Riffs - Experimental Writing on Popular Music

Riffs: Experimental Writing On Popular Music is a journal producing popular music research through a variety of mediums and styles.

Riffs - Experimental writing on popular music


Research background

This research emerged from doctoral candidate training developed by Prof. Nick Gebhardt, which took the form of a writing group and in which participants were encouraged to experiment with different techniques, forms and authorial voices.

By exploring ways this work could be disseminated, members of the writing group developed a journal publication, Riffs: Experimental Writing on Popular Music.

The journal is now approaching its eighth issue and has published work from contributors around the world. The research addresses issues related to the production and dissemination of knowledge in popular music studies, and uses a practice-based approach to critically engages with question regarding the form of academic work, how and by whom it is produced, and who has access to that work.

Research aims

This research aims to explore two areas:

  • How can research about popular music be communicated to a number of different audiences?
  • How can that research be made available to those audiences?

In approaching these questions, the research team take an approach that attempted to experiment with and challenges existing and established practice. Popular music research is communicated and disseminated through a number of experimental channels.

This includes the production of work that takes the form of poetry, illustrations, computer code, and outputs such as fanzines, events and training workshops.

How has the research been carried out

The project produces data through the writing and publishing of new work related to popular music. The new writing produced either emerges from the research team, or is gathered from contributors responding to various themes through regular calls for papers.

This writing is then packaged and disseminated in the form of an electronic and print journal published twice a year, or through regular one-off fanzine publications and workshops.  

Outcomes and impact

The research continues to discover new ways that popular music research can be communicated, and continues to explore new means of disseminating that work. The regularly published journal now attracts contributers from across the world, and reaches an audience beyond academia.