In I think we should start allowing the analysis of specific musical works, a broad consensus was reached that we should allow at least some questions of this type.

If we can do the usual posting of, and voting on, suggested criteria here, we can form an agreement on what should - and should not - be allowed/encouraged.

  • This was already discussed here: meta.music.stackexchange.com/questions/854/…
    – Dom Mod
    Mar 3, 2015 at 21:59
  • @Dom I was prompted by meta.music.stackexchange.com/questions/848/… being more active, and specifically the What else is needed to be done for this change to go live? -> Propose specific criteria for determining which questions we do and don't allow. part Mar 3, 2015 at 22:18
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    Still, meta.music.stackexchange.com/questions/854/… isn't necessarily that quick to glance at and see what is/isn't allowed. So if this thread continues in the vein it has started, as a list of individual criteria/suggestions, perhaps it's at least a useful addendum to the answer you mentioned. Mar 3, 2015 at 22:22
  • @Dom also, as we were talking about, we still have the close reason "Questions about transcription or analysis of specific works are off-topic because they are probably not useful to anyone but the asker..." as seen in music.stackexchange.com/questions/30513/…. Mar 4, 2015 at 16:33
  • @Dom Creating this thread was a needed move to make this more official. One mod said that the change was practically on board, and another mod said that it needed more talk, so here we are. Seems that the most popular dynamic is similar to the one you proposed, we should go with that. Mar 4, 2015 at 20:01

7 Answers 7


I think we should only allow analysis questions with appropriate transcription provided in the body of the question.

  • 3
    I'd tweak this to include other evidence when it's appropriate -- analysis of performances would include playing technique that isn't informed by the written music, for example, and so an audio clip would be more appropriate.
    – user28
    Mar 3, 2015 at 18:40
  • That's kind of what I was driving at with the "If the analysis is of a work for which the reference version could be considered to be a recording..." - but maybe I should open up the wording of that one a little. Mar 3, 2015 at 18:58
  • Does "transcription" refers to tablatures and other means like just writing the chords of the song? Mar 4, 2015 at 20:07
  • @JCPedroza yes, that's what I was meaning in this 'option' - so if the question can be asked and answered sensibly with reference to only tab or chord symbols, that's all that would be required. Mar 4, 2015 at 20:42

Accepted analysis questions should go beyond identification. "What chord is being used here?" is too basic. We want questions more like this — "These chords don't fit into the key used in the song due to X, so what function do they have?"

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    For my use case, I'd read any question that would ask "what technique or chord is being used here?" related to piano. As an aspiring pianist it's tough for me to translate what I hear to my playing. While I don't expect Music SE to do full transcriptions for me, it'd be very useful for me to point to a segment of a song and ask how someone is getting that sound, and learn from other people who are also trying to improve their ear training by seeking to understand what more professional people are playing or how they're getting that sound.
    – tarun
    Mar 5, 2015 at 21:17
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    @tarun personally I concur - "what is this chord" is something that would have been so useful to me in my early days of really getting into music. Mar 6, 2015 at 0:33
  • The point of having these criteria, IMO, is so we can focus on questions that are useful to more than just the asker. "What is this chord" type questions are thoroughly unsearchable.
    – user28
    Mar 6, 2015 at 18:33
  • "what is this chord" is an unsearchable title - "What are the chords to Good Life by Inner City" isn't. FWIW I'm not saying I don't see downsides to such questions, but unsearchability can't be a killer reason to disallow all of them... Mar 9, 2015 at 14:27

I think we should only allow questions where the asker has already shown some attempt at their own analysis.

  • It has been noted that this is especially important where the asker is talking about their own composition, as this is where the value to other site visitors will lie. Mar 4, 2015 at 20:53

I think we should allow all questions relating to analysis apart from those violating http://stackexchange.com/legal/content-policy

  • with few exceptions -- what exceptions? The other question has established that we want real criteria.
    – user28
    Mar 3, 2015 at 18:38
  • @MatthewRead This was supposed to be the 'allow everything not obviously daft' option, but I wasn't sure quite how to word it. Have edited... Mar 3, 2015 at 18:53

If the analysis requires listening to a recording, I think we should require a link to that recording, including any relevant instructions as to the timings of the relevant section.


I think we should NOT allow analysis questions where notation is easily available and the answer to the question could be trivially discerned from the notation.


I think we should only allow analysis of works by recognized artists and composers.

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