Pipe-organ.wiki:Composition list style guide

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Lili Boulanger

The following is a guide for recommending how to create a list of compositions for a composer.


This article is written by William and the future administrators of pipe-organ.wiki and is protected. It does not adhere to the reference-based style of the rest of the wiki but instead contains our original thoughts about how composition tables should be created.

This article contains examples of composition lists from real composers. They have been edited for brevity and the references have been removed to not clutter this article's references list. Refer to the articles about these composers for a more up-to-date composition list with references.

See also



The most important information that should be in every composition list is, for every piece (the following should be the columns):

  • The title
  • The incipit
  • At least one reference

The exact title will vary based on situation, this will be explained in more detail shortly. For now, suffice to say the title should be the top-level title of the piece only (example: "Organ Symphony No. 3"). A suite should be contained within one row with the title being the name of the suite.

If at all possible, you should try to add incipits for the pieces you are entering into the pipe organ wiki. Otherwise, please keep this column but leave it empty so that someone else can get to it later.

The names of individual movements should go in the incipits column separated by line breaks[1]. This will lead to a nice structured view between the title and the individual movements (and their incipits).

The reference should be a valid piece of literature that points to the existence of this piece. For example, a book which lists this composition, or an article or other piece of information about it. Note: You should use a <ref></ref> block to write the reference instead of just writing it inline so that it does not take up too much space.

Other additions

For composers who assigned Opus numbers to their pieces, it is a good idea to add an Op. column to the table. This will help declutter the title column and help the user quickly glance down the list to find the correct piece. The same applies for when a composer creates a numbered catalogue of their compositions (such as JA numbers by Jehan Alain). In other cases, a modern musicologist may have assigned numbers to compositions (such as BWV, BuxWV, or K). In this case, you should put this in its own column in the same way.

For lists from all composers, it is a good idea to include a notes column. This column may be blank for all or most compositions, however for a few it may be beneficial to put a little bit of information here that will enhance the understanding of this piece. If it is more than a few words or around one sentence, it may be a good idea to put this in a separate paragraph outside of the list.

For modern composers (those who mainly publish their works), you should include a published column. This includes information about where the piece was published. Think of everything that usually goes in a scholarly citation and remove that which is already shown (composer, title). In other words, the publisher name, a plate ID if any, and year.

For early composers, the best situation may vary. Some composers had many works published, and others didn't seem to have any published works and only survive to the modern day in various hand-written manuscripts and notebooks from back then. In the latter case, you should include a Source column, which lists the manuscript signature (in pipe-organ.wiki <SIGNUM> <SIGNATURE> format using the RISM signum and the library signature. For example: D-B Ms. Lynar B 3) in addition to the page (or folio) number that the piece appears on if at all possible.


Recommended Columns

Considering the above and below guidelines, my recommendation for how to arrange the columns of the composition list (from left to right) is as follows. Remember that this is not a rule and you should modify this for the article you are working on as you see fit.

Early Music

  • Source(s)
  • Title
  • Incipit
  • Notes
  • Ref.

Modern Music

  • Op. or Year or similar
  • Title
  • Incipit
  • Notes
  • Published
  • Ref.

On Order

Sometimes the order that pieces "ought to" be arranged in is obvious, such as when they are given opus numbers or date of composition. In this case, you can use this order. In other times, it will be less clear, such as when an early composer's works can't be dated and haven't been assigned catalogue numbers. In this case, you can feel free to use any order, but feel free to copy the order of works in some edition, or arrange the works by type (praeludium, chorale-based work, etc.) and by key or name.

On Titles

The title column should exactly replicate the title of the piece, but what exactly this is will vary. For modern or published compositions, the title assigned will suffice. For early music, it would be a good idea to re-create the title as it appears on the copy transmitting the piece (not the edited/sanitized version that may appear in a critical works edition). This increases the "factuality" of this composition list.

About Incipits

It is possible that the reference for a piece of music does not include the score (for example, if it is from a list of compositions such as Repertorium Orgelmusik). In this case, you can find the score mentioned (according to the Published column) and write the incipit based on that. In this case, you do not have to make another reference in the Reference column mentioning that this is from the score. Hopefully this fact would be self-evident (especially for people verifying this information).


The following are a few small and basic examples of how to style your composition list.

Early Music

For early music composers, especially those where there are not many works published by them and most works survive in handwritten copies, a table that includes the sources themselves may be the best option.

Organ works by Arnold Matthias Brunckhorst
Source Title Incipit Notes ref.
D-LEm Becker II.2.51 part 5, p.16-19 Praeludium / ex E. m. / A. m. Brunckhorst Prelude
\relative e'' { e16 g fis e dis cis b a g a b a g }

\relative e' { \time 4/2 r8 e g e b'4 c b g a b }
D-B Mus.ms. 30381 No 4 Praludium con Fuga. ex G b. / pedaliter. / di / Mons: Prunth. Prelude
\relative g'' {  \key g \minor r16 g fis g d g fis g c, g' fis g bes,  }

\relative g' { \key g \minor r8 g bes c d d d d | bes8. a16 g8 }
di: Job: Ringk.
Speculative, also attributed to Nicolaus Bruhns

Modern Music

For modern composers who have published most of their works, a table including the year composed or opus number (if available) would be a good option.

Organ Works by Maurice Duruflé
Op. Title Incipit Notes Published Ref.
2 Scherzo
<< \relative g { \key f \minor \time 3/4 \clef bass <g a e'>2 <e g a>4~2 <g a e'>4  } \\ \relative g, { <g c>2.~2.\laissezVibrer } >>
Durand ref...
7 Prélude et Fugue sur le Nom d' Alain Prélude
<< \relative a { \time 2/2 \key d \minor \tuplet 3/2 4 { \clef bass a8 d a a f' a, a bes a } } \\ \relative d, { \tuplet 3/2 { <d a' d>8 r8 r8 } r4 r4 }  >>

\relative a { \clef alto \time 6/8 a8 d a a f' a, a bes a g }
\new Staff \with { \omit TimeSignature } \relative a' { \time 5/4 \stemDown a4^"A" d^"L" a^"A" a^"I" f'^"N" \bar "" }
Durand ref...
12 Fugue sur le theme du Carillon des heures de la Cathédrale de Soissons
<< \relative g' { \clef bass \time 6/8 \partial 8 g8 e4 g8 d4 g8 c,4 b8 e4 e,8 } \\ \relative a, { r8 a2.~2.\laissezVibrer } \\ \\ \relative c' { r8 c4. b a g } >>
Orgue&L 48 (1962)
L'Organiste 50 (1962)
<< \relative ees'' { \key c \minor \time 2/2 ees8 d c4~8 d ees f ges f ees4 } \\ \relative c' { <c g'>2 <f a> <ees bes'> } >>
Written in 1964 Durand 15470 (2001) ref...


For a composer which fits both of these categories (such as an early composer with some published works and others in copies), it may be a good idea to have both types of tables instead of trying to combine them into one.


One of the main reasons that I switched from wvlist (my own website which functioned only as a list of compositions, but was more rigid) to a Mediawiki page is that it allows us to be more flexible with how we display information. However, following these guidelines (which will not cause any problems for more than 99% of composers) will keep a unified feel and help present information in an efficient way. In my opinion, this is the best balance of what information can be concisely presented in a table and what would be better off in writing before or after the table.


Hugo Distler
  1. The adventurous user may find themselves compelled to refactor the table in such a way that each movement within the incipits column is a separate row and all the other columns are stretched using rowspan. Please do not do this, there is no point, and it would be unnecessarily difficult to refactor these tables in the future.