• 4-minute read
  • 18th December 2020

How to Cite a Musical Recording in Chicago Author–Date Referencing

If you refer to a piece of music in your academic writing, you need to cite it. But how does this work? In this post, we’ll look at how to format in-text citations and the reference list entry for a musical recording in Chicago author–date referencing.

How to Cite a Musical Recording in Chicago Author–Date Referencing

As with any source in Chicago author–date referencing, you can cite a musical recording by giving a name and date of publication in parentheses in the text. And in place of an “author” in the conventional sense, this means using:

  • The artist’s name – If the artist’s name follows the standard “First Name Surname” format, give the surname in citations. For other names (e.g., band names or pseudonyms), give the artist’s full name.
  • A date of publication – This should be the date the version you’ve cited was published, not the original recording date or date of original release.

You can see examples of citations of musical recordings below:

The lyrics in this version differ from earlier ones (Lee 2004).

In “No Logo,” MC Lars (2009) satirizes these attitudes.

The recording (Britten 1963) has been used in many film soundtracks.

In most cases, you won’t need a pinpoint citation for a musical recording. However, if you’re discussing a specific part of a recording, you can add a track number after a comma. For recordings that aren’t divided into tracks, use a time stamp.

Musical Recordings in a Chicago Reference List

The key components for a musical recording in a Chicago reference list are:

  1. Artist’s name – Use the same name as you have in your citations. This will be either the credited artist or the contributor your work focuses on. For names that follow the “First Name Surname” format, give the surname first.
  2. Role – If required, you can add a note after the name to clarify the artist’s role in the recording (e.g., vocalist, composer).
  3. Date – As in citations, give the date of publication for the version cited.
  4. Song title – If you’re citing a single song, give the name in quote marks.
  5. Other contributors – Notes on other contributors relevant to your discussion.
  6. Date and location of recording – Include this information if you know it and it is relevant to the recording (e.g., live performances).
  7. Location of song – If you’re citing a song, include the track number and name of the album it is from (the album name is usually given in italics).
  8. Publication information – The publisher and a catalogue number (if known).
  9. Format – The format or platform you used to access the song.
  10. Additional information – Any extra details that are relevant to your citation (e.g., an original date of release for a republished recording).

You won’t need all the above for every source! For instance, if you’re citing a full album, you would use the album title in the position of the song title.

In all cases, though, you should try to provide as much relevant detail as possible to help readers find the exact source you’ve used.

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Example References

To demonstrate how this works in practice, we’ve prepared some examples below:

Britten, Benjamin, composer and conductor. 1963. War Requiem. With Galina Vishnevskaya and the London Symphony Orchestra. Decca Records B00E3TEGJK, 33⅓ rpm.

Lee, Peggy, vocalist. 2004. “Fever.” Additional lyrics by Eddie Cooley and John Davenport. Recorded May 19, 1958. Track 14 on Things Are Swingin’. Capitol Records, Spotify.

MC Lars. 2009. This Gigantic Robot Kills. Horris Records OGL71003-2, compact disc.

This Is the Kit. 2020. “Was Magician.” Track 10 on Off Off On. Rough Trade RTO148CD, compact disc.

As you can see, each line after the first should be formatted with a hanging indent.

If required, you can also place musical recordings in a separate “Discography” so they’re clearly distinct from the print sources in your reference list. However, this is only necessary if you’ve cited a large number of musical recordings.

Expert Chicago Proofreading

Chicago referencing is a very adaptable system, but this can make it easy for errors or inconsistencies to creep into your work. And this means it helps to have an expert proofreader check your writing before you submit it for marking.

Want to find out what this involves? Then try our free trial offer today.

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