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Collection National Jukebox

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Glossary of National Jukebox Terms

These definitions will help you understand the terminology used to organize recordings and describe the process of making 78 rpm recordings.

Additional title
In addition to Recording, or Main, titles, the National Jukebox documents additional title information found on record labels or in other sources. Some recordings include two or more distinct works. The first work played on a recording is noted as the "Recording title." Second and third selections included on the recording are noted as "Additional titles."
Alternate title
Alternate titles may be supplementary titles observed on a disc label, or they may be variants found in sources such as record catalogs or Victor ledgers.
Cataloging data contributed by the Encyclopedic Discography Victor Recordings describe the nature of the performance on every recording. These "Descriptions" are based on information found in Victor ledgers, record labels, and trade catalogs printed for the public and Victor record dealers.
Pressings derived from copied discs were called "dubs." Seventy-eight-rpm disc manufacturing processes entailed the creation of several generations of positive and negative impressions of the wax or lacquer master recording. The final, negative, "plate" from which shellac discs were pressed was called a "stamper." The positive plates from which stampers were created were called "mothers." Stampers were good for a limited number of pressings before they wore out. When they wore out, new stampers were generated from the mother. If a stamper was worn out and a mother was not available, usually because it was inadvertently lost, destroyed, or damaged during a manufacturing process, new stampers could not be made. In those instances, a regular disc would be copied to serve as the source of a new set of mothers and stampers. This process resulted in discs of audibly inferior sound to that heard on pressings from stampers made from original mothers. We attempt not to include dubbed sides in the National Jukebox when a copy pressed from an original master is available to us.
Discography of American Historical Recordings (DAHR)
The DAHR External is a comprehensive discography of 78-rpm recordings made by the Victor Talking Machine Company and its successor company, RCA Victor. The discography, initiated in the early 1960s by two collectors, is being compiled at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Data from the discography form the basis for cataloging content in the National Jukebox.
Every recording in the National Jukebox is described by one or more Genre terms. The terms have been assigned from a pre-defined small group. Genre terms describe a broad category or form of music, a type of spoken recording, or another feature of the content of the recording.
Marketing Genre
Throughout the 78-rpm era, many U.S. record companies issued records to be marketed to a variety of immigrant groups. Victor Records issued records intended for sale to Spanish-speaking people in the Caribbean and Central and South America, as well as to foreign-language speakers in the United States. The National Jukebox notes the target audiences for such recordings as "Marketing genre." Recordings issued on both U.S. domestic series and series intended for export are not always marked in the Jukebox with a Marketing genre. Designation of Marketing genre in DAHR is made on the basis of disc label and trade catalog examination as well as information found in record company recording ledgers. The National Jukebox also includes "Educational" as a Marketing genre to designate recordings known to be made for use in primary and secondary schools.
Original recordings, made on wax discs, and later, lacquer discs, are called "masters" in the National Jukebox and DAHR. The term "master" is also used as a verb. If a recording is indicated as "mastered" it is assumed that the manufacturing process was initiated, that the master disc was metal-plated and "mothers" and "stampers" were generated. See also Matrix and "Dubbed."
The editors of the Discography of American Historical Recordings use the term "matrix number" to refer to the serial number assigned by Victor Records and other companies to individual recordings or sets of recordings made by a performer or ensemble. In Victor's original use of the term, a full matrix number comprises three elements -- a letter prefix, a serial number, and a take number (see also Prefixes and Take).
Names used in the National Jukebox are taken from the Library of Congress Authorities database whenever possible. This database, a collection of standardized names, titles, and subjects, allows catalogers to unify all records associated with a person. While the names assigned in the authorities database frequently match what is seen on a disc label or in record catalogs, this is not always the case. When most printed matter, such as disc labels, catalogs, and secondary sources, provide a version of a name significantly different from the LC Authorities, DAHR editors selected this alternate name as the person's primary name and that is the form of the name found in the National Jukebox. When recording artists, ensembles, composers, or authors are listed on record labels or Victor documentation under pseudonyms, DAHR and the National Jukebox cite both versions of the name, with the actual name referenced in brackets. An example is, Sousa's Band [i.e., Pryor's Band]. In this instance, Pryor's Band made the recording but it was listed in Victor catalogs and on disc labels as Sousa's Band. Slight variants of names employed on pressings for export, such as Banda Victor for the Victor Band, are not always fully documented in the National Jukebox.
Parallel title
A parallel title is a translated version of a title, found on a disc label, in a company trade catalog, or in company documentation. An example of a parallel title is "The pearl fishers" for Georges Bizet's opera, Pêcheurs de perles.
The system for matrix identification employed by Victor Records from 1903 on included the use of letter prefixes before each master (Matrix) number. In the acoustic recording era, each master number was preceded by a letter that indicated the size of the master disc. The classification for U.S. recordings was as follows: A = 7-inch; B = 10-inch; C = 12-inch; D = 14-inch; E = 8 inch. Recordings made during Victor's field trips to the Caribbean and Central and South America were assigned special prefixes unique to the field trip.
Before the process of manufacturing disc records by electroplating the wax master disc to produce both mothers and stampers was implemented in 1903 (see "Dubbed"), the Victor Talking Machine Company created the metal plates from which recordings were pressed (stampers) directly from the wax master disc. This process severely limited the number of discs that could be manufactured from one master recording. When a stamper wore out, if additional records were to remain available for sale, the artist was required to return to the recording studio to make a new master recording. Ted Fagan and William R. Moran, co-creators of the Discography of American Historical Recordings, coined the term "pre-matrix" for this early process. Use of the term "pre-matrix" for this series of recordings has been maintained in the online version of DAHR and in the National Jukebox. Note that master numbers and catalog numbers were often identical in the "pre-matrix" era. Pseudonyms. See Names.
A "songwriter" designation has been assigned to composers or lyricists when it is unclear to catalogers and editors how to categorize the contributions of a song's creators. In many cases, individuals so designated were composers, but confirmation of this role could not be found in sheet music or other sources. In some cases, where sheet music examined included statements such as "By John Jones and Bill Smith," or "Words and music by Jones and Smith," both Jones and Smith are designated as songwriters.
Each attempt a record company made at recording a selection was a "take." When one artist or ensemble recorded the same selection multiple times, possibly over a span of many years or even decades, all these recordings were identified by the same master, or matrix, number but were assigned consecutive take numbers. For example, Arthur Pryor's Band recorded "The forge in the forest" seven times between April 29, 1904, and July 24, 1923, as matrix B-1287, takes 1 through 7. Three of these seven takes, recorded in 1904, 1905, and 1923, were issued by Victor Records; all three performances can be heard and compared on the National Jukebox.
Title descriptor
Record labels and company catalogs often include a description of various types of recordings. This may be a genre (e.g., comic dialogue), a dance tempo designation (e.g., waltz or fox trot), or a descriptive phrase similar to a subtitle (e.g., "Old French folk song"). It is often difficult for catalogers and editors to differentiate a title descriptor from a music subtitle. (Both of these indicators appear as "Other Title(s)" on Matrix detail screens.)
Uniform title
The international library community has built a database of standard titles for musical and literary works. "Uniform titles," as they are called, enable one to locate all versions of a work, regardless of how that work is described on a record label or in a catalog. National Jukebox and DAHR editors consult the Library of Congress Authorities database when editing any classical music work. Uniform titles, as they appear in the National Jukebox, typically include the standard work title, or title of the complete composition, and the movement title or aria name.

