Getting started

First, make sure you download a template to your Google Drive. Here’s what the various columns mean.

Example: A three-movement cantata

For example, to catalogue Bach’s cantata Amore traditore, we need three rows. The work title is the same for each, since it’s one work, but each row has a different movement title:

work_title movement_num movement_type movement_title
Amore traditore 1 Aria Amore traditore
Amore traditore 2 Recitativo Voglio provar
Amore traditore 3 Aria Chi in amore

The column order and even the background colors are up to you. In fact, you can show and hide columns in Google Sheets to make it easier to focus. Just be careful if other people are working on the same project.

The column names and contents, on the other hand, are very important. We tried to design a column structure that makes it easy for humans to work with the data but still has enough structure for VMII to be able to understand and search it. We followed a few design principles.

Principle 1: Text only

All columns are just text. Any formatting in Google Sheets gets discarded before the data is imported into VMII. For things like citations that need formatting, we use simple code for text-based formatting (like _this_ for italics). Staying text-only makes the data easier to work with.

Principle 2: One type of information per column

Each column contains just one type of information: a catalogue number, a movement title, etc. We don’t type BWV 203 in a single column but rather have catalogue_name (BWV) and catalogue_num (203).

Principle 3: Columns should capture what’s actually in the score

For example, if you’re cataloguing an opera and the score calls it dramma giocoso, type dramma giocoso in the work_type column. Behind the scenes, VMII has a “thesaurus” that understands that those are types of operas. That way, if you search for operas on VMII, you’ll find works marked singspiel and dramma giocoso.

As another example, if the instrumentation for an aria calls for “Violons II in eco”, type Violons II in eco. Behind the scenes, VMII understand that II in eco are modifiers, Violons is plural, and Violon is the same as a violin.

For more background on this “thesaurus” approach to column design, read Getty’s guide to controlled vocabularies.

Next steps

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