Journal of World Popular Music, Vol 4, No 1 (2017)

Simone Krüger Bridge, Sarah Baker and Raphaël Nowak

Editors’ Introduction

To open the fourth volume of the Journal of World Popular Music, we present a rich issue that brings together a significant number of scholars working on different areas related to popular music studies in the world, and who offer their expertise from a variety of academic disciplines. We see this issue as further demonstrating the contemporary wealth of research in the interdisciplinary study of world popular music, and the essential work conducted around the globe to shed light upon the vital role that popular music takes in contemporary societies and cultures. Thus, besides the geographical reach of JWPM, which here materializes through the investigations of the processes of production, distribution, dissemination and preservation of popular music in Mali, Madagascar, the Faroe Islands, Finland, Turkey, the US and Hungary, the journal is deeply committed to the publication of research that generates innovative perspectives on different fields and areas of research in world popular music. Issue 4.1 demonstrates this commitment, exploring such current and diverse issues as the role of the internet, the state, identity, citizenship, heritage, museum and archive studies in the construction and circulation of world popular music. The range of contributions featured in this issue of JWPM further posits the journal as an essential outlet for scholars interested in (world) popular music studies, or enthusiasts who wish to hear about and engage in current and cutting-edge debates surrounding popular music forms worldwide.

Issue 4.1 is divided thematically into three sections: Music Industries, Heavy Metal, and Heritage and History, in total presenting three excellent articles, one interview, and engaging reviews that span the virtual, physical and textual (a website, museum exhibition and current book publications), all of which are highly relevant for interdisciplinary and contemporaneous studies of world popular music. The first section focuses on questions related to Music Industries across geographical contexts, and in an age of cultural and technological transformations. Caspar Melville’s article, “Valuing Tradition: Mali’s Jeliw, European Publishers and Copyright”, opens the section on Music Industries, which examines issues of copyright in relation to how Mali’s Mande griots (jeliw) work with European publishers. Based on interviews with jeli musicians and European publishers and others in the world music industry, Melville considers how copyright works for the musical traditions of Africa, and concludes that copyright provides much needed revenue to jeli composers and plays a role in sustaining a vital, but vulnerable, tradition. Melville’s article is followed by Paul Fischer’s review of Steve Collins and Sherman Young’s Beyond 2.0: The Future of Music, a book that will have a long shelf life due to it offering a “broad and detailed historical perspective” which “does not proscribe a specific future” but rather offers “likely paths forward, allowing room for human creativity and agency”. Tom Sykes then turns our attention to a study of “the ways in which international, national and city cultural policy intersects with popular music industries and scenes” in his review of Popular Music Industries and the State: Policy Notes, a book by Shane Homan, Martin Cloonan and Jen Cattermole. Sykes notes “the book is useful…as a comparative study”, in that it offers case studies of Australia, Scotland and New Zealand, “and also as an examination of the current situation regarding popular music policy (at least in the nations studied)”. The final review in this section is from Lauren Istvandity, who offers a selective look at The SAGE Handbook of Popular Music, edited by Andy Bennett and Steve Waksman. Istvandity describes this as arguably “the most comprehensive overview of the field” of popular music since the early 1990s. Many of the chapters which Istvandity includes in her review of the Handbook are directly related to the music industry, such as Peter Doyle’s chapter on “the history of electric amplification”, Kembrew McLeod’s contribution on “issues of authorship, ownership and appropriation”, and Keir Keightley’s chapter on “the history of ‘industrialized’ song-writing”, thus making this review well-placed in this section of 4.1.

The articles and reviews grouped under the theme of Heavy Metal make contributions to heavy metal studies across the globe, including Madagascar, the Faroe Islands and Turkey. The first contribution, an article by Markus Verne titled “‘A Highland Thing’: Heavy Metal and the Construction of Cultural Difference in Madagascar”, serves as an example as to how popular music forms not only travel across the world, but are incorporated and adapted within specific political and cultural contexts. Verne “reads” Madagascar’s heavy metal culture as a reflector of society into which it is embedded, marked by the division into two types of Malagasy population: the inhabitants of the highlands where heavy metal is typically found (“A Highland Thing”) and the inhabitants of the coastline areas. This social division, so argues Verne, undermines political struggles aiming at the creation of a strongly unified Malagasy national and cultural identity. The two book reviews that follow Verne’s article both explore the adoption and experience of metal music in two countries located at the antipodes of Europe—the Faroe Islands and Turkey. Nick Prior reviews Joshua John Green’s book Music-making in the Faroes: The Experience of Music-making in the Faroes and Making Metal Faroese. Prior notes the book “belongs to a tradition of anthropology that draws our attention to the stuff on the ground” and “shines a light on a little known national milieu” by providing “a detailed portrait of the sociality of music practices”, particularly of heavy metal