is the study and cataloging of published sound recordings
, often by specified artists or within identified musical genres. The exact information included varies depending on the type and scope of the discography, but a discography entry for a specific recording will often list such details as the names of the artists involved, the time and place of the recording, the title of the piece performed, release dates, chart positions, and sales figures.
A discography can also refer to the recordings catalogue of an individual artist, group, or orchestra. This is distinct from a sessionography, which is a catalogue of recording sessions
, rather than a catalogue of the records, in whatever medium, that are made from those recordings. The two are sometimes confused, especially in jazz
, as specific release dates
for jazz records are often difficult to ascertain, and session dates are substituted as a means of organizing an artist's catalogue.
Another, more recent, definition of discography refers to a collection of musical recordings by a performer or composer, considered as a body of work. For instance, all studio albums by a performer could collectively be considered their discography.
The term "discography" was popularized in the 1930s by collectors of jazz records. Jazz fans did research and self-published discographies about when jazz records were made and what musicians were on the records, as record companies did not commonly include that information on or with the records at that time. Two early jazz discographies were Rhythm on Record
by Hilton Schleman
and Hot Discography
by Charles Delaunay
A compilation of a performer's piano rolls
is called a "rollography."
Notable books of discography
The following books list detailed information on the complete discographies of specific record labels, music scenes or genres.
Allen, Walter C. - Hendersonia: The Music of Fletcher Henderson and his Musicians, A Bio-discography, Jazz Monographs No. 4, Highland Park, N.J.: Walter C. Allen, 1973.
Andrews, Frank - Columbia 10" records, 1904-30. [London]: City of London Phonograph and Gramophone Society, 1985
Arnold, Claude Graveley - The Orchestra on Record, 1896-1926: An Encyclopedia of Orchestral Recordings Made by the Acoustical Process, Greenwood Press 1997
Badrock, Arthur and Andrews, Frank - The "Cinch" Record (September 1913 - January 1916) [London]: City of London Phonograph and Gramophone Society, 2000
Badrock, Arthur - Tower Records (1920-1922) published by the author, Norwich, 2001
Balacco, Thomas - Aussie Vinyl Record Guide published by Hardshell Publishing, 2016 -
Barr, Steven C. - The (Almost) Complete 78 r.p.m. Record Dating Guide. Second ed. [Toronto, Ont.]: S.C. Barr, 1980. 51 p. Without ISBN
Barr, Steven C. - Canadian and Canadian-U.S. Label Numerical Correlations [of] 78 r.p.m. [disc recordings. Toronto, Ont.: S.C. Barr] 1983. 4 p.
Bauer, Roberto - The New Catalogue of Historical Records, 1898-1908/09. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1947. 494 p. SBN (as found in the 1972 printing) 283-48420-9
Brooks, Tim - Little Wonder Records, The New Amberola Phonograph Company 1999
Connor, D. Russell and Hicks, Warren W. - BG On The Record; A bio-discography of Benny Goodman, Arlington House 1969
Daniels, Bill - Disc Dating Guide, 1940-1949. Oak Lawn Books, Providence, R.I., 1981
Dethlefson, Ronald - Edison Blue Amberol Recordings 1912-1914, (2nd Edition) Stationery X-Press 1997
Díaz-Ayala, Cristóbal - Encyclopedic Discography of Cuban Music, Vol. 1 (1898-1925). Florida International University, 2014.
Díaz-Ayala, Cristóbal - Encyclopedic Discography of Cuban Music, Vol. 2 (1925-1960). Florida International University, 2014.
Dixon, Robert M.W., John Godrich and Howard W. Rye - Blues & Gospel Records 1890-1943, 4th ed., Clarendon Press 1997. N.B.: An informative narrative of blues recording activity is Recording the Blues, by two of these authors, i.e. Dixon and Godrich (London: Studio Vista, 1970, 85 amply ill. p.)
