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December 22, 2011

How to Cite Recorded Music in APA Style (+ Playlist)

Jeffby Jeff Hume-Pratuch


It’s December 22, the date on which I traditionally panic about the holidays. Cards sit unwritten, unaddressed, and unstamped on my desk. Cookies are unbaked, gifts are unbought, and the house is distinctly underdecorated!


But this year I am as cool as a cup of eggnog, for I have come up with the perfect holiday playlist to accompany my last-minute flurry of activity. Don’t tell my colleagues, but certain people may be finding a mix tape in their stockings (accompanied by a reference list, of course—we are the APA Style Experts.)


The Basics
In a previous post, I showed you some examples for citing sheet music in APA Style. The format for a recorded song is similar, but it resembles a chapter rather than a book. The name of the songwriter goes in the author position:

Writer, A. (Copyright year). Title of song [Recorded by B. B. Artist]. 
    On Title of album [Medium of recording]. Location: Label. (Date of
    recording)


So, for example, where the songwriter and performing artist are the same, the reference would look like this:

Baron Cohen, E. (2010). My Hanukkah (Keep the fire alive). On 
    Songs in the key of Hanukkah [MP3 file]. Burbank, CA:
    WaterTower Music.

Fuchs, G. (2004). Light the menorah. On Eight nights of Hanukkah [CD].
    Brick, NJ: Kid Kosher.

Lehrer, T. (2000). (I’m spending) Hanukkah in Santa Monica. On The
    remains of Tom Lehrer
[CD]. New York, NY: Rhino.


Variations on a Theme
If the song is recorded by someone other than the songwriter, include the information about the recording artist(s) in brackets after the song title.

Lavin, C. (2003). A Christmas/Kwanzaa/Solstice/Chanukah/Ramadan/
    Boxing Day song [Recorded by C. Lavin & the Mistletones]. On The
    runaway Christmas tree
[CD]. West Chester, PA: Appleseed Recordings.

Page, S. (2010). Hanukkah blessings [Recorded by Barenaked Ladies].
    On Barenaked for the holidays [CD]. London, England: Raisin Records.


If the recording identifies the lyricist and composer, include their roles in parentheses after the name:

Geisel, T. (Lyricist), & Hague, A. (Composer). (1966). Welcome 
    Christmas! On Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch stole Christmas &
    Horton hears a Who
[CD]. New York, NY: Rhino.

Wesley, C. (Lyricist), & Mendelssohn, F. (Composer). (2006). Hark! The
    herald angels sing [Recorded by the Vince Guaraldi Trio]. On A
    Charlie Brown Christmas
[CD]. Beverly Hills, CA: Fantasy Records.

However, it’s not necessary to note the species if performers are non-Homo sapiens:

Bagdasarian, R., Sr. (1962). The chipmunk song [Recorded by D. Seville 
    & The Chipmunks]. On Christmas with the Chipmunks [CD]. Los Angeles,
    CA: Capitol Records. (2002)

Burland, S. (1963). The chickens are in the chimes [Recorded by
    S. Burland, M. Adams, & The Skipjack Choir]. On The chickens are in
    the chimes
[Vinyl record]. New York, NY: RCA Victor.

Hayes, B., & Johnson, J. W. (1948). Blue Christmas [Recorded by S. Swine
    & The Squeelers]. On John Boy and Billy’s Christmas album [Audio
    cassette]. Nashville, TN: Arista Records. (1998)

Particularly with traditional holiday music, the author may be unknown. In that case, the title of the song moves to the author position:

God rest ye merry, gentlemen [Recorded by Jars of Clay]. (2007). On 
    Christmas songs. Vancouver, Canada: Nettwerk.

I have a little dreidel [Recorded by Sister Hazel]. (2007). On Santa’s
    playlist. Newark, NJ: Rock Ridge Music.


Text Citations
For music recordings, the text citation consists of the songwriter(s) and date, along with the track number (or side and band, for vinyl records):

Lehrer (2000, track 11) noted that East St. Louis was not the optimal 
spot for a celebration of Shavuot.


If the copyright date and recording date are different, use both dates in the text citation:

Bernard, F. & Smith, R. B. (1934). Winter wonderland [Recorded by 
    The Eurythmics]. On A very special Christmas [CD]. Santa Monica,
    CA: A&M Records. (2006)

“Winter Wonderland” (Bernard & Smith, 1934/2006, track 5)


A Very Special APA Holiday
To all of our readers, we wish you happy holidays and a prosperous new year! You can listen to the entire playlist for this article on Spotify at APA Holiday.

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