Topic: "recording" ≠ "performance"
I currently have an open edit (http://musicbrainz.org/edit/16672845) that has gotten me thinking about the relationships between performance and recording.
My edit was originally prompted by the MB page for the work "Marquee Moon" (http://musicbrainz.org/work/87c57a43-43 … 82bc0cb92d), which relates it to two "performances." Clearly, I thought, that's wrong. As I noted in my edit, both of those "performances" are the same "performance" in the generally understood sense of the word -- in this case, four people singing and playing instruments in a recording studio.
But PhantomOTO's point, in his note on my edit, is a good one. If the recordings were merged, the work page would look better (at least to me) in that it wouldn't show two "performances" when really, historically, there was only one. But there would be no indication that two different mixes/masters were made from that performance, plus the "Length" column on the new, merged recording page would show two different lengths, which seems confusing.
Most likely I'm going to cancel my edit. If I had to vote right now, after thinking it over, I'd say that "recording," in MB terms, should correspond to the master recording from which copies are made, since those copies -- the tracks on our LPs and CDs, the MP3s on our computers and phones -- are what MB was created to catalog. There would be no way to indicate precisely how those copies relate to the mixes and studio recordings from which they were made, but I don't have a problem with that, since those relationships are not well or widely documented anyway.
But I'd also say that "performance" should NOT be used as a synonym for "recording" on MB. Of course, for many decades, starting with Edison cylinders, the relationship between them was basically 1:1, and in many cases it still is, but in many other cases it's more complicated. A famous example is the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations," which is a three-minute distillation of 94 hours of material recorded in 22 separate sessions over the course of seven months. Or just think about sampling. Compared to, say, the Avalanches' Since I Left You (~3,500 samples), my problem with "Marquee Moon" seems so straightforward it's quaint.
Basically, I'm coming to the conclusion that the term "performance" should not be used on MB, at least not in the structural way it is now. In too many instances, performances are either not properly documented or impossible to separate from the recording process. And performances are not really what MB was created to catalog anyway -- right? If the work page for "Marquee Moon" would just show two "recordings" instead of two "performances," I'd be much happier.
And forgive me if this has all been hashed over already. I did some searching on the forums but couldn't find previous discussions of this.