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How To Refer To Performers

Contact Info: Dan Mitchell

Office: A15
Email: mitchelldan@deanza.edu
Phone: 408.864.8511

Office Hours: Spring

 Monday thru Thursday
  8:50 am - 9:15 am
  11:20 am - 11:45 am
 (other times by appointment)

Office Hours: Fall & Winter

Monday and Wednesday
  8:50 am - 9:20 am
  11:20 am - 11:50 am
 Tuesday and Thursday
  8:30 am - 9:20 am
(other times by appointment)

I frequently see papers that refer to performers and other concert participants in ways that seem odd or inappropriate. With that in mind I would like to share some guidelines and examples with you.

  • Use last names when referring to performers by a single name. If the performer is named Valerie Capers, you should not refer to her as “Valerie” in your paper. That is fine if you are Valerie’s personal friend and you are talking about her with your friends, but in an academic paper you should use her last name.
    • OK: “Capers composed this piece.”
    • NOT OK: Valerie composed this piece.”
  • Refer to the person’s role in the music. If Karen Kamensek is the conductor of the orchestra you may refer to her as Kamensek, as Ms. Kamensek, or as the conductor, the director, or perhaps as the maestro. A featured musician might be referred to as “the soloist” or similar. (Below I’ll go over how to refer to them by instrument or voice.)
    • OK: “Kamesek conducted the orchestra.” “The conductor walked onstage.” The director gave the cue to the soloist to begin.”  “The maestro came onto the stage.” “The soloist began very softly.” “The ensemble began together.”
  • Along the same lines it is sometimes fine to refer to the person by using the name of their instrument or their voice range:
    • OK: “The piano introduced the first theme.” The tenor entered after the choir came in.” “The trombones played a loud chord.” “The music began with the woodwinds playing softly.”
  • Rather than referring to the instrument or voice itself you may use the term for a person who plays the instrument or sings in a particular voice.
    • OK: “The organist played soft notes in the background.” “The singers held a long and high-pitched note.” “Next a new melody was introduced by the violins.”

Contact Info: Dan Mitchell

Office: A15
Email: mitchelldan@deanza.edu
Phone: 408.864.8511

Office Hours: Spring

 Monday thru Thursday
  8:50 am - 9:15 am
  11:20 am - 11:45 am
 (other times by appointment)

Office Hours: Fall & Winter

Monday and Wednesday
  8:50 am - 9:20 am
  11:20 am - 11:50 am
 Tuesday and Thursday
  8:30 am - 9:20 am
(other times by appointment)
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