Emery, Marc - Jazz [and] Blues Catalog. London, Ont.: City Lights Bookshop, [ca. 1978]. N.B.: Sale catalogue of a large and comprehensive collection of LP discs formerly held by a private collector; there are fairly numerous name and title spelling errors, but it constitutes a good brief-listed discography of the genre
Fagan, Ted and Moran, William - The Encyclopedic Discography of Victor Records vol. 1, Greenwood Press 1983
Fagan, Ted and Moran, William - The Encyclopedic Discography of Victor Records vol. 2, Greenwood Press 1986
Fancourt, Les and Bob McGrath - The Blues Discography 1943-1970, Eyeball Productions 2006
Foreman, Lewis - Systematic Discography. London, C. Bingley, 1974. 144 p. N.B. This is an instructional and style manual to aid its user in mastering or improving a researcher's discographical skills.
Guterman, Jimmy, and Owen O'Donnell - The Worst Rock 'n' Roll Records of All Time: a Fan's Guide to the Stuff [that] You Love to Hate! in series: Citadel Press Book[s]. New York: Carol Publishing Group, 1991. N.B.: Annotated discography.
Haas, Lük - Discography of Eastern European Punk Music 1977-1999, Tian An Men 89, Strasbourg, France 2000.
Hall, Ron - The CHUM Chart Book: a Complete Listing of Every Record To Make the 'CHUM Chart' from Its Beginning on 27 May 1957 through 14 June 1986. Eticobicoke, Ont.: Stardust Productions, 1990. N.B.: On front cover: "CHUM's [radio station] dial 1050, Hit Parade". Without ISBN
Harris, Steve - Film, Television, and Stage Music on Phonograph Records: a Discography. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 1988. ix, 445 p.
Harrison, Max, [et al.] - Modern Jazz: the Essential Records, 1945-1970, a Critical Selection. London: Aquarius Books, 1975. 131,  p. N.B.: Subtitle combined from t.p. and a portion of the cover subtitle statement. This discography is annotated.
Jepsen, Jorgen Grunnet - Jazz Records, 1942-196x, Karl Emil Knudsen 1963-1970
Jones, Mark - Bristol Folk: a Discographical History of Bristol folk music in the 1960s and 1970s, Bristol Folk Publications 2009
Jones, Mark - The Famous Charisma Discography, The Record Press 2010
Jones, Mark - The Saydisc and Village Thing Discography, The Record Press 2010
Kennedy, Ted - Canada Pop Weekly: the Record [according to] "R.P.M." [magazine]. Kelowna, B.C.: Canadian Chart Research, [1992?]. 595 p.
Kennedy, Ted - Charts Canada: "R.P.M." [magazine], the Record. Kelowna, B.C.: Canadian Chart Research, . 293,  p.
Kennedy, Ted - Country Canada: the Record [according to] "R.P.M." [magazine]. Kelowna, B.C.: Canadian Chart Research, [1992?]. 437 oblong p.
Kennedy, Ted - Maple Music: the Record [according to] "R.P.M." [magazine]. Kelowna, B.C.: Canadian Chart Research, . 572,  oblong p. N.B.: "'Maple Music' is [primarily]a listing of every song to enter the national top 40 pop record charts in North America with primary analysis on Canadian charts from 'R.P.M.' [magazine] and 'The Record'."
Koenigsberg, Allen - Edison Cylinder Records 1889-1912, (2nd Edition) APM Press 1987
Laird, Ross - Tantalizing Tingles A Discography of Early Ragtime, Jazz, and Novelty Syncopated Piano Recordings, 1889-1934, Greenwood Press 1995
Laird, Ross - Moanin'Low; A discography of female popular vocal recordings 1920-1933, Greenwood Press 1996
Laird, Ross - Brunswick records: a discography of recordings, 1916-1931, Greenwood Press, 2001.
Laird, Ross & Rust, Brian - Discography of OKeh Records, 1918-1934. By Ross Laird and Brian Rust. Praeger, 2004
Legere, Bill - Record Collectors Guide of Country LPs. Limited ed. Mississauga, Ont.: W.J. Legere, 1977. 269, 25, 29, 2 p., perforated and looseleaf. Without ISBN
Legere, Bill - E[lectrical] T[anscription]s: Transcription Library of Bill Legere. Mississauga, Ont.: B. Legere, . 3 vols., each of which is perforated and looseleaf. N.B.: Vol. 1-2, Country Artists—vol. 2, Pop Artists. Without ISBN
Lyons, Len - The 101 Best Jazz Albums: a History of Jazz on Records, New York: W. Morrow & Co., 1980. 476 p., ill. with b&w photos. pbk
Lyttle, Brendan - A Chartology of Canadian Popular Music, Part Two, 1977 to 1980. Record Research Services, Calgary, [1980?]
