To contribute to VMII, you simply make a spreadsheet in Google Sheets, and it’ll be imported automatically. Contact us for a template.

In the spreadsheet, make a new row for each movement, including instrumental ones.

In your spreadsheet, you can add any formatting (e.g., color coding) you want, since all formatting gets discarded before the data is imported. Note that this means that you have to use special symbols to denote _italics_ and other formatting – more about that later.

You’ll need to work from a good scholarly (collected works) edition, or else an edition or manuscript from the original time period. Contact us if you’re not sure which score to use.


The basics

Most cataloguers find it easiest to start by typing the work/movement numbers/titles. If your edition has a table of contents, you should be able to start there.

Here are the columns you’ll need:


Type the composer’s full name, with the given name first. Separate multiple composers with ;.

Dieterich Buxtehude


Type a Chicago Manual of Style citation for the full score, including any volume or series number, with title italicized as below. Skip the page number and put it in source_full_score_page_num.

_Dietrich Buxtehudes Werke_ (Klecken: Ugrino, Abteilung Verlag, 1925), vol. I


Type the page number in the edition, rather than the PDF page number.



Type the abbreviated name of the composer’s works catalogue.



Type the number in the composer’s works catalogue.



Enter the exact work type from the composer/edition. Contact us if none of these fit:

operasemi-operaopera seriaopéra-ballettragédiegloriamagnificatmassodeoratoriopassionsanctusserenatate deumrequiemcantatacantatekonzertconcertomotetcatchchoraleair de courariaduoliedpastoral odepsalmtriovocalisesongciaconaanthem


Type the title of the work in its original language. Separate multiple titles with ;.

Jesu, ich bin blind von Sinnen


If the movement belongs to an act or part, type it here.

Act 1.


If the movement belongs to a scene, type it here.

Scena prima


The movement number from the score, if there is one. If there’s no number, you can add your own number in angle brackets.

If you see this… …type this:
14a 14a
14a 14[a]
If you added it: <14>


Type the movement title in the original language. If part or all of it is editorial, show that with []. If you had to add the movement title, show that with <>

What about instrumental movements?

For instrumental movements called by their movement type (Sonata, Overture, Sinfonia, etc.), leave this blank.

What if a vocal movement has no title?

Use the first few words (also known as the incipit) as the title:

  1. Ideally, use the first line of poetry as the title. You might have to search for a libretto or look for clues in the score like capitalization.
  2. Otherwise, choose a title that is long enough to differentiate the movement from others with similar names. Stop at a punctuation mark or clause boundary to make the meaning clear: for example, “Nichts soll uns scheiden,” not “Nichts soll uns.”
  3. When in doubt, choose a longer title, to give users more information.

Movement types

Movement types can be anything from “Overture” to “Entrée des songes agréables et effrayés.” Here’s how to capture all that detail.


First, type the exact movement type from the score.

Récit à 4

If the movement has multiple types, separate them with a semicolon:

Air; Recitative

If the movement type is editorial (typically shown in editions with italics or [square brackets]), type it in square brackets:

Air; [Recitative]

What if there’s no movement type?

Choose one from the table below and type it in angle brackets. Use a movement type that matches the language of the other movement types, or of the score – for example, <Récitatif> for French music, or <Recitativo> for German music in an edition that uses Italian movement types.


If the movement_type_orig isn’t one of the standard ones listed below, pick one of these standard movement types and type it in movement_type. Contact us if none of these fit.

Aria ariaariosoairarieariettaariettesolocavatinacabalettakonzertvocalise
Duet duetduettoduettduoaria a due
Ensemble ensemblesolituttiquartetquatuorquartettoquintetquintettquintettequintettotrioterzettterzetto
Song liedsongchansoncanzonecanzonettaodepsalm
Recit accompagnatorecitrecitativorécitatifrecitative
Chorus choruschœurcorochor
Chorale choralechoral
Instrumental adagioballoballibourréechaconneconcertocontredansecouranteentréegavottegavottagiguejigginstrumentalallegrolargoandantelentementlouremarchmarchemenuetminuetmenuettomusettepantomimepassacaillepassacagliapassepiedpreludepréluderigaudonritornelloritournellerondeausarabandesinfoniasinfoniesinphoniasymphoniesimphoniesymphonyovertureouvertureintroductionsimphoniasonatesonatasonatinatambourintamburinomatelotte

Movement instrumentation

Instrumentation is the core of VMII, so we designed a special format to capture as much detail about instrumentation as possible: the order in the score, what’s editorial, what instrument names the composer used, which instruments play on the same line, and more.


For each musical line in the score, type the instruments exactly as listed in the score. Type option + return (Mac) or alt + enter (Windows) to make a new line within the same cell. Be sure to include designations like unisoni, obbligato, ripieno, in eco, etc. Here’s an example.

