Liner Notes

Every student who undertakes a composition/production-based SIP in the Music Department must complete a “liner note” for their album or composition, to be submitted at the time of the SIP hearing (i.e., a minimum of three weeks prior to your intended presentation time.) The term “liner note” comes from the text that was commonly included on the liner which protects a vinyl album. While the form may be unfamiliar to students who came of age listening primarily to digital media, in the previous eras of LP records, cassette tapes, and compact discs the liner note represented one of the primary ways for listeners to learn more about artists, compositions, and musical scenes and histories.

As both note-writer and performer, your goal is not simply to inform, but to guide your listeners towards the experience of the music closest to the ideal that you have in mind as an artist. Your tools to achieve this include various categories of information, some of which must be included in any program note, and some of which should be selected judiciously to guide your audience.

Required Liner Note Information

Your liner notes must include:

  • Titles of the composition
  • Names of the composer (or the relevant musical tradition if composer is unknown) Birth and death dates if applicable
  • Name(s) of all guest musicians/contributors on the track.
  • Lyrics (for original compositions with lyrics.)
  • Your bio.

Additional Liner Note Information

Depending on the types of pieces on your album, you may also include some combination, though not all, of the following types of information: (note that some of the elements below apply only to original compositions, while others would apply only to new recordings of existing works.)

  • A discussion of the inspiration/plan/goal of an original composition.
  • Information about your arrangement or stylistic references for a piece.
  • Significant or notable musical elements to listen for in the music.
  • A discussion of the interpretive choices required of the performers.
  • Relevant biographical and historical facts about the creator(s) of a work
  • Historical and cultural context of a work’s performance or reception
  • Relationship between a specific work and a genre/style/period.
  • A thank you section.

If your production SIP includes performances of existing works, please refer to the “program note” section of the SIP guidelines on citing sources.

SIP Presentation

Your liner notes should be made available in paper copies at your final SIP presentation.