ISSUE 1 – Volume 1, Issue 1 – February 2017

Guest Editor: Prof Nicholas Gebhardt, Birmingham City University (UK)

“Here are mutes, liquids, aspirates – vowels, semivowels and consonants. Now we see that words have not only a definition and possibly a connotation, but also the felt quality of their own kind of sound.” (Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook). 

ISSUE 2 – Volume 1, Issue 2 – October 2017

Guest Editor: Dr Simon Barber, Birmingham City University (UK)

A song can be about anything

About peace or war, or the sins of industry

Or the discontents of fame, or of obscurity

Or how we first met, on the warmest day

And how I hadn’t planned to love someone until you came

Or how we survived on happiness and sleeping on the floor

Or how you used to love me but you don’t even know me anymore 

– Dan Wilson, ‘A Song Can Be About Anything’ from Love Without Fear

ISSUE 3 – Volume 2, Issue 1 – July 2018 

Guest Editor: Laura Snapes, Deputy Music Editor, The Guardian (UK)

“There is nothing wrong with hating rock critics” – Of Montreal, 2003

ISSUE 4 – Volume 2, Issue 2 – December 2018

Guest Editor: Dr Simon Jones, Middlesex University (UK)

“Playing MUSIC, for me right, it gets some heads together…gets a little TRIBAL thing going on, you know. Get the FREQUENCY up…..Everybody’s on the frequency. It’s always been about that…and EXCITING people and changing their frequency“, Robbo Dread, Birmingham, 2017

ISSUE 5 – Volume 3, Issue 1 – April 2019

Guest Editor: Prof Nicholas Gebhardt Birmingham City University (UK)

In partnership with Ideas of Noise festival, Birmingham.

ISSUE 6 – Volume 3, Issue 2 – November 2019

Issue Editors: Dr Craig Hamilton and Dr Sarah Raine (Birmingham City University, UK)

The fiesta was really started. It kept up day and night for seven days. The dancing kept up, the drinking kept up, the noise went on. The things that happened could only have happened during a fiesta. Everything became quite unreal finally and it seemed as though nothing could have any consequences. It seemed out of place to think of consequences during the fiesta. All during the fiesta you had the feeling, even when it was quiet, that you had to shout any remark to make it heard. It was the same feeling about any action. It was a fiesta and it went on for seven days. – The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway.

ISSUE 7 – Volume 4, Issue 1 – July 2020

Guest Editor: Dr Edmund Hunt, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (UK)

’Technology is something I love and hate at the same time. One one hand the absence of any kind of technology means silence (or an environment of natural sounds which we hear much clearer because of the general silence); on the other hand, you need technology to make art’. – Christina Kubisch, ‘Artists’ Statements II: Christina Kubisch’, in The Cambridge Companion to Electronic Music, ed. by Nick Collins and Julio d’Escriván, 2nd edn (Cambridge. Cambridge University Press, 2017:176)

ISSUE 8 – Volume 4, Issue 2 – December 2020

Guest Editor: Dr Edmund Hunt, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (UK)

ISSUE 9 – Volume 5, Issue 1 – August 2021

Guest Editor: Dr Ash Watson, UNSW Sydney (Australia)

“Perhaps only imagination, in its full processes, can touch and reach and recognise and embody… There are many other kinds of writing in society, but these now—of past and present and future—are close and urgent, challenging many of us to try both to understand and to attempt them” – Raymond Williams

“Good prose is like a windowpane” – George Orwell

ISSUE 10 – Volume 5, Issue 2 – December 2021

Guest Editors: Shane Blackman and Rob McPherson, Christ Church Canterbury University (UK)

The reader of popular music ethnography is transported and immersed into new and unfamiliar worlds. The sights, sounds, smells, and emotions of making and experiencing music – carefully curated – sow the seeds of critical insights and we step into and through a scene, an industry, a performance, a particular moment in time or an amalgamation of years watching, listening and taking part. For a moment, we are there. We travel with the narrator and are called upon to do our own part of the intellectual labour. We learn to search for clues as we enter into a smokey club or read a very personal recollection of music that was heard last night, last month, last year, during an altogether very different life which, nonetheless, imprinted itself indelibly on the speaker: glimpses of experiences which will shortly become the topic for analysis, comparison and critique. As Sara Cohen advocates in her 1993 article:

“[ethnographic approaches to the study of popular music] should focus upon social relationships, emphasising music as social practice and process. It should also be comparative and holistic; historical and dialogical; reflexive and policy orientated. It should emphasise, among other things, the dynamic complexities of situations within which abstract concepts and models are embedded, and which they often simplify or obscure.”

ISSUE 11 – Volume 6, Issue 1 – August 2022

Guest Editor: Dr Jenny Ann Cubin (independent, UK)

 otobiographies: a posthumous collaboration with jacques derrida

the ear is uncanny

(large or small)

it is the most open organ.

i tell my life to my self

(i recite and recount)

but become what i am

through the ear i borrow

(through the ear you lend).

we proceed

seeking out the edges

(the inner walls, the passages).

these labyrinths come down 

to the ear you hear me with

(to the ear I hear you with).

we recite and recount

and become what we are.

ISSUE 12 –Volume 6, Issue 2 – February 2023

Guest Editor: Dr Iain A. Taylor (University of the West of Scotland)

“What we had thought to be an object was revealed as what I would call a thing. And the thing about things, if you will, is that far from standing before us as a fait accompli, complete in itself, each is a ‘going on’—or better, a place where several goings on become entwined” (Ingold, 2010: 96). For this issue of Riffs, we explore popular music, and popular music culture, as a thing, a ‘going on’ or, better yet, as a place where several goings on become entwined.

ISSUE 13 – Volume 7, Issue 1 – October 2023

Guest Editor: Dr Iain A. Taylor (University of the West of Scotland)

Popular Music Materialities Part II