There are four musical lines, so instrumentation will need to have four lines. The first three are easy:

Oboe I
Violino I

The last line is special. Bassono and Continuo aren’t separate instruments, and Continuo is not really an instrument at all. Type this as follows:

Continuo: Bassono

This shows that the last line is for Continuo (harpsichord, organ, lute, ...), but that the edition has specified Bassono must be in the continuo group.

Let’s look at a bigger example.

Here, the 5th, 6th, and 7th lines have lots of instruments playing the same part. Denote this by putting these instruments on the same line of text and separating them with semicolons (;):

Tromba I
Tromba II
Tromba III
Soprano; Oboe I; Oboe II; Oboe III; Violino I
Alto; Violino II
Tenore; Viola
Continuo: Bassono

Alternate instruments

Sometimes the score will list alternate instruments. Here’s how to handle that.

The o means “or” in Italian. The parentheses are basically just formatting, so don’t include them. Indicate the alternate instruments with a slash (/):

Oboe da caccia / Viola
Continuo: Cembalo; [Organo]

Note that since Organo is editorial, you need to type this in square brackets ([Organo]).


Especially in recitatives, you may see multiple characters listed on the same line of music. They nonetheless have independent lines of music, so list them on separate lines in instrumentation:

Characters are denoted with an @:

[Mezzosoprano @ Ruggiero
Tenore @ Oronte

Note that the introductory material from the edition was helpful for finding the voice part for each character. In this case, the square brackets are because everything is in italics in the edition.

Instrument names

Be sure to spell the instrument names exactly as shown in the score, including plurals:

Here, the cantata is described as “A voix seule” (for solo voice), and later in the work, the voice part is written in treble clef. In French music this would be described as a Dessus vocal, so type that – with angle brackets (<...>) to show that this came from us. The continuo line isn't labeled as such, so you have to choose a label in French.

Violons; Flûtes allemandes
<Dessus vocal>
<Basse continue>

Instrument groupings

If instruments/voices are grouped into Choir 1, Orchestra 1, etc., set them off with =:

If you see this… …type this:


Tromba I solo
Tromba II
Flora (Soprano)
Flauto traverso I or Oboe I + Violini
Flauto traverso II or Oboe II
Taille + Violini II unisoni
Harpsichord, Organ

= Choir I
Tromba I [solo]
Tromba II
Soprano @ Flora
Flauto [traverso I / Oboe I; Violini
Flauto traverso II / Oboe II
Taille; Violini II unisoni
<Continuo>: Harpsichord; [Organ]

Instruments keys

For instruments like horn and timpani that come in different keys, type that as follows:

Timpani in C-G (even if the score says “Timpani in C/Do-G/Sol”)

Work instrumentation

To record the instrumentation required to perform the whole work, start by looking at the title page of the work. If you don’t see the whole-work instrumentation listed there, you’ll have to figure out the minimum needed instrumentation by looking at all the movements. Either way, follow these guidelines:

  1. List the instruments in the same vertical order that the edition uses. For example, if the top line in the score is Violino, then Soprano, then this column should say Violino and then Soprano. (Put another way, it’s not about standard orchestral order but the vertical order used in the score.)
  2. Denote chorus voices with <chorus>.
  3. Each line you type represents an independent musical part. So, for example, if there are two horn parts, and each part needs three keys, type:
    Corno I in C, F, G
    Corno II in C, F, G
  4. If an instrument is always marked “solo” in the movements (or “obligato,” or “ripieno”), type that here. If, for example, just one movement has a flute solo, don’t type Flauto solo (which would indicate a flute soloist for the entire work, like a concerto) but rather just Flauto.
  5. Sometimes instruments play in the continuo as well as having their own parts. In this case, list them only outside the continuo (e.g., Fagotto I and Fagotto II but not also Continuo: Fagotto.

Musical details

Tempo, meter, structure, and key give users a sense of how a piece will sound without just linking them to a recording. These are all optional but add a great dimension to VMII.


Type all tempi in the movement, in the order that they appear. Ignore repeats and separate multiple tempi by ;. If a tempo occurs only later in the piece, precede it with a semicolon.

; Allegro

Note: For French movements like “Air gai,” type Air gai in movement_type_orig, air in movement_type, and gai in tempo.


Type all meters in the movement, separated by ;. For 3 in French music, just type 3. For C (common time), write C. For (alla breve), type \C.

\C; 3/2


Da capo, dal segno, etc. Don’t include plain repeats. Use brackets to indicate editorial additions.

