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5 Last updated 9 October 2020.


Jan Herbst (b. 1984) is a popular music scholar, musicologist, music producer and guitar player who joined the University of Huddersfield in August 2017 as Lecturer in Music Production. He is Director of the Centre for Music, Culture and Identity (CMCI) and the Popular Music Studies Research Group, and is Postgraduate Admissions Tutor for Music and Music Technology.

Besides his interests in the practical aspects of music production and technology, he is deeply engaged in research. He has published more than 40 books, articles, chapters, encyclopaedia articles and reviews and regularly presents research papers in various countries. His published work focuses on the areas of popular music studies, psychology of music, the art of record production, music technology and music education. Jan is a member of several international editorial boards for journals (IASPM Journal, Analitica, Metal Music Studies, Samples) and book series (Beiträge zur Popularmusikforschung, texte zur populären musik by the German Society for Popular Music) and is editor of the Companion series of Cambridge University Press. Jan is a regular peer-reviewer of the journals Psychology of Music, Metal Music Studies, IASPM Journal and The Art of Record Production and reviewer of Routledge’s Perspectives on Music Production book series. He also serves as Treasurer on the executive committee of IASPM UK & I.

Jan received a PhD in Popular Music Education, an MA in Popular Music and Media and a combined BA / MEd in Music Education from Paderborn University. Before that 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 as Guest Lecturer, Lecturer and Visiting Professor at the Universities of Paderborn, Bielefeld, Detmold, Muenster and Lueneburg (all in Germany) and Berne (Switzerland). As a professional guitarist he was also a Lecturer in Guitar Performance (2006-2012) at a music institute and Head of Music at a vocational college (2012-2015).

Jan is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and the Audio Engineering Society (AES) and holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Teaching and Learning (PGCHE). An award for outstanding teaching he gained at Paderborn University in 2012 and, owed to his exceptional achievements and personal commitment in higher education teaching, he was nominated for the Karl Peter Grotemeyer prize at Bielefeld University in 2016 . Jan continues to supervise and examine research theses in Germany. He also is External Examiner at Leeds Beckett University, the University of West London and Deutsche Pop.

Membership in academic associations:

• Audio Engineering Society (AES)

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


(2023): The Cambridge Companion to Metal Music (forthcoming)

Over the last ten years, metal music has established itself as a field of research. This Companion contains a wide range of topics currently under discussion in the relatively new discipline of metal music studies. With six sections on Identity, Activities, Technology, History, Modern Genres and Global Metal, it introduces the interested reader – from student, metal fan to academic – to key issues of the music and its culture. Due to its differently themed sections, disciplinary breadth across the chapters ranges from musicology, music technology, media and communication studies, leisure studies, youth studies, religious studies, classical studies, history, sociology, art and design to Scandinavian and African studies. This range of approaches and methodologies reflects the discipline of metal music studies and makes the Cambridge Companion the ideal textbook for reference and teaching in various courses situated of diverse disciplines.

(2021): Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Consumption of Instruments and Technology in Popular Music (forthcoming)

This book is about the so-called ‘Gear Acquisition Syndrome’ (GAS). It explores GAS as a pronounced interest in musical equipment, combined with a desire to acquire and possess certain items, potentially leading to collections of impressive size. This research pioneers in exploring this cultural phenomenon from the perspectives of popular music, music technology, consumer research, sociology, cultural, leisure and gender studies, and psychology.

(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.

(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.

Other projects

• The role(s) of the music producer

• The work realities of professional session musicians

• Heaviness in metal music production

• Teutonic metal and cultural sonic signifiers in music production

• Guitar virtuosity and ‘shredding’

• Rock and metal guitar riffs

• Production of the rock and metal guitar sound

• Musicians’ usage of and opinions on musical equipment

• Gear acquisition syndrome

• Guitar amplification technologies

• 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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