• 4-minute read
  • 11th December 2020

How to Cite a Musical Recording in Chicago Footnote Referencing

If you’re writing about music for an essay, you might have to cite song or composition. But how do you cite a music recording in Chicago footnote referencing? In this post, we explain what you need to know.

How to Cite a Musical Recording in Chicago Footnote Referencing

As with any source in Chicago footnote referencing, you can cite a musical recording with a superscript number in the text:

We hear this on the opening track, “Spinning Song.”1

This number then points to a footnote, where you will provide source information. But the information you should include here will depend on what you’re citing.

In the following, we’ll look at how to cite songs and longer recordings on both physical and digital media. Read on to find out more.

Citing a Song in Chicago Referencing

The key components when citing a single song in Chicago referencing are:

  1. Artist’s name – The credited artist or the contributor your work focuses on (e.g., the songwriter or a specific performer).
  2. Role – Only required if the artist is not also the song’s creator.
  3. Song title – The name of the song cited in quote marks.
  4. Other contributors – Any writers or guest artists relevant to your discussion.
  5. Date and location of recording – Include this information if you know it and it is relevant to the recording (e.g., live performances).
  6. Location of song – The track number and name of the album.
  7. Publication information – The publisher, catalogue number (if known), and year of release for the version you’re citing (not the year of recording).
  8. Format – The format or platform you used to access the song.
  9. Additional information – Any additional relevant details (e.g., if you want to include an original date of release for a republished recording, add it here).

You won’t need all this information every time! The key is including enough detail for your reader to find the exact version of the recording you’ve cited. For instance:

1. This Is the Kit, “Was Magician,” track 10 on Off Off On, Rough Trade RTO148CD, 2020, compact disc.
2. Peggy Lee, vocalist, “Fever,” additional lyrics by Eddie Cooley and John Davenport, recorded May 19, 1958, track 14 on Things Are Swingin’, Capitol Records, 2004, Spotify.

Provide full information in the first footnote citation. However, if you cite a song more than once in your work, you can use a shortened format for repeat citations.

Citing a Longer Recording in Chicago Referencing

The format for an album or a standalone recording is similar, except you use the name of the collection in place of a song title and omit any irrelevant details:

3. MC Lars, This Gigantic Robot Kills, Horris Records OGL71003-2, 2009, compact disc.
4. Benjamin Britten, composer and conductor, War Requiem, with Galina Vishnevskaya and the London Symphony Orchestra, Decca Records B00E3TEGJK, 1963, 33⅓ rpm.

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As with citing a song, the key is including enough information for the reader to find the recording. If you are citing a specific part of a long recording that isn’t broken up into tracks, moreover, you can include a time stamp at the end of the citation.

Musical Recordings in a Chicago Bibliography

The entry for a musical recording in a Chicago bibliography will be similar to the first footnote entry for the same source, but with two key differences:

  1. If the artist’s name is a first name and surname (e.g., Benjamin Britten), the entry should begin with the artist’s surname (e.g., Britten, Benjamin).
  2. The main elements of the reference are separated with periods in the bibliography entry, not commas like in the first footnote citation.
  3. Each line after the first should include a half-inch (1.27 cm) hanging indent.

For instance, we would list the recordings above as follows in a bibliography:

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

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

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

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

If you’re citing several recordings in your work, you could list them in a separate “Discography,” or in a separate section of your bibliography, to separate them from text sources. However, unless you have been asked to do this, it is optional.

Expert Chicago Proofreading

Chicago referencing is a very flexible system, but it can also be quite confusing! To make sure your referencing is always correct, then, why not try our academic proofreading services? Submit a free trial document today to find out more.

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