We've come up with some criteria for allowing analysis questions here: If some analysis of specific works is to be allowed, what are the criteria?

What should the wording of the close reason be for questions that don't meet that criteria? The following had been added:

Questions on technical analysis are off topic unless they are of a specific, complete work, or well defined section thereof, and are substantial, i.e. not a "What key is this song in" or "What time signature is this"

I have deactivated the above because I found the wording a little confusing and it's unclear how it differs from our existing Identification close reason:

Questions about identifying or finding a particular song, style/genre, instrument/equipment, technique, etc. are off-topic since they are rarely useful to future readers.

So, how should we word this close reason? Should we be integrating both reasons into one?

4 Answers 4


In conjunction with Dom's suggestion I would propose the following:

Basic analysis questions, such as "What key is this song in?", are off-topic. Questions should be substantial and refer to a well-defined work or subsection, including a concrete reference (sheet music, etc.).

  • Yeah, that is succinct and straightforward.
    – user16935
    Mar 9, 2015 at 17:36
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    A "what key is this" question has been well-received here: music.stackexchange.com/questions/25074/…, and users here don't seem to have found it very basic.... Mar 9, 2015 at 21:27
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    @topomorto There's a huge difference in asking what keys fit a progression and what is the key of some random song. We also accept questions about why certain chords outside the key make sense. They are analysis at heart as they really don't ask "what", but "why"?
    – Dom Mod
    Mar 10, 2015 at 8:39
  • @Dom I think I understand what you mean, but to me that distinction is not made very clear by the specific wording "Basic analysis questions, such as "What key is this song in?", are off-topic". If you wanted to know what key a random song was in, looking at what key(s) fit its progression is one of the things you would do. If its progression was transcribed in the question, how would then be qualitatively different to the question I linked to? Mar 10, 2015 at 8:46
  • Should we include "recording" as a concrete reference? Mar 10, 2015 at 13:26
  • Is reference the right word? 'Source'? And I agree with @Meaningful - I think more than one example is necessary to extrapolate from!
    – Chris
    Mar 11, 2015 at 22:57
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    We could add "recording". "Reference" is not perfect but personally I think "source" is less right.
    – user28
    Mar 12, 2015 at 2:17
  • Reference sounds fine to me in this context. Mar 12, 2015 at 9:13

We could modify the existing identification close reason, but I feel it will get too clunky and lump too many different concepts together that shouldn't be.

While we allow analysis, we do not allow transcription which is sometimes lumped together with analysis. The close reason will look similar to the identification close as a transcription is really identifying and writing down elements of a song, but will speak to more of what we're not looking for in questions that people think are analysis. A close reason I propose to accommodate this distinction is:

Questions about transcribing a particular song including identifying chords, notes, key signature, time signatures, or similar elements are off-topic since they are rarely useful to future readers.

I know this is very similar to the identification close reason, but I don't think lumping the two reasons together will fully reflect the reasons behind the closings of each.

On the scenario where we don't have enough information or there isn't an actual question as alluded to in my post to the criteria I would think closing it as "unclear what you're asking" and linking to the requirements would be enough since questions like that we could answer if the user complies what we need, but probably can't if the user doesn't. I don't think a close reason listing the requirements is really necessary.

  • Good suggestion and distinction, I agree.
    – user28
    Mar 9, 2015 at 16:35
  • Questions about transcribing a particular song including identifying chords, notes, key signature, time signatures, or similar elements are off-topic - I think that's clear....... But might since they are rarely useful to future readers. throw up a bit of a 'huh?' depending on what the song is, how searchably-worded the question is, and so on. Mar 9, 2015 at 21:19

Matthew, the problem of questions about identifying chords, metres, progressions, etc., isn't well covered in the identification close reason, and people tend to argue that they are part of analysis (which is not so when a quick perusal of the score or lead sheet can answer the question), so it is a very good idea to specify this reason with specific regards to analysis or, as Dom suggests, transcription.


If we want people to understand the distinction we are drawing between transcription (not allowed) and analysis (allowed), maybe we need to draw a distinction between

  • Questions that are off topic because they are transcription (with the term transcription being suitably clarified as Dom has done in his answer)

  • Questions that are genuine analysis questions - 'how does this music work' - but should be improved because they have no transcription in the question, no link to a recording, etc.

with questions about identifying a song, genre or instrument potentially being a third category (though I'm not quite sure how to draw the line between some of these, and transcription.)

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