Theme in MEAD

MEAD is a standard to communicate “rich” metadata about sound recordings, releases and musical works. (PIE is a similar standard for “rich” information about musicians and other parties involved in creating and marketing the music). Two aspects of this rich information about music are the theme and the mood of the music. The way in which theme information is communicated has changed between MEAD 1.0 and 1.1. 

Theme in MEAD 1.0

MEAD 1.0 has three composites for the communication of a theme. All three composites have the same structure: they allow to communicate a DDEX-defined value (e.g. Wedding), or a free-form description and they support to differentiate such information by country — but they have a slightly different meaning:

  • The SoundRecordingInformation composite contains two theme tags (with a cardinality of 0-n): LyricTheme and ProgrammaticTheme. The latter is for the entire recording whereas the former is for the lyrics only;

  • The ReleaseInformation composite contains one theme tag (also with a cardinality of 0-n): Theme; and

  • The WorkInformation composite contains one theme tag (also with a cardinality of 0-n): LyricsTheme.


It is impossible to differentiate whether this information means “good for something” (e.g. a song suited for running to) or “describing something” (e.g. a song about running). This can only be done in MEAD 1.1. 

Theme in MEAD 1.1

MEAD 1.1 has harmonised these three tags and introduced a separation between whether a creation is “good for something” or “describing something”. As a consequence, MEAD 1.1 has two tags Activity and Theme; both tags exist in the three aforementioned composites SoundRecordingInformation,ReleaseInformation and WorkInformation, and they all have the same syntax.

To differentiate whether a theme applies to the lyrics, the melody or both, DDEX has introduced a ThemeType attribute into version 1.1. It can be set to LyricsMelody to LyricsAndMelody.