Let's get started...

This week we'll look at some of the key questions that we encounter in the academic study of popular music.


We will look broadly at the idea of music as social practice, as sonic object, how music can be viewed as a social process. We'll consider the ideas like 'pure music', musical canons; musical communities; music as commodity; the role of music in oral histories; how music fulfils various functions (e.g. work songs, dance music).


We'll be considering how these things shape academic approaches to music, and the questions we need to ask.

In the video below, Dr Simon McKerrell introduces some of the different approaches to studying popular music that will be covered in this course.










The first task for this week is to watch the video below in which academics from the field of popular music studies talk about what the subject means for them:





Here are the lecture notes from today's lecture:

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At the bottom of the page is a space for you all to complete your first task, which is say hello, tell us your name and where you're from, and add a couple of sentences about why you are interested in following the course.

On campus students can find the reading for this topic via the reading list on the university website.

Members who are not registered Newcastle University students can find a summary of the readings here on the ispopmus blog Each week we'll be posting about the readings - feel free to respond by commenting on the blog posts.

The essential reading for this week is:

Kassabian, Anahid. (1999) ‘Popular’ in Swiss, T. & Horner, B. (1999) Key Terms in Popular Music and Culture Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., pp.113-123.

Please also take a look at the additional readings...

Clayton, M., T. Herbert, & R. Middleton (eds.). (2003) The Cultural Study of Music, New York: Routledge.

Cook, Nicholas (2000) Music: a very short introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Middleton, Richard. (2006) Voicing the Popular: On the subjects of Popular Music, New York: Routledge.

Hobsbawm, Eric. (1983). “Introduction: Inventing Traditions.” In Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger (eds.), The Invention of Tradition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.1-14.

Seminar Task

(Required for all ICMuS students!)

For students who are attending the seminar on Tuesday 6th October - when you have done the reading please post a question or comment about either the essential reading or one of the additional texts in the discussion space below. These will drive the seminar discussion so it's very important that you engage with the reading and post before coming to class!

Other members, feel free to add your own comments to the discussion.

Good luck!


Here's a recaped video of the lecture with slides: