Frequently asked questions

This page aims to provide answers to the most frequently asked questions around the Music Ontology and its use.

What is the Music Ontology?

The Music Ontology provides a vocabulary for publishing and linking a wide range of music-related data on the Web. Music Ontology data can be published by anyone as part of a web site or an API and linked with existing data, therefore creating a music-related web of data.

Why use the Music Ontology?

The Music Ontology provides a useful framework for:

  • Building a music website that's also an API.
  • Opening up music-related data whilst ensuring it can be used alongside other sources.
  • Integrating music-related data across multiple sources.
  • Enriching search-engine results around tracks, artists, musical works etc.
  • Designing a music-related database schema or domain model.

What technologies is it using?

The Music Ontology is built on RDF, a technology developed by the W3C. RDF enables data to be described as "triples": subject, predicate and object, i.e. "this track" "is part of" "this album". RDF can be serialized in a number of ways, as shown in our examples. The Music Ontology is specified using OWL, which provides a set of constructs to describe domain models in RDF.

Why is the Music Ontology based on RDF?

It would be very difficult to tackle the many competing requirements of the music domain with a stand-alone format. By using RDF, the Music Ontology gains a powerful extensibility mechanism, allowing Music-Ontology-based data to be mixed with claims made in any other RDF vocabulary. Instead of covering all music-related topics within the Music Ontology itself, we describe the basic topics and build into a larger framework - RDF - that allows us to take advantage of work elsewhere on more specific description vocabularies.

The various available RDF serializations also enable the Music Ontology to tackle a number of use-cases, e.g. RDFa to embed music data in web pages, JSON-LD to provide such data as part of an API, or RDF/Turtle for easily exchanging large databases of music information.

How expressive is the Music Ontology?

The Music Ontology can express a wide range of music-related information, such as:

  • "A particular arrangement of the Trout Quintet by Franz Schubert was interpreted in this performance."
  • "This work was performed ten times, but only two of these performances were recorded."
  • "Ten takes of this particular track have been recorded, each with a particular microphone location."
  • "'Come as You Are' by Nirvana was released on a single and the 'Nevermind' album."
  • "During this gig, the band played ten songs. During the last one (a cover of "Eight days a week"), the drummer from the support band joined to play with them."

Which ontologies build on the Music Ontology?

Many extensions to the Music Ontology are available, for example to describe the audio content itself (the Audio Features ontology) or recording sessions (the Studio ontology).

Which ontologies does the Music Ontology build on?

The Music Ontology builds on four main ontologies:

  • FOAF, a vocabulary for describing people, groups of people and organisations.
  • The Event Ontology, a vocabulary for describing events, from 'this performance happend on that date' to 'this is the chorus of that song'.
  • The Timeline Ontology, a vocabulary for describing time intervals and instants on multiple (possibly related) timelines, e.g. an audio signal's timeline.
  • The FRBR ontology, a vocabulary for describing works, expressions, manifestations and items and their relationships, as defined by the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records.

How do I contribute or ask questions?

The specification process is community-driven, with discussions happening on our mailing list and development happening on our Github account.

Where can I get more detailed information?

A number of papers have been published on the Music Ontology:

Site designed and built by Rory Pickering.
Photograph is a derivative of work by , licensed under Creative Commons.