Appropriate cataloguing treatment of sound recordings and related audiovisual items

An archive or cataloguing agency may sometimes need to determine the most appropriate cataloguing treatment of audiovisual material, both within the context of the original work, and its performance, realisation or expression, and/or within the role and function of the archive itself.

Where a format for a moving image item is being described, it is anticipated that cataloguing rules appropriate to cataloguing film (e.g. the FIAF Cataloguing Rules for Film Archives) would usually apply.

There may be some cross-over or other type of relationship between moving image and recorded sound formats, however, and the following suggestions are given.

Where a film sound track for a moving image item occurs on disc, as with early sound film; or where physical components for a pre-composite film print are being described (including a film sound track on magnetic audio tape) it is recommended that the the item be catalogued in its capacity as a moving image item.

If, however, a sound recording item were merely captured on U-matic video (sometimes used as an early digital sound format) or on a sound track film format, it is recommended that the item would be catalogued in its capacity as a sound recording.

In each of the above cases, where additional specialist guidance for the physical description of the material is needed, it is recommended that appropriate specialist cataloguing rules for that type of medium be consulted.

Similarly, where a copy of the film sound track from a film production is edited and commercially published as a sound recording (e.g. in LP or CD format) this would be catalogued as a sound recording. In this case the recording would usually be edited to a shorter duration than the film sound track for the film production. It would therefore be a different recording from the original film sound track, and so not considered as part of the moving image item.

An amateur or home video of an opera production on stage may be intended to simply record the event of the performance. As with a sound recording, the main emphasis in cataloguing will therefore be on the created work (i.e. composer and title) and the particular live performance or expression itself (i.e. the opera company, conductor, and performers involved, and the date and place of the event). The medium of moving image coincidentally requires the appropriate general material designation of videorecording, and a physical description for the video. In addition the name of the person who shot the video may also be documented in the catalogue record.

In other instances, for example where a film production is intended to have an opera story complete with musical performance as the story, (e.g. Rosi's 1984 feature film Carmen) the resulting film would need to be catalogued as though it is a film production rather than as a performance of a musical work alone. As such the emphasis in the catalogue record would be on the title of the film with prominence given to the composer (if prominent in the opening credits), as well as to the film director, film producer, cinematographer, country of origin, production company and production date. The major vocal artists (star cast) at least, and the conductor would also be included, usually as a note.

Therefore, while the archive's and their clients' information retrieval requirements must be considered when cataloguing audiovisual materials, there are also other factors to consider. These include the necessity to discern the intention behind, and extent of creative input to, the final product to determine the best cataloguing approach for the material, the appropriate cataloguing rules to use, and the information to be highlighted as significant (see also

In addition, each audiovisual medium (and often each format as applied within that medium) is part of an audiovisual culture unique to itself. In turn, that audiovisual culture is related to its historical era, and to the type of content (including duration of the recorded piece and its genre or style) in the format. The ability to recognise and respond appropriately to each particular era and culture relating to the various audiovisual media and formats is also necessary for cataloguing purposes.

With today's new technology and media, some moving image and electronic resource products could be considered as a contemporary means for communicating content which may otherwise have been exclusive to the recorded sound and radio media of the past (e.g. video histories vs oral histories; music videos vs long play recordings or singles; film or television productions of opera and ballet vs sound recordings and radio productions; and sound excerpts in interactive multimedia and other electronic resources). For this reason, film, video, television and electronic resources are also briefly addressed in these rules.