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Personal profile


Jan Herbst (b. 1984) is a popular music scholar, musicologist, music producer and guitar player, and he joined the University of Huddersfield in August 2017 as Lecturer in Music Production. His area of teaching includes Music Production, Computer Composition, Popular Music Studies and Musicology. He is Subarea Head of Musicology, Module Leader for Computer Composition 1 and 2 as well as Desktop Music Production 1 and 2, and the Music and Music Technology Coordinator of Fields – Journal of Huddersfield student research.

Besides his interests in music production and technology, he is deeply engaged in research. He has published more than 40 books, articles, chapters, encyclopaedia articles and reviews, and he is regularly presenting research papers in different countries. In his second book ‘The Guitar Distortion in Rock Music – Studies on Playing and Aesthetics’ [translation] (2016) he explores the significance of distortion for the electric guitar and its far-reaching implications for the instrument’s aesthetics, playability and expressiveness in the context of pop, rock and metal music genres.

Jan was awarded a PhD in Popular Music Education at Paderborn University with the thesis ‘Network Sound – An Educational Challenge of Popular Music’ [translation], which centres on musical, cultural, social and aesthetic aspects of music production and electrified sound. He further received an MA in Popular Music and Media and a combined BA + MEd in Music Education at Paderborn University. Before, he studied Contemporary Guitar Performance at the Munich Guitar Institute and the Los Angeles Music Academy, where he played with Frank Gambale (Chick Corea), Brad Rabuchin (Ray Charles), Ross Bolton (Al Jarreau), Steve Fister (Steppenwolf), Bill Fowler (Pointer Sisters), Joe Porcaro (TOTO, Stan Getz, Madonna) and Philip Bynoe (Steve Vai).

Jan has taught popular music studies, music production, music analysis, empirical musicology, music history and music theory at the Universities of Paderborn, Bielefeld, Detmold and Muenster (Germany). As a professional guitarist, he has also been guitar instructor at music schools and Head of Music at a vocational college.

Jan is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Teaching and Learning (PGCHE).

Jan has presented research papers and published his work in the areas of popular music studies, psychology of music, the art of record production, music technology and music education in the UK, USA, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark and Finland. He is regular peer-reviewer of the IASPM@Journal, The Art of Record Production and Psychology of Music. Furthermore, Jan is editor-in-chief of the upcoming journal Music, Sound and Meaning. He has taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses, as regular member of staff, visiting professor and as guest lecturer, at the Universities of Paderborn, Detmold, Bielefeld, Muenster (all GER) and Bern (CH). His teaching was honoured with the award for outstanding teaching at Paderborn University in 2012 and with a nomination for the Karl Peter Grotemeyer prize at Bielefeld University for outstanding achievements and personal commitment in higher education teaching in 2016. Jan still actively supervises and examines research theses in Germany.

Membership in academic associations:

  • Association for the Study of the Art of Record Production (ASARP)
  • German Society for Music Psychology (DGM)
  • German Society for Popular Music Studies (GfPM)
  • International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM international, UK & I, D-A-CH)
  • International Society for Metal Music Studies (ISMMS)

Research Expertise and Interests

Jan works in the areas of popular music studies, music analysis, systematic musicology and the art of record production. Previous and current research includes:


(2014): Network sound. An educational challenge of popular music [translation]

The book deals with music production in popular music genres. The analyses combine cultural studies, popular music studies, media studies, sound studies, art of record production and philosophical approaches to raise awareness of technologically mediated sound in educational contexts. It presents a methodology of popular music analysis based on the means of technological (re-)production as the centre of the music’s aesthetics, cultural inscription and decoding.

(2016): The guitar distortion in rock music. A study on playability and aesthetics [translation]

The book addresses the significance of distortion for the electric guitar and its implications for pop, rock and metal music genres. The issues among others are aesthetics, philosophical reflections on the interrelationship of music technology and expressiveness, the historical development of rock aesthetics based on the development of the guitar sound, and recording and production techniques. It draws upon methods from music theory, empirical musicology, psychology, acoustics and electronic engineering.

Other projects

  • The role(s) of the music producer
  • The work realities of professional session musicians
  • Heaviness in metal music
  • Teutonic metal and Germanness in power metal
  • Guitar virtuosity and “shredding”
  • Rock and metal guitar riffs
  • Production of the rock and metal guitar sound
  • Genre-specific use of bass drum sounds in EDM
  • Dub reggae
  • Musicians’ usage of and opinions on musical equipment
  • Gear acquisition syndrome
  • Guitar profiling technology
  • History of popular music


Besides theoretical and music analytical approaches, Jan has specialised in empirical methodologies in his postdoctoral work.

Qualitative: discourse analysis, qualitative content analysis, qualitative spectral and dynamic analysis, videography and iconographic analysis, grounded theory (selection).

Quantitative: quantitative content analysis, standardized surveys and experimental psychology, critical test theory, quantitative spectral and dynamic analysis, music information retrieval procedures (selection).

Research Expertise and Interests

  • Popular Music Studies
  • Metal Music Studies
  • Art of Record Production
  • Music Production
  • Music Technology
  • Music Analysis
  • Musicology
  • Empirical Research
  • Guitar

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Research Output

Book Review: Gender Inequality in Metal Music Production by Pauwke Berkers and Julian Schaap

Herbst, J-P., 1 Mar 2020, In : Metal Music Studies. 6, 1

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Dance Article review

  • From Bach to Helloween: ‘Teutonic’ stereotypes in the history of popular music and heavy metal

    Herbst, J-P., 1 Mar 2020, In : Metal Music Studies. 6, 1, p. 87-108 22 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Open Access
  • Empirical Explorations of Guitar Players’ Attitudes Towards Their Equipment and the Role of Distortion in Rock Music

    Herbst, J-P., 1 Oct 2019, In : Current Musicology. Fall 2019, 105, p. 75-106 32 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • Activities

    Institute of Musicology of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Belgrade (Publisher)

    Jan Herbst (Reviewer)
    25 Feb 2020

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication Peer-review

    External PhD examiner at Leeds Beckett University

    Jan Herbst (Examiner)
    17 Jan 2020

    Activity: Examination typesPhD Examination

    Leuphana University Luneburg

    Jan Herbst (Visiting lecturer)
    3 Jan 202011 Jan 2020

    Activity: Visiting an external institution typesVisiting an external academic institution

    German Society for Popular Music (Publisher)

    Jan Herbst (Member of editorial board)
    2020 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial work

    Bern University of the Arts

    Jan Herbst (Visiting lecturer)
    14 Dec 2019

    Activity: Visiting an external institution typesVisiting an external academic institution

    Press / Media

    When the Steel Industry Set the Pace of Music

    Jan-Peter Herbst


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Expert Comment