Library of Congress >> MARC >> Bibliographic >> 01X-09X >> 048

048 - Number of Musical Instruments or Voices Code (R)

MARC 21 Bibliographic - Full
October 2006

First Indicator
# - Undefined

Second Indicator
Source of code
# - MARC code
7 - Source specified in subfield $2

Subfield Codes
$a - Performer or ensemble (R)
$b - Soloist (R)
$2 - Source of code (NR)
$8 - Field link and sequence number (R)


Two-character code that indicates the medium of performance for a musical composition. Also contains the number of parts, indicated by a two-digit number immediately following the code for the musical instruments or voices (e.g., va02, a two-part composition for Voices - Soprano). The number of parts may be omitted if not specified.

Codes for the various types of instrumental and vocal combinations are listed in this section. The function of the instrumentalist or vocalist is represented by the choice of subfield code.


Record when medium of performance is stated explicitly or can easily be identified. Field 048 is repeated when more than one medium of performance is stated for a single composition, or when multiple compositions with different instrumentation are being described.

If the medium is not stated explicitly in the item and cannot be inferred, field 048 is not recorded. Types of music for which the medium is not stated include operas, musical comedies, folk-songs, hymns, school song-books, and sound recordings of popular music. In most instances, information in character positions 18 and 19 (Form of composition) in field 008 (Fixed-Length Data Elements) for music, field 047, and subject headings will also provide useful access.

The codes are recorded in score order, and, if possible, the codes for the soloists are given first. Each code may be followed by a two-digit number (01-99) which indicates the number of parts or performers. An exception is made for large ensembles, which are followed by a number when more than one such ensemble is specified.

Special cases

Arrangements are coded for the medium of the work being described, not for the original medium.

A solo instrument which is not accompanied is coded as a performer (subfield $a), not as a soloist (subfield $b).

If the performer plays more than one instrument in a composition, the code for the first named instrument is given. If a principal instrument can be determined, the code for that instrument is given.

For percussion music, whether for a single performer or more than one, the code for the number of performers is given, rather than for the number of instruments.

For monologues, or works with narration, the code for unspecified voice (vn) is given for the speaker or narrator.


First Indicator - Undefined
Undefined and contains a blank (#).
Second Indicator - Source of code
Source of the instruments or voices code used in the field.
# - MARC code
Source of the code is the MARC 21 Instruments or Voices Code List.
7 - Source specified in subfield $2
Source of the instruments or voices code is indicated by a code in subfield $2.
048 #7$bvso01$atth01$atch01$akor01$2[code for controlled list]
[For soprano and continuo group comprised of theorbo, chittarone and positive organ]
048 #7$apcg01$apct01$apxy02$apta01$2[code for controlled list]
[For an ensemble of congas, crotales, two xylophones, and tablas]


