Transcribing LDS music content

What is transcription?

Transcription is the process of transferring text from one format to another. As a transcriber, you will look at a page of music, identify the basic information, and type it into a database called the Music Content Management System (MCMS). You will also quality-check songs that have been transcribed by others. Transcription can be compared to FamilySearch Indexing.

Unlike translation, transcription does not require mastery of a language. What it does require is attention to detail – everything is to be entered as it appears in the published songbook or sheet music. This includes information about authors and composers, copyright notices, verses and choruses, first lines, etc. Each song will be transcribed by one person and quality-checked by someone else.

How to get started

After you have joined the LDS Music Content project, let Samuel know that you would like to help with transcription. He will give you editing rights to a specific language. All transcription and QA work is done on the Music Content Management System (MCMS).

The first time you log in to the MCMS, you will be asked to verify that you've joined the project. Click Verify. Now you will see a list of languages. Although you can view content in any language, you will only be able to edit content in the languages assigned to you. Click on your language and choose a collection to work on.


On the collection page you will see links to the collection indexes, followed by a list of songs with colored labels next to them:

  1. Ready to Transcribe – this label appears when a song is ready to be transcribed.
  2. Transcription in Progress : [username] – this label appears when a song has been claimed and is being transcribed.
  3. Ready to QA – this label appears when a song is ready to be quality-checked.
  4. QA in Progress : [username] – this label appears when a song has been claimed and is being quality-checked.
  5. QA ✓ [username] – this label appears when a song has been completed.

Songs that you mark Ready for QA will be labeled Can’t QA. This indicates that the QA will need to be done by someone else. If a song is edited during the QA process, it will need to be quality-checked again – every change is verified by another person.

Editing a song

On the collection page, find a song that is ready to be transcribed or quality-checked. Click on the song you would like to work on. You will see a box near the top that shows the song's position in the transcription/QA process. Click the "Start Transcribing" or "Start QA" button to claim the song. This will make sure that nobody else edits the song while you are working on it. Then fill in each field or quality-check each field that has been filled in. When you're finished with the song, click "Save," then "Ready for QA."

Detailed instructions for transcribing and quality-checking songs can be found on this page: Working on songs in the MCMS.

Editing the Topics index

If you are working on a book with a topical index at the back, such as a hymnbook or Children's Songbook, you will need to make sure that all the topics are entered into the Topics index on the MCMS. You can work on the topics index at any time, whether or not the songs in the collection have been transcribed.

At the top of the Topics index page, there is an "Add New Topic" button. You will be prompted to provide the name of the topic, songs that are under that topic, and any related topics that are mentioned in the book's topical index. The "Songs" and "Related Topics" fields auto-complete with songs and topics that are already in the collection. Songs in the collection should always appear, but topics only appear if they have already been added. I usually add all of the topic titles first, as a skeleton, then fill in the information for each topic.

You can view an individual topic by clicking on it. There is an "Edit" button on each individual topic page. After you edit a topic, be sure to click Save. Topics follow a transcription/QA process just like songs. Remember, your goal is to match what appears in the printed book, so don't come up with your own topics or related topics.

Editing the People/Sources index

A person is an author, composer, arranger, adapter, translator, or artist of a song. Other sources are books or melodies that the song is pulled from.

When a new person or source is added while editing a song, an entry is automatically added to the People/Sources index. However, if you're working on a full book, you may find it more efficient to fill in the entire People/Sources index before you transcribe any songs. You can flip through each page of the book in a complete PDF or physical copy of a hymnbook and add each person or source to the People/Sources index.

People and sources do not follow the same transcription/QA process as songs and topics because they are quality-checked along with each song. However, it's good to glance through the index to make sure there aren't any errors – duplicates entries, entries that aren't linked to any songs, etc.

At the top of the People/Sources index page, there is an "Add New Person/Source" button. First, choose if it is a person, group, book, traditional, or anonymous source.

For people: Provide the person's given name(s), family name, and suffix (if there is one). The given name field includes first names, middle names, maiden names, etc. If a person doesn't have a first and last name (like "Bernard of Clairvaux," for example) the entire name is entered into the given name field.

For other sources: Write the source's name in the "Source name" field. Book sources do not need to be entered for Children's Songbook songs (because they don't appear in the index at the back of the book).

Here are some examples of book sources from the English hymnbook: Bohemian Brethren’s Songbook / Hymns of the Spirit / Laudis Corona / Lyra Davidica / New Golden Chain, The / Pratt’s Collection / Psalms of Life, The / Pure Diamonds / Southern Harmony / Stralsund Gesangbuch / Thesaurus Musicus

Here are some examples of melody/song/carol sources from the English hymnbook: Dutch melody / English folk song / English melody / French carol / German folk song / Irish melody / Scottish folk song / Spanish melody / Swedish melody / Traditional English carol / Traditional Swedish melody / Yorkshire carol

Editing the First Lines and Titles index

The First Lines and Titles index is filled in automatically as each song is transcribed. To edit a first line or title, you will need to edit the song itself. You can edit a song by clicking on it in the First Lines and Titles index or on the collection page, then clicking "Edit." The First Lines and Titles index should be glanced through to make sure there aren't any errors such as duplicate first lines and titles. It should also be compared with the index in books that have indexes, such as hymnbooks and Children's Songbooks.


We have a Google spreadsheet called Languages (LDS Music) that helps us stay organized.

  • The Typos in Sheet Music tab of the spreadsheet is used to record errors in the published music. Always transcribe songs as they appear in the published book or sheet music, but record errors here so the church music department can address them in the future.
  • The Language Progress tab shows an overview of the languages and collections that are being worked on. Hymnbooks and Children's Songbooks are our highest priorities.

Every morning the latest content is pulled from the MCMS into the beta version of the LDS Music app, which is available to members of the LDS Music for iOS project. When all of the songs in a particular collection have been transcribed and quality-checked, the collection will be made available in the released version of LDS Music. Soon after that, it will be published in Gospel Library, and eventually on the Church music web site.

This page was last modified on 26 November 2018, at 08:30.

Note: Content found in this wiki may not always reflect official Church information.