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Citation Guide- MLA: Citation for Music

Essential information to become a successful "citer"

The elements of a music citation are very similar to the elements of a website or book citation.  In both instances you are looking for some or all of the following:

 

Author.                   This can be the artist or composer, e.g. Purcell, Henry.
Title of Source.   

The title of the work you are citing.

 

*Note: Depending on where you find the work the title can be in italics or in quotation marks.  

If your source is self-contained, like an album or a book, it would be written with italics, e.g. Chromatica. Another example would be if you were citing an entire website.

If the source is 'contained' within something else, like a website, a collected works, or a larger musical work, it would be written with quotation marks, e.g. "Prelude for the Witches"

Title of Container,  This can be the website, the book, the album, or the larger body of work the part was taken from, e.g. Dido and Æneas (Z. 626): Vocal Score
Contributor,

Examples of contributor include the conductor, singer, or music ensemble connected with the work

Date of composition, This is optional but can be helpful to include
Version,         Edition
Number. Volume
Publisher, This could be the record label
Publication date, Publication date
Location. Page number(s) or URL
Accessed Date. For online material please include the date you accessed the resource, e.g. Accessed 10 Oct. 2020.

Example of full citation using these elements:

Purcell, Henry.  "Prelude for the Witches." Dido and Æneas (Z. 626): Vocal Score. [Circa 1680]. Serenissima Music, 2012, p.27. 

 

Citation Generators

There are lots of citation generators available.  The OSLIS Citation Maker (MLA) and NoodleTools are strongly recommended because they have source templates for audio recordings, video recordings, and performances - all of which may be relevant to a music student.

Works Cited

 

Here are examples of citations of common music resources:

Material Type Works Cited List
Song from an album

Family Name, First Name. "Song Title." Album Title. Label, Date.

 

Example:

Sheeran, Ed. "Eraser." Divide. Atlantic, 2017.

Whole album

Family Name, First Name.  Album Title. Label, Date.

 

Example:

Sheeran, Ed. Divide. Atlantic, 2017.

Whole album, artist is a group

Group name.  Album Title. Label, Date.

 

Example:

Beatles. Abbey Road. Capitol, 1969.

Song/Track from an online source

e.g. Spotify

Family Name, First Name. "Song/ Track Title." Album Title. Label, Date. Website Title, URL Accessed Date.

 

Example:

Verdi, Guiseppe. "Act 1: Ritorna vincitor! (Live)." Aïda (Bayerische Staatsoper live), Orfeo D'or, 22 Mar., 1979. Spotify, open.spotify.com/track/7FVqiXDmZ1Omctib6B1MYw?si=xcp3luO8Qca0HheJuu5iRw. Accessed 10 Oct. 2020.

Song/Track from an online source with featured artist

e.g. Spotify

Family Name, First Name. "Song/ Track Title." Album Title. Performed by First Name Family Name, Label, Date. Website Title, URL Accessed Date.

 

Example:

Verdi, Guiseppe. "Act 1: Ritorna vincitor! (Live)." Aïda (Bayerische Staatsoper live). Performance by Anna Tomowa-Sintow et al., Orfeo D'or, 22 Mar., 1979. Spotify, open.spotify.com/track/7FVqiXDmZ1Omctib6B1MYw?si=xcp3luO8Qca0HheJuu5iRw. Accessed 10 Oct. 2020.

Album from an online source

e.g. Spotify

Family Name, First Name. "Song/ Track Title." Album Title. Label, Date. Website Title, URL Accessed Date.

 

Example:

Verdi, Guiseppe. Aïda (Bayerische Staatsoper live). Orfeo D'or, 22 Mar., 1979. Spotify, open.spotify.com/track/7FVqiXDmZ1Omctib6B1MYw?si=xcp3luO8Qca0HheJuu5iRw. Accessed 10 Oct. 2020.

Song with emphasis on the performer 

Performer Family Name, Performer First Name. "Song/ Track Title." Album Title, Composed by First Name Family Name, Label, Date. Website Title, URL Accessed Date.

 

Example:

Tomowa-Sintow, Anna. "Act 1: Ritorna vincitor! (Live)." Aïda (Bayerische Staatsoper live)composed by Guiseppe Verdi, Orfeo D'or, 22 Mar., 1979. Spotify, open.spotify.com/track/7FVqiXDmZ1Omctib6B1MYw?si=xcp3luO8Qca0HheJuu5iRw. Accessed 10 Oct. 2020.

Music from an online source

e.g. YouTube

Family Name, First Name. "Song/ Track Title." YouTube, uploaded by First Name Family Name, Date, URL Accessed Date.

