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Referencing style


30 September 2023

You can reference music and music recordings in APA style. Learn how.


Reference list

Composer, C. C. (Year of copyright). Title of song or work [Song recorded by A. A. Artist or Group]. On Title of the album. Label. (Original work published Year)

Artist, A. A. (Year of copyright). Title of song or work [Song]. On Title of the album. Label.


  • Classical works: The composer is the author. Note in [ ] after the title the individual or group who recorded this version. Provide the publication date of this version and the year of original composition in ( ) at the end of the reference.
  • All other recordings: The recording artist or group is the author.
  • For titles, use sentence case capitalisation.
  • [Music] or another succinct description can be used instead of [Song] for non-vocal works (APA Style Experts [personal communication, February 25, 2020]).
  • If a song has no associated album, omit that part of the reference.
  • Omit details on how you listened to the recording (streaming audio such as Spotify or Naxos; on a CD), but include a URL at the end of the reference if that location is the only means of retrieval, for example for artists who provide music in only one location such as their website.
  • Include side, band or track numbers in the in-text citation if relevant, for example:
    Cormack and Houstoun’s recording of the Sonata in C (Lilburn, 1943/2013, Track 2) takes a fresh approach to ...
  • See also How to Cite a Single Song or Track ReferenceHow to Cite a Music Album Reference and How to Cite an Untitled Music Album Reference (APA Style blog).

Classical work

Lilburn, D. (2013). Sonata in C [Music recorded by J. Cormack and M. Houstoun]. On Lilburn duos for violin & piano. Atoll. (Original work published 1943)


In-text citation: Lilburn (1943/2013) ... OR ... Lilburn (1943/2013)


Music album as a whole

Bruckner, A. (1996). Symphony no. 1 [Album recorded by Chicago Symphony Orchestra]. Decca. (Original work published 1865–1866)


In-text citation: Bruckner (1865–1866/1996) ... OR ... (Bruckner, 1865–1866/1996)


Non-classical work

Davis, M. (1986). Blue in green [Music]. On Kind of blue. Columbia. (Original work published 1962)


In-text citation: Davis (1962/1986) ... OR ... (Davis, 1962/1986)


Sound recordings via Naxos

Bernstein, L., & Sondheim, S. (2002). Somewhere [Song recorded by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra]. On West Side story. Naxos. (Original work published 1957)

In-text citation: Bernstein and Sondheim (1957/2002) ... OR ... (Bernstein & Sondheim, 1957/2002)

Richter, M. (2015). Dream 3 (in the midst of my life) [Music recorded by Y. Numata, B. Russell, & M. Richter]. On From sleep. Deutsche Grammophon.


In-text citation: Richter (2015) ... OR ... (Richter, 2015)


  • If you cannot find the date on Naxos, use n.d. (no date) instead of a year.

These examples of references for published music scores are based on Musical Score References (APA Style website) and guidance from the APA Style Experts (personal communication, February 25, 2020):

Music score

Reference list

Composer, C. C. (Year of Publication). Title of score [Medium]. Publisher.

Milhaud, D. (1928). Trois rag-caprices pour piano à deux mains [Musical score]. Universal Edition.


In-text citation

The Three Rag-Caprices (Milhaud, 1928) were composed a year before the much better-known Création du Monde, and many of the rhythmic and harmonic innovations in the later work can be traced back to these piano pieces.

Mihaud’s (1928) Three Rag-Caprices were composed a year before …

Music score from an anthology or collected work

Reference List

Composer, C. C. (Year of Publication). Title of score [Medium]. In E. Editor (Ed.), Title of anthology ( ed., Vol. , pp. x–x). Publisher.

Mendelssohn, F. (1969). Symphony no. 4 in A major [Study score]. In P. H. Lang (Ed.), The symphony 1800–1900: A Norton music anthology (pp. 281–347). W. W. Norton. (Original work published 1851)


  • Examples of medium include: musical score, choral score, vocal score, study score, orchestral score, libretto, song lyrics, etc.


In-text citation

The Italian symphony has often been included in surveys of 19th-century repertoire, as evidenced by its inclusion in Lang’s seminal anthology (Mendelssohn, 1851/1969).

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