Da [capo]

key_start, key_end

Type the starting and ending keys – the actual tonalities, not just the key signatures – using uppercase for major, lowercase for minor, # for sharp, and b for flat.

db for Db minor

If typing keys from a reference source, remember to cite it as source_background. Otherwise, you’ll need to know some music theory: tendency tones, movable G and C clefs, and occasionally some figured bass. You should also be able to write a V7 chord in any key. To find the start or end key:

  1. Play the bass line and try to find the tonic.
  2. Check the key signature for clues. Note that in early music, key signatures were not yet standardized. For example, g minor might be written with one flat instead of two.
  3. Check the melody and try to find the tonic.
  4. To confirm the tonic, look for key-defining motion:
    • 4̂ → 3̂
    • 2̂ → 1̂
    • 5̂ → 1̂
    • 7̂ → 1̂

key_start is the key that’s established at the beginning. Don’t look farther than 8 beats or so, because the movement may have already changed keys.

key_end is the last key that’s established at the end. Look at the last few measures, not just the last chord:

  • If a movement has a da capo, the key_end is the last key of the A section, not the B section.
  • If, for example, a movement ends with a few measures of C minor and then a Picardy third, catalogue the key_end as c.
  • If, for example, a movement ends with a few measures of G major but ends on a D major (dominant) chord, catalogue the key_end as G.

It’s best to work from the score, but in case of doubt, you may wish to refer to historically informed recordings as well.

Appendices and versions


If the movement is in an appendix, type the appendix name:

Appendix A or just Appendix

Note: If the movement merely refers to an appendix, you can mention that in notes, but leave appendix column blank until you add the separately catalogued movement that’s actually in the appendix.


If the movement has different versions, make a new row for each version and type the version description from the edition.

1734 version

Texts and translations

People all over the world use our texts and translations to learn about the music they’re studying and performing, as well as to find new music to perform. Texts and translations are some of the most important information you can catalogue for VMII.

Typing text from a modern libretto

If you have access to an authoritative, public-domain source for the text, start by adding a column for the original language of the work (text_en, text_fr, etc.) and type all the text, including characters and line breaks, as follows:

Character names @ Evangelist
Jesus ging mit seinen Jüngern...
Multiple characters saying the same text @ Schlendrian; Narrator; Liesgen
Die Katze lässt das Mausen nicht
Chorales **Wie bin ich doch so herzlich froh,
Daß mein Schatz ist das A und O,
Der Anfange und das Ende;...**
Italics _Sehet, wir gehn hinauf gen Jerusalem...._
Indentation and B sections @ Valens
Racks, gibbets, sword, and fire
Shall speak my vengeful ire,
Against the stubborn knee:

> Nor gushing tears,
> Nor ardent pray'rs,
> Shall shake our firm decree.

Here’s an example from Handel’s Theodora:

Libretto Type this

Valens. Racks, gibbets, sword, and fire
Shall speak my vengeful ire,
Against the stubborn knee:

Nor gushing tears,
Nor ardent pray’rs,
Shall shake our firm decree.

@ Valens
Racks, gibbets, sword, and fire
Shall speak my vengeful ire,
Against the stubborn knee:

> Nor gushing tears,
> Nor ardent pray'rs,
> Shall shake our firm decree.

Typing text from a historical source

If you have access to a historical source, such as a facsimile of an opera libretto from the time period, you can type that with original formatting, capitalization, and spelling. Use a column named text_en_orig, text_fr_orig, etc., based on the language.

Be sure to label character names, B sections, chorales, etc. as described above.

To type the old letter ſ, use \s:

Prince\ss for Princeſs

Here’s an example from Alcina:

@ Melisso
Il Mar turbato, il Vento
Qui ne \so\spin\se.

@ Bradamante
E a chi è 'l felice \suolo ?

@ Morgana
Della po\s\sente _Alcina_ il Regno è que\sto.

@ Melisso
Oh ! noi felici !

Typing text from a score

If you can’t find a modern libretto, you’ll have to type the text directly from the score, adding line breaks as needed to turn it back into poetry.

Don’t type words that the composer chose to repeat (Ich habe genug, ich habe genug, genug) – your goal is to recreate the text that the composer worked from.

Where do I add line breaks?

It can be difficult to figure out where to put line breaks in a text. Some clues:

  • Search the internet for other settings of the same text.
  • Look for capitalized words in the score – these might indicate the beginning of a line.
  • Look for rhyme and meter schemes – try speaking the text aloud.

Should I update spelling and capitalization?

If your score is modern and recent, use a modern text column (e.g., text_en) and match the spelling of the score.

If your score is modern but old (e.g., from the 1930s with slightly older spellings), modernize those spellings based on a current dictionary. (See Deutsche Rechtschreibung regarding the German letter ß.)

If your score is from the original time period, use a historical text column (e.g., text_en_orig) and see Typing text from a historical source.