An example of use of uniform titles is "Chanson du toréador" from Bizet's Carmen. Record labels of performances of the work represented in the National Jukebox call it by a number of titles, including "Toreador song," "Canzone del toreador," and "Chanson du toreador." Each version of the aria in the National Jukebox is identified by its uniform title, "Carmen. Chanson du toreador." This enables users to find all version of the work under one standardized title. The National Jukebox also cites "Normalized titles." These are standard titles that are not included in the Library of Congress Authorities database but have been added by Jukebox editors and catalogers to assist users in locating recordings.

If a musical work is recorded with instrumentation substantially different from that for it was originally composed (e.g., an opera aria with accompaniment by piano rather than orchestra, or a band arrangement of an orchestral work), "arr." is added to the Uniform title. It is likely that all pre-1925 orchestral and band works were re-orchestrated to accommodate the limitations of acoustical recording. The "arranged" designation is not used to indicate the commonplace editing or arranging done to suit technical limitations of the time.
Victor ledgers
Before January 1, 1911, the Victor Talking Machine Company maintained a number of handwritten ledger books detailing recording sessions. Most early ledgers were organized by artist name and included matrix numbers, takes, recording dates, and titles. Some, but not all, entries included the disposition of each take (master, destroy, etc.) as well as the last names of the composers of musical works. The handwritten ledgers also provide indications of the specific equipment used for each recording, although the exact meaning of some of these notations is unknown. Beginning in 1911, Victor ledgers, identified internally as "recording books," were typewritten and arranged chronologically by recording date. These ledgers include handwritten indications of take dispositions. Other notations in the typed ledgers may include instrumentation of musical groups, names of accompanists, music publishers, and catalog numbers of released recordings. The activities of Victor's field trips to the Caribbean and Central and South America were chronicled by the recordists, by hand, in pre-printed notebooks, or "diaries." Several of the field trip diaries of the 1910s and 1920s are lost.
Work title
National Jukebox cataloging of recorded selections or excerpts from musical, dramatic, or literary works include the name of the longer work from which the excerpt was derived. Example of such "Work titles" are names of operas, musical comedies, and plays.

Glossary adapted from the Discography of American Historical Recordings External.