The Journal


Riffs emerged from a writing group at Birmingham City University, established in 2015 by Nick Gebhardt and supported by the Birmingham School of Media. As popular music scholars, many of the original ‘Write Clubbers’ straddled disciplines: music; sociology; media studies; anthropology; dance. Some felt adrift, on thin ice.

‘Write Club’ offered an opportunity of 2,000 words and the space of a table and eight chairs to explore what it meant to research popular music, to write about it, to construct an argument, a description, a song, a line. Once nerves were finally quashed and it became comfortable to watch another read your work, the writing became better and better until it seemed a crime to keep them under wraps, hidden away from curious eyes on a private blog.

In Riffs, we offer up some of our thoughts and writing in the hope that we will be able to read yours, and that each of us will in some small way change the ways in which we think and write about popular music. Consider this your official invitation to Write Club.

What we do

Riffs: Experimental writing on popular music is an emerging and exciting  journal at Birmingham City University.

We publish written, audio and visual pieces online, providing Open Access downloads. Through the support of the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research (BCMCR), we also publish a limited edition of printed copies.

The editorial board at Riffs work to provide a creative and experimental space for writing and thinking about popular music. As such, we look to publish writing on popular music that question and experiment with the traditional forms of academic research. We also look to forge relationships with writers, festivals, local businesses in the critical consideration of popular music. One of our greatest challenges is to continually change our form and approach as we explore new ideas, topics, collaborations and contributors.

As one of the largest centres for popular music research, Birmingham City University offers a wealth of global networks and potential readership. Our editorial team and further researcher community expand our reach further, with active participation in a range of international research networks to include IASPM, MeCCSA, the the Jazz Research Network, and the AHRC. Through these connections, we aim to develop an international and active readership of postgraduate researchers and academics at all stages of their career.

For further details on organizing advertising space in Riffs or to explore a collaboration, please contact us at info@riffsjournal.org