio disc
piano, [etc.] roll audio roll
sound cassette audiocassette
sound tape reel audio tape
sound track film reel, [cassette, etc.] sound-track reel

Additionally, some details are given even if they are standard for the type of resource:
° type of recording: analog, digital (
° recording medium (
° playing speed (
° groove characteristic ( (e.g., microgroove)
° track configuration (
° tape configure (number of tracks on an audiotape) ( (e.g., 12 track)
° playback ( (e.g., mono, stereo)
° special playback characteristics ( (e.g., Dolby, CD audio, DVD audio, MP3, SACD)
° tape configuration (number of tracks on an audiotape)
° dimensions of cartridges and cassettes, including the width of the tape
   ° metric units are used for dimensions, but RDA allows for the use of another system of measure
      (e.g., inches: 4 3/4 in.)

General material designation:

Three new fields (336, 337, 338) collectively replace the General material designation (245 ‡h)
See Content, Media, and Carrier (RDA 6.9, 3.2, 3.3 & MARC 336-338)

Notation: indicating type of notation, even with it is staff notation, is required in RDA (7.13; see also metadata registry) and is given in the 546 field: graphic notation, letter notation, mensural notation, neumatic notation, number notation, solmization, staff notation, tablature, tonic sol-fa.

Identifying works and expressions
      ("work(s)" in RDA refers to both individual works and compilations)
Two steps
   1. record attributes (6.2-6.26)
   2. determine which attributes to use in the authorized access point (6.27-6.31)

Authorized access points comprise
   ° preferred name of the creator (if applicable)
   ° preferred title of work
   ° additional elements to differentiate among other works/expressions

Differences from AACR2:
   ° no equivalent to AACR2's "works of mixed responsibility"
   ° no more rule of three
   ° medium of performance in access point can contain more than three elements
   ° use "cello" not "violoncello"
   ° spell out "acc." "arr." and "unacc."
   ° fewer restrictions on recording key
   ° librettos and operas are considered separate works
Source: RDA and Sound Recordings—A Cataloging Workshop: Cataloging with RDA—Sound Recordings

RDA open metadata registry (controlled lists of vocabulary to be used in RDA) related to music:
   ° carrier type (includes all, not just music)
   ° content type: notated music, tactile notated music, performed music
   ° format: notated music
   ° extent: notated music, performed music (includes non-audio carriers that may or may not apply to performed music)

Specific to sound recordings:
   ° type of recording, configuration of playback channels, special playback characteristics, generation of audio recording
Specific to notated music:
   ° other distinguishing characteristics of the expression of a musical work

Medium of performance:
   ° medium of performance, instrumental music for orchestra, string orchestra, or band, standard combinations of instruments, solo voices, choruses

[Return to Music Cataloging at Yale]Comments about this page to Mickey Koth, Yale University Music Library
Last revised January 17, 2014.