Field definition and scope:

Field 048 contains, in coded form, information that specifies the medium of performance for a musical composition.  This field also contains the number of parts, indicated by a two-digit number immediately following the two-character 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.

The field is repeated when the instrumentation of separate compositions in publications or manuscripts of music or sound recordings is recorded.

MARC 21 Instruments or Voices Codes

The National level record requirement for this field is Optional.

Field 048 is repeatable.

Guidelines for applying content designators:

Field 048 is recorded whenever a statement of medium of performance appears in the uniform title, title, statement of medium note, or subject heading.  Field 048 is repeated when there is more than one medium of performance.  No more than five separate fields are given.

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 songbooks, 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 (Form of Musical Composition Code), 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.

For indicator and subfield code definitions and examples, National-level (NLR) and Minimal-level (MLR) record requirements, and designator repeatability, see table below:






Field 048

Number of Musical Instruments or Voices Code










Undefined; contains a blank










Source of code





MARC code





Source specified in subfield $2









Subfield code:






Performer or ensemble










Source of code





Field link and sequence number




Input conventions:


Content designator history:

First Indicator - Relationship of performer to work  (MU)  [obsolete, 1981]:  This 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), and 2 (Soloist with type of ensemble referred to in 1 above).

Instruments or Voices codes

Codes:  o - Other  [obsolete]

z - Unknown  [redefined]

pf - Celesta  [obsolete, 1997]  [CAN/MARC only]

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].

Second Indicator - Source of code  [new, 2005]

Subfield $2 - Source of code  [new, 2005]

Related MARC fields or documents:

047  Form of Musical Composition Code

Source Codes for Vocabularies, Rules, and Schemes:

Musical Instrumentation and Voice Code and Term Source Codes

See also:

0XX  Numbers and Codes

Variable Data Fields