ParentWork Plugin#

The parentwork plugin fetches the work title, parent work title and parent work composer from MusicBrainz.

In the MusicBrainz database, a recording can be associated with a work. A work can itself be associated with another work, for example one being part of the other (what we call the direct parent). This plugin looks the work id from the library and then looks up the direct parent, then the direct parent of the direct parent and so on until it reaches the top. The work at the top is what we call the parent work.

This plugin is especially designed for classical music. For classical music, just fetching the work title as in MusicBrainz is not satisfying, because MusicBrainz has separate works for, for example, all the movements of a symphony. This plugin aims to solve this problem by also fetching the parent work, which would be the whole symphony in this example.

The plugin can detect changes in mb_workid so it knows when to re-fetch other metadata, such as parentwork. To do this, when it runs, it stores a copy of mb_workid in the bookkeeping field parentwork_workid_current. At any later run of beet parentwork it will check if the tags mb_workid and parentwork_workid_current are still identical. If it is not the case, it means the work has changed and all the tags need to be fetched again.

This plugin adds seven tags:

  • parentwork: The title of the parent work.

  • mb_parentworkid: The MusicBrainz id of the parent work.

  • parentwork_disambig: The disambiguation of the parent work title.

  • parent_composer: The composer of the parent work.

  • parent_composer_sort: The sort name of the parent work composer.

  • work_date: The composition date of the work, or the first parent work that has a composition date. Format: yyyy-mm-dd.

  • parentwork_workid_current: The MusicBrainz id of the work as it was when the parentwork was retrieved. This tag exists only for internal bookkeeping, to keep track of recordings whose works have changed.

  • parentwork_date: The composition date of the parent work.

To use the parentwork plugin, enable it in your configuration (see Using Plugins).


To configure the plugin, make a parentwork: section in your configuration file. The available options are:

  • force: As a default, parentwork only fetches work info for recordings that do not already have a parentwork tag or where mb_workid differs from parentwork_workid_current. If force is enabled, it fetches it for all recordings. Default: no

  • auto: If enabled, automatically fetches works at import. It takes quite some time, because beets is restricted to one MusicBrainz query per second. Default: no