This question deals with one of the 7 essential meta questions of every beta that the community should discuss early on during the site's life.

Our FAQ currently reads:

What kind of questions can I ask here?

Musical Practice and Performance - Stack Exchange is for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. Topics include practice & performance, composition, technique, theory, and history.

As a community, we should work together to identify issues specific to our site that should be included in the FAQ.

For reference, the Super User FAQ is a good example.

What kind of questions can I ask here?

Super User is for computer enthusiasts and power users. If you have a question about …

  • computer hardware
  • computer software

and it is not about …

  • videogames or consoles
  • websites or web services like Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress
  • electronic devices, media players, cell phones or smart phones, except insofar as they interface with your computer
  • a shopping or buying recommendation

… then you’re in the right place to ask your question!

Please look around to see if your question has already been asked (and maybe even answered!) before you ask. It’s also perfectly fine to ask and answer your own question, as long as you pretend you’re on Jeopardy: phrase it in the form of a question.

Please follow these guidelines in proposing an item for inclusion in the FAQ:

  • Enter a single bullet you would like to see in the FAQ per answer. This will help the voting process.
  • Specify if your suggestion is on-topic or off-topic.
  • Vote up based on whether or not you agree with the example.

12 Answers 12


If you have a question about …

  • How to take care of your instrument

On-topic: - Questions about musical notation, tablature, interpreting lead sheets


And it is not about : (= off-topic)

  • Who is the best or coolest (singer, rocker, bassist, cellist, pianist, composer, ...)
  • 1
    Good point, such questions are bad subjective. – Tamara Wijsman May 8 '11 at 20:30
  • What about recommendations about or pertaining to (the cultural value of) music or musicians? Maybe reword it to prevent future misunderstandings. – SRiss May 10 '11 at 1:25
  • 1
    @SRiss : I am not sure I understand what you mean. – ogerard May 12 '11 at 17:54
  • I've seen posts closed for subjectivity that weren't asking for "bests" or "coolest" but was asking the answerer to make a judgement on the reliability of the source or the quality of music. When I read this, it makes me think "Don't ask whether David Gilmour or Syd Barrett was the coolest part of Floyd?" It's clear that "Is Prokofiev better than Tchaikovsky?" is off-topic. I don't think it's clear "What are some reliable sources of trombone concertos regarded as essential repertoire from the trombone community?" is off-topic. – SRiss May 13 '11 at 7:59
  • 2
    @SRiss: My opinion is that, if they are carefully phrased, they would not be off-topic but would certainly be community wiki. I would not ask automatically to close such a question as it has a direct relevance to practice and study (choosing a repertoire) but it would require careful moderation to avoid unsubstantiated claims and subjective flame wars. – ogerard May 13 '11 at 8:09

On-topic: - Questions about music theory


If you have a question about …

  • A good technique, a fingering to play a precise part in a musical work
  • 2
    Is there a more general term for this? I'm afraid we're going to get multiple lines similar to this; on the other hand, this is very clear information and could be an example if such general term exists. – Tamara Wijsman May 8 '11 at 20:29
  • 3
    Also, isn't "the best" subjective? There could be multiple ways to play it... – Tamara Wijsman May 10 '11 at 0:34
  • 1
    Replacing "best" with "good" might solve the problem of subjectivity to some extend. (Good subjective questions which can be answered based on experience are not bad.) – user107 May 12 '11 at 17:48
  • @Kaveh, @Tom: what do you think. – ogerard May 12 '11 at 17:51
  • +1: I think it is good. – user107 May 12 '11 at 17:57
  • I agree, nice change. :) – Tamara Wijsman May 16 '11 at 12:06

Off-topic: - Questions about recording and audio (migrate to the Audio and Recording SE site)


And it is not about : (= off-topic)

  • Finding a fellow instrumentist in your area
  • 1
    Good point, there is a close reason for too localized question. – Tamara Wijsman May 8 '11 at 20:31
  • 2
    We had a good question about how to find a teacher, however. Recommendations should be distinguished from that case. – delete me May 10 '11 at 0:59

On-topic: Questions about designing/making your own instruments

  • @Matthew, I guess that should be merged with this one. – user107 May 18 '11 at 2:46
  • Maybe. If they get going and have a strong community, that would be reason to keep it separate. – delete me May 18 '11 at 2:56
  • @Matthew, based on SE guidelines on merging and the merging music proposals question on area 51 I think that should be merged, but even so they let the proposal to continue for sometime and usually don't close them quickly. – user107 May 18 '11 at 3:15
  • I agree with merging that proposal. I have created a merge-request discussion on Area51 on this proposal. – awe Oct 12 '11 at 11:55

On-topic: Questions about instrument care and repair


Off-topic: Song identification.

  • I agree that questions like, "Hey what's this song called" are typically not useful. But the term "Song identification" seem too broad. Different people mean different things by it. Here's an example of 3 different questions which were closed based on "song identification" meta.music.stackexchange.com/questions/731/… where the question was simply asking for some examples based on a well-defined common property that characterised these compositions. – Roland Bouman Apr 28 '14 at 14:13

On-topic: Do questions about reverse engineering compositions fit on this site?

Also covered by What is the tune that goes.., perhaps useful to use this in the explanation or as example.

  • We may need more specific language to address how this is different from song identification, but I agree that this is on-topic for the site. – Hannele May 8 '13 at 13:51

On-topic: Scientific research about music

Here is a question which IMHO is a good example of this kind of questions:


  • -1, that's a horrid question. Regardless of the subject, "Do you have any thoughts about this broad area?" is not acceptable. I also lean towards the opinion that linguistics should not be on-topic. I would be more firmly against it if the Area 51 linguistics proposal moves ahead. – delete me May 18 '11 at 2:53
  • @Matthew, this is about on-topic/off-topic not about reasons for closing like too subjective, too broad, too local, etc (at least as far as I understand). I think the link question is a good example, but are you down-voting this only because of the example or are you against this kind of questions? – user107 May 18 '11 at 3:12
  • I'm aware of what the post is about, but: Both. As I said, I don't think linguistics should be on topic, and I think the example is a bad question. If questions like that are representative of "scientific research questions", then I think scientific research questions should be off-topic. If it's not actually a good example, I would be inclined to consider many musical research questions on-topic. – delete me May 18 '11 at 4:10
  • 1
    @Matthew, I thought it is a good one, but I can try to see if I can find a better example. There are not that many scientific research questions at the moment so it won't be a easy at this point. – user107 May 18 '11 at 4:16
  • Fair enough :). – delete me May 18 '11 at 4:30

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