Track Files Explained

Each of the 2000+ tracks stored in the SHCDA has its own Track File. By ‘track’ we mean one identifiable unit within a recorded event: one introduction; the performance of one poem or prose work; the performance of one song; and so on.

A Track File provides a snapshot of both the individual track as well as information on the event at which it was recorded. The data on each Track File page can be divided into information on:

  1. who is performing on the individual track and what is being performed
  2. date of recording, venue, and attendance
  3. event Annotations (which appear in a pop-up box when you click on the link) and related files associated with the reading (including photos and promotional materials)
  4. Event running order and participants (provided by a link to all tracks included in the event)
  5. secondary bibliographic information (if applicable)

Apart from acting as a snapshot of a particular recording, the Track File also provides the information required to reference recordings you might cite in essays, and when compiling primary and secondary bibliographies of the recordings.

Below is a typical Track File page. Click on the blue icons to find out more about the various sections of the files.

Track File Example

Track File
Dorothy Wordsworth
Ray Givans
Ray Givans
Author(s)/Ed(s). of Publication:
Ray Givans
Tolstoy in Love
Dedalus Press
Location of publication:
Publication Date:
Heaney Centre Lunchbox Event: Ray Givans
Seamus Heaney Centre, QUB, Belfast
Date recorded:
Time of Event:
Approximate attendance:
Recording format:

Explaining the File Code

In the example provided, the file code is . SR.PUB.Givans1.5.mp3. The file code is the unique identification tag generated for each track within the SHCDA. To use the archive effectively, and for the purposes of citation and bibliographic entries, you should understand the various parts of the Code.
Every File Code includes the following information:

[ Classification ] . [ Event Code ] . [ Track # ] . [ File Format ]
using the track file example above, the information breaks down like this:
SR.PUB . Givans1 . 5 . mp3


This identifies what type of event was recorded:

GR. = “Group Reading”. An event that includes readings of literary compositions by more than one performer.

SR.PUB. = “Single Reader. Public”. One person performing literary compositions at a public event.

SR.PRIV. = “Single Reader. Private”. One reader performing literary compositions in private (e.g. in a recording studio). As Version 1 of the SHCDA includes only public performances, these recordings are not yet included. If parameters for inclusion change for subsequent versions of the archive, these recordings might be made available online. A list of these recording is available in Recordings Pending.

You will occasionally come across:
OR. = “Other Recording”. Usually an interview or lecture. Should funding be secured, future versions of the SHCDA will include considerably more material of this kind.

Event Code

Each individual file is part of a larger event. This event has a code that provides part of the Track Files codification.
When deciding on an event code, the aim is to provide just enough information in order that the event might be recognizable from the Event Code.
In the example above ‘Givans’ is the name of the reader who is performing and seems the obvious choice for the Event Code.

When it is likely that MULTIPLE PERFORMANCES by a single author will be recorded for the SHCDA, a number is added to the Event Code.
In the example above Givans1 suggests that there is (or there is likely to be) more than one SR.PUB performance by Givans. In fact, this is the case: the SHCDA includes an event afforded the code SR.PUB. Givans2.

THE YEAR is added to the Event Code if an event occurs annually. For example, the Seamus Heaney Centre hosts an annual summer school, which includes a reading. Therefore the SCHDA houses GR.HeanSumSch07 & GR.HeanSumSch08. (GR.HeanSumSch09 is pending inclusion in the archive.)

Where a series of performances occur over a period of a few nights, or even within the same day, there will be either a number or a letter included in Event Code to distinguish one recording from the other.
For example, The Louis MacNeice Centenary Conference, held at Queen’s in September 2007, staged three evening readings.
These are labelled: GR.MacNeice1, GR.Macneice2, GR.MacNeice3

When there are linked events that occur MORE THAN ONCE IN A YEAR, the month and year will be included in the Event Code.
For example, there was a highly successful series of performances entitled ‘Candle & Mirror’ which occurred over successive months.
So, these event titles are: GR.CandleMAR07, GR.CandleAPR07, GR.CandleMAY07, GR.CandleJUNE07.

Track Number

The track number indicates at what point performed works appear in the of the running order of the overall event. In the SR.PUB.Givans1.5.mp3 example, the number 5 indicates that this was the 5th track in the recording.
The full running order of an event can be obtained by clicking on the Event link provided lower down the Track File page.

Sound File Format.

This indicates in which sound file format the recording is stored in the SHCDA. In the SHCDA, invariably both the original recoding and the stored file are mp3 formatted. (No recordings, to date, were originally WAV formatted.)

Other Track File Explanations

Most of the categories on the File Track page won’t need clarification, but there might be a few instances when a little explanation is required.


(of the individual track, not the event)
The title of the track will be what the reader called the piece when it was performed. Note: titles can change between the time when works are performed and when they are published. Don’t take it for granted that the title of the performed piece is definitely the same as that given the published version.