 

Example:

Dhol Foundation. "Bhangra Chips." YouTube, uploaded by Johnny Kalsi, 2 Nov. 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=52Pz29R7DqQ.  Accessed 6 Nov. 2020. 

Part of a score in print 

Family Name, First Name. "Title of part." Score Title. Date of composition (optional). Publisher, Date, Page Number.

 

Example:

Purcell, Henry.  "Prelude for the Witches." Dido and Æneas (Z. 626): Vocal Score. [Circa 1680]. Serenissima Music, 2012, p.27. 

Whole score in print

Family Name, First Name. Score Title. Date of composition (optional). Publisher, Date.

 

Example:

Purcell, Henry.  Dido and Æneas (Z. 626): Vocal Score. [Circa 1680]. Serenissima Music, 2012. 

Score from online source

Family Name, First Name. Score Title. Date of composition (optional). Publisher, Date. Website Title, URL Accessed date.

 

Example:

Aaron, Michael. Etude in C. Mills Music, 1953. IMSLP Petrucci Music Library, petruccimusiclibrary.ca/files/imglnks/caimg/1/19/IMSLP383754-PMLP620192-Aaron,_Michael_-_1_Etude_in_C_major_-_4-7-1898_-_15-4-1963_England.pdf. Accessed 3 Nov. 2020.

Student's original work 

*Note: This relates to entirely original compositions, not transcripts of other's work.

**For assessment student may have to omit their name and their school name to preserve anonymity. If it helps bring clarity conclude the citation with 'Composed by candidate.'

 

 

Family Name, First Name. "Title of work". Date. Title of Course (Optional), Name of School (Optional), Type of Work (Optional).

 

Example: 

“Music Inspired by an Afternoon in Shanghai.” 10 Sept. 2020. IB HL Music, student sheet music. Composed by the candidate.

 

In-Text Citation

In-text citation should follow standard MLA guidelines.  If there is an author this should be used for the in-text citation; if there is no author please use the title.

 

In-text citations can be included in the sentence directly, or be included at the end of a sentence in parentheses (like this).

 

If your source has page numbers please use these in your in-text citation, e.g. (Smith 52).  

 

In some instances it may be more helpful to use measures, rather than page numbers, when directing the reader to a specific place in a musical work.  This can be abbreviated to m. for measure, or mm. for measures when referring to a number of bars, for example:

 

          Mozart supplies a gently rocking melody for Figaro and Susanna’s private reconciliation (measures 275-93).

          or

          Mozart supplies a gently rocking melody for Figaro and Susanna’s private reconciliation (mm. 275-93) but sets the Count’s public repentance and his wife’s

          sublime forgiveness more grandly (mm. 420-30). 

          (MLA8 Citation examples from: "How do I Cite measures from a Musical Score," MLA8 Style Center, 10 Jan. 2019. https://style.mla.org/citing-measures-musical-score/. Accessed 1 March 2021.) 

Examples

If you include musical illustrations in your work, like a portion of a music score, please refer to these as 'Example' followed by the appropriate number, caption, and measure information, e.g.

 

Aaron's 'swift' stylistic approach is represented in his use of staccato notation (Ex. 1). 

            

          Example 1: Aaron, Michael. Etude in C, 1953, (mm. 5-8).  

 

If your musical illustration is your own transcription of an existing piece of work please attribute the work to the original artist/ composer but follow this by the acknowledgement, 'Transcription by candidate.'  For example:

          

           Example 2: Dhol Foundation, "Bhangra Chips," 2020, (mm. 12-13).  Transcription by candidate.

 

Include the full citation for all examples in the works cited list.  

 

"Cite My Sources: MLA." Oregon School Library Information System, secondary.oslis.org/cite-sources/mla. Accessed 15 Nov. 2020. 

"Citing and referencing: Music Scores / Recordings." Monash University, 12 Nov. 2020, guides.lib.monash.edu/c.php?g=219786&p=4061323. Accessed 15 Nov. 2020. 

"Citing Music: MLA Citation Style, 8th Edition." Vassar, Vassar College, 3 Dec. 2018, library.vassar.edu/c.php?g=895637. Accessed 15 Nov. 2020. 

MLA Handbook. 8th ed., Kindle, Modern Language Association of America, 2016.

The MLA Style Center: Writing Resources from the Modern Language Association. Modern Language Association, 2020, style.mla.org. Accessed 15 Nov. 2020.

The Purdue OWL Family of Sites. The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and Purdue U, 2020, owl.purdue.edu/index.html. Accessed 15 Nov. 2020.