$a - Performer or ensemble
Two-character code for a performer or ensemble (from the list below) and, if applicable, a two-digit number specifying the number of parts.
048 ##$aka01$asa01$asc01
[Piano trio.]
048 ##$bvi01$aka01
[For medium voice and piano.]
048 ##$aka01
048 ##$akb01
[For piano or organ.]
048 ##$boe01$aoa
[Concerto for dance band with orchestra.]
$b - Soloist
Two-character alphabetic code for a soloist (from the list below) and, if applicable, a two-digit number specifying the number of parts.
048 ##$bva02$bvc01$bvd01$bvf02$aca04$aoc
[Soloists (SSATBB), Chorus (SATB) and string orchestra.]
$2 - Source of code
Code from: Musical Instrumentation and Voice Code Source Codes.
$8 - Field link and sequence number
See description of this subfield in Appendix A: Control Subfields.
MARC 21 Instruments or Voices Codes
ba Brass - Horn
bb Brass - Trumpet
bc Brass - Cornet
bd Brass - Trombone
be Brass - Tuba
bf Brass - Baritone
bn Brass - Unspecified
bu Brass - Unknown
by Brass - Ethnic
bz Brass - Other
ca Choruses - Mixed
cb Choruses - Women's
cc Choruses - Men's
cd Choruses - Children's
cn Choruses - Unspecified
cu Choruses - Unknown
cy Choruses - Ethnic
ea Electronic - Synthesizer
eb Electronic - Tape
ec Electronic - Computer
ed Electronic - Ondes Martinot
en Electronic - Unspecified
eu Electronic - Unknown
ez Electronic - Other
ka Keyboard - Piano
kb Keyboard - Organ
kc Keyboard - Harpsichord
kd Keyboard - Clavichord
ke Keyboard - Continuo
kf Keyboard - Celeste
kn Keyboard - Unspecified
ku Keyboard - Unknown
ky Keyboard - Ethnic
kz Keyboard - Other
oa Larger ensemble - Full orchestra
ob Larger ensemble - Chamber orch.
oc Larger ensemble - String orchestra
od Larger ensemble - Band
oe Larger ensemble - Dance orchestra
of Larger ensemble - Brass band (brass with some doubling, with or without percussion)
on Larger ensemble - Unspecified
ou Larger ensemble - Unknown
oy Larger ensemble - Ethnic
oz Larger ensemble - Other
pa Percussion - Timpani
pb Percussion - Xylophone
pc Percussion - Marimba
pd Percussion - Drum
pn Percussion - Unspecified
pu Percussion - Unknown
py Percussion - Ethnic
pz Percussion - Other
sa Strings, bowed - Violin
sb Strings, bowed - Viola
sc Strings, bowed - Violoncello
sd Strings, bowed - Double bass
se Strings, bowed - Viol
sf Strings, bowed - Viola d'amore
sg Strings, bowed - Viola da gamba
sn Strings, bowed - Unspecified
su Strings, bowed - Unknown
sy Strings, bowed - Ethnic
sz Strings, bowed - Other
ta Strings, plucked - Harp
tb Strings, plucked - Guitar
tc Strings, plucked - Lute
td Strings, plucked - Mandolin
tn Strings, plucked - Unspecified
tu Strings, plucked - Unknown
ty Strings, plucked - Ethnic
tz Strings, plucked - Other
va Voices - Soprano
vb Voices - Mezzo Soprano
vc Voices - Alto
vd Voices - Tenor
ve Voices - Baritone
vf Voices - Bass
vg Voices - Counter tenor
vh Voices - High voice
vi Voices - Medium voice
vj Voices - Low voice
vn Voices - Unspecified
vu Voices - Unknown
vy Voices - Ethnic
wa Woodwinds - Flute
wb Woodwinds - Oboe
wc Woodwinds - Clarinet
wd Woodwinds - Bassoon
we Woodwinds - Piccolo
wf Woodwinds - English horn
wg Woodwinds - Bass clarinet
wh Woodwinds - Recorder
wi Woodwinds - Saxophone
wn Woodwinds - Unspecified
wu Woodwinds - Unknown
wy Woodwinds - Ethnic
wz Woodwinds - Other
zn Unspecified instruments
zu Unknown


Capitalization - All instruments and voices codes are recorded in lowercase alphabetic characters.


Instruments or Voices codes

In 1980, the second character o (Other) and z (Unknown) instrument and voice codes were changed to z and u, respectively (e.g., bo (Brass-other) became bz; bz (Brass-unknown) became bu).

In 1997, the code pf (Celesta) was made obsolete. [CAN/MARC only]

Indicator 1 - Relationship of performer to work (MU) [OBSOLETE, 1981]
First indicator position definition was made obsolete in 1981. The defined values were: 0 (One performer to a part), 1 (More than one performer to some parts or all parts), 2 (Soloist with type of ensemble referred to in 1 above).
Indicator 2 - Source of code [NEW, 2005]

$2 - Source of code [NEW, 2005]

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