Add columns (text_en, text_fr, etc.) for any translations. Note that translations are highly creative work and thus are copyrighted. You must make sure your translation is in the public domain, or get written permission to use it.

To make it easier to follow on VMII, the translation should be have the same line breaks as the original.

Text references

When learning about a movement, it’s helpful to know where the text came from. You research this and add several columns to describe the origin of the text.


Type the name of the librettist(s).



Type a brief description of large-scale adaptations, e.g. when an entire work (not just a movement) is based on another work. Indicate the source of the information with an in-text citation in Chicago Author–Date style. Begin with a lowercase letter.

based on the style of poems by Salomo Franck (Dürr 2005, 409).


For sacred music written for a particular occasion, type the corresponding scripture readings from the liturgical calendar. Separate chapter and verse with :. If the reading spans multiple verses, repeat the chapter number and separate the first and last verse with a dash. List the Epistle reading, the Gospel reading, and then any other relevant readings.

Galatians 3:23–3:29; Luke 2:21

text_references / text_reference_types

Sometimes, the librettist or composer created a text from multiple sources – for example, taking some text verbatim from John 16:2–3 and adapting other text from a hymn.

You can describe these kinds of adaptations using these two columns, which work together. Each line of text_references describes a source (scriptures, hymns, etc.) that the text is adapted from, and each corresponding line of text_reference_types explains the nature of that adaptation. For example:

For example, here’s how to catalogue a movement with verbatim text from John 16:2–3 as well as adapted text from a 1587 hymn:

text_references: text_reference_types:
John 16:2-16:3
first verse of _Jesu dulcis memoria_ by Martin Moller (1587)

Possible values for text_reference_types

adapted The text is altered to make it suitable for performance (e.g., it was originally a poem, but it was reworked to become a dialogue between two characters).
verbatim The text has not changed at all.
paraphrased The meaning remains the same, but the text has been changed (to make its meaning clearer, to make it fit the melody better, to fit it grammatically to the preceding libretto, etc.).
referenced The style or imagery of a text is substantially invoked, but the text itself is not used.

Work context


sacred or secular


The 4-digit year the work was composed, or a range separated by -. Use ? if the year is uncertain.



Type the two-letter language code for the original language of the work:



The table of contents or title page will often give an occasion that the work was composed for. (Otherwise, Type that here.

birthday or Trinity II


The person the work was composed for, if applicable.

Queen Elizabeth I


The status of the score availability, to you and/or the modern world

partly lostmostly lostmusic lostlostincompletescore neededprocessingreconstructionfragmentdraft



Any information useful for comprehension or performance. If you quote outside sources, cite them inline using Chicago Manual of Style. Use _this_ format for italics.


Any issues you ran into. When your work is public on VMII, these will be shown publicly as well.



Link for the IMSLP listing for the work, starting with https://. Don’t link directly to a PDF – link to the overall listing.


If you referred to a background source such as New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, cite it here using Chicago Manual of Style, including page number (p. 155), with title italicized _like this_.

Alfred Dürr, _Cantatas of J.S. Bach_ (Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 155


List your full name (given name first). If several people contributed to this row, separate their names with ;.

Jane Doe

For extra credit


Type the number of measures in the movement, ignoring repeats and da capos.



The range of each corresponding musical line, with octaves in scientific pitch notation. Use b for flat and # for sharp.



The tessitura of each corresponding musical line, with octaves in scientific pitch notation. Use b for flat and # for sharp.


What’s a movement?

Often, an edition or manuscript clearly divides works into movements with headings like “Aria” or “Recit.” For works that aren’t clearly divided into movements, choose “movement” boundaries that show the structure of the work and help users find performable excerpts.

Start a new movement if several of these are true:

  1. The preceding measure has a fermata or final-sounding cadence.
  2. The previous line of text is the end of a poem or substantial verse.
  3. The text starts with a capital letter.
  4. The meter, instrumentation, key, and/or tempo change.
  5. There is a double bar line, especially with no meter change.

Don’t start a new movement if:

  1. the text/sentence continues or repeats.
  2. the “movement” is just a short adagio echo at the end of a fast movement.

Be careful about copyright!

As a general guideline, you must only type factual information, not creative work. If someone else’s creative work is very old or otherwise in the public domain, you can copy it without written permission. Otherwise, you must get written permission from the copyright holder.

If you need to quote a brief part of someone’s creative work, use quotation marks and cite your source.

As an example, text translations are creative work, so you can’t type them unless you get written permission. However, if a few words from a reference book would be helpful to VMII users, you can type that as long as you put it in quotation marks and cite your source.

Detailed guidance can be found online, for example from Stanford.

If you have the slightest doubt that you might be cataloguing copyrighted material, please stop and contact us to check.

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