Unwritten: an Oral History of UK Popular Music Studies

Research output: Non-textual outputDigital or Visual Products


This project is the pilot set of oral history recordings of a ‘hidden academic history’ of the Popular Music field which has been contested (Cloonan: 2005). Whilst written histories exist, the nuances of the debates and reflections of the organisation of key bodies (such as IASPM), journals (such as Popular Music), commissions of key works (Ashgate Popular & Folk Music) and the key figures initiating the discipline have not been captured. Behind scholarly texts in the public domain are the memories of those involved in the discipline’s evolution. Capturing, curating, preserving and disseminating these testimonies will make visible this ‘hidden [academic] history’ (Rowbotham, 1973: 4) and has not been undertaken in any other country. The British Library holds a small oral history set of 24 recordings of interviews with popular music journalists and industry players in their sound archive undertaken by Dave Laing (2010-14), called ‘Unsung - an Oral History of the UK Music Business’. This project uses the same approach, providing a pilot study as the first stage submission of a larger piece of research. The British Library and the University are seeking further funding to support an extension of the work. This project represents a proof of concept and the scoping stages of the next iteration of research. The British Library’s Sound Archive will support recording, archiving/storage and making the materials accessible. As collaborators, the British Library leads the way for digital archiving, and also steer the Popular Music History journal.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherBritish Library
Media of outputOnline
Size5 recordings
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 6 Dec 2019

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