Moogk, Edward Balthasar - Roll Back the Years: History of Canadian Recorded Sound and Its Legacy, Genesis to 1930. Ottawa, Ont.: National Library of Canada, 1975. N.B.: In part, also, a bio-discography; the hardback ed. comes with a "phonodisc of historical Canadian recordings" (33 1/3 r.p.m., mono., 17 cm.) which the 1980 pbk. reprint lacks. (pbk.)
Moogk, Edith Kathryn - Title Index to Canadian Works Listed in Edward B. Moogk's Roll Back the Years, History of Canadian Recorded Sound, Genesis to 1930, in series, C.A.M.L. Occasional Papers, no. 1. Ottawa, Ont.: Canadian Association of Music Libraries, 1988. N.B.: The t.p. and fore-matter also in French; supplements the index within E. B. Moogk's book.
Moses, Julian Morton - American Celebrity Recordings 1900-1925, Monarch Record Enterprises, 1993
Propes, Steve - Golden Oldies: a Guide to 50s & 60s Popular Rock & Roll Record Collecting. First ed. Radnor, Penn.: Chilton Book Co., 1975. pbk.
Rockwell, T. Malcolm - Hawaiian & Hawaiian Guitar Records 1891-1960, Mahina Piha Press, 2007
Ruppli, Michel - Atlantic Records, Greenwood Press 1979
Ruppli, Michel - The Savoy Labels, Greenwood Press 1980
Ruppli, Michel & Porter, Bob - The Prestige Label, Greenwood Press 1980
Ruppli, Michel - The Chess Labels, Greenwood Press 1983
Ruppli, Michel - The King Labels, Greenwood Press 1985
Ruppli, Michel - The Clef/Verve Labels, Greenwood Press 1986
Ruppli, Michel - The Aladdin/Imperial Labels, Greenwood Press 1991
Ruppli, Michel & Novitsky, Ed - The Mercury Labels, Greenwood Press 1993
Ruppli, Michel - The Decca Labels, Greenwood Press 1996
Ruppli, Michel & Novitsky, Ed - The MGM Labels, Greenwood Press 1998
Ruppli, Michel, Daniels, Bill & Novitsky, Ed - The Capitol Label Discography, Names & Numbers, 2007
Russell, Tony - Country Music Records; A discography, 1921-1942, Oxford University Press, 2004
Rust, Brian - The Victor Master Book Vol. 2, published by the author, 1969
Rust, Brian - The American Dance Band Discography, Arlington House 1975
Rust, Brian - London Musical Shows On Record 1897 - 1976, General Gramophone Publications 1977
Rust, Brian - British Music Hall On Record, General Gramophone Publications 1979
Rust, Brian and Forbes, Sandy - British Dance Bands On Record 1911 to 1945, General Gramophone Publications 1987
Rust, Brian and Debus, Allen G. - The Complete Entertainment Discography from 1897 to 1942, (2nd Edition) Da Capo Press 1989
Rust, Brian & Brooks, Tim - The Columbia Master Book Discography, Greenwood Press, 1999.
Rust, Brian - Jazz and Ragtime Records (1897 - 1942), (6th Edition) Mainspring Press 2003
Smith, Bente - Cue Track: the Canadian Record & Tape Guide. French trans. [of the introd.] by Inge K. Nielsen. First ed. Winnipeg, Man.: Cue Track, 1980. Without ISBN or ISSN
Sutton, Allan - Cakewalks, Rags and Novelties; The International Ragtime Discography (1894 - 1930), Mainspring Press 2004
Tolley, Trevor - Discographical Essays, Seven Willows, 
Notable online music databases include AllMusic, Discogs (community-built), freedb, Gracenote, MusicBrainz (community-built) and Rate Your Music (community-built).