There are occasions when the performer forgets to provide a title. In the case of noted literary figures, it is usually possible to track the title down. Especially (but not exclusively) with less noted writers, it can be impossible to track the title down. In such cases, the ‘title’ of the performed work will be the first few words of the performed piece and these will be enclosed in quotation marks. For example:
“The big wall I can never climb” (GR.HewittWrkShp08.19.mp3).

Titles of books are included in quotation marks. For example:
extract from “An Aaron Keening” (SR.PUB.McNeillie.3.mp3)
extract from “Last Night’s Fun” (SR.PUB.CarsonFlatLake.11.mp3)

When the title is especially long, it will be shortened. For example:
James Wright’s poem ‘Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota’ (GR.CandleMAR07.15.mp3) is shortened to: ‘Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm’.
Please note, this is another instance of why it is necessary to double-check titles. The full title will need to be included for citations and bibliographic references. The full title can be obtained by listening to the sound file … or with a little research.

When the track is an introduction, a talk, a thank-you, or a question and answer session, then a short summary of the content is offered as the title. As examples:
Horton Introduces MacCarthy’s reading (SR.PUB.PhilMacCarthy.1.mp3)
McGuckian talks on religious division and The Troubles (SR.McGuckian1.10.mp3)
Q. to Kirkham: Who do you read? (SR.PUB.Kirkham.13.mp3)


This indicates either what type of creative composition is performed (poem, prose, music, etc.) or what other type of speech act is undertaken (introduction, thank-you, question and answer, talk, et cetera).

UTR (Uncollected at Time of Recording)

The designation UTR appears when the recorded works are not included in a single-author collection of poetry, or in a prose work. We believe that this is an important designation for SHCDA users and a full explanation of UTR can be read here.

But if a poem was UTR at the time of recording, it is entirely possible that it WAS collected in a single-author publication subsequent to that performance. Keep in mind, therefore, that a track might include both the UTR designation AND secondary bibliographic information.

Also note that if the UTR designation does not exist, the performed composition WAS collected at time of recording. Every effort has been made to trace the secondary bibliographic information.

The SHCDA classifies secondary bibliographic content as the printed source of recorded works. (And commercial releases, in the case of music.) The SHCDA considers its sound recordings to be its primary bibliographic content.


It is important to remember that the performer of the literary composition, or piece of music, is not necessarily the author. There are many instances where a performer performs work by another author or musician. That is why both categories are indicated separately in the Track File.


This is the language in which the creative composition is performed. Please note it is often the case that one track contains more than one language. For example, a poem, or an introduction of a poet, might drift in and out of Irish and English. Where possible, in the case of the bi-lingual readings of poems, the readings have been separated into two tracks.
Please also note that the priority of language designation is given to the actual performance of the composition itself, not to the contextualization of the piece by the performer. That is to say: While the introduction of the performed piece might be in English, if the work itself is performed in another language, it is the performance of the work that dictates the language designation.


Where possible, the name of the translator of a poem, lyric or piece of prose has been provided. Please note that the author who performs a translated work is not necessarily the author of that translation. Where there was no translation, the field is left blank.


When you click on the annotations link provided on the File Page, a pop-up box should appear with information on the event in which this track was performed. The information can include such things as the URL address of the institution who hosted the event, information on recording faults, absentees from the scheduled line-up, unusual occurrences during the reading, and so on.

Event title

This is different from the Event Code in that it is not an abbreviation. The Event Title is a more detailed, yet still succinct, description of the overall event. In the Track File example above, the Event Title is Heaney Centre Lunchbox Event: Ray Givans. (The Event Code is SR.PUB.Givans1)

To facilitate the appreciation of how a single track fits into the overall event in which it was performed, click on the event title to bring you to a list of all tracks included in that one event.

Source of Recording

This is the person, or organization, responsible for the recording and/or for providing the SHCDA with the recording. In the majority of cases, the recordings are made by persons attached to the SHCDA, but there are there are a few recordings that have been donated by those not directly involved with the archive. See a list of donators here.

Secondary bibliographic information

If a performed composition has been published in a single-author collection, or prose work, every effort has been made to locate that publication. The information provided in this section of the Event File should be sufficient to provide a bibliographic reference for the published work. (See Bibliographic Matters for more on both primary and secondary bibliographies.)

Note, however, that the page-location of performed works within secondary bibliographic sources is NOT provided. For those who are new to essay writing, it is important to remember that quoting the published text of a performed work within the body of the essay requires the writer to provide the page reference for that published source.

If, however, you are citing ONLY the performed work (e.g. the sound files stored in the SHCDA), that is quite different. A digital sound recording does not, of course, include page numbers. See Bibliographic Matters for suggestions on how to cite a recording in the body of an essay.

The reasons for not providing the page reference for published sources are two fold. 1) Resources simply would not allow for such a provision of information. 2) It was felt that while it was important to point users in the direction of the published sources of performed texts, it was equally important that users were encouraged to locate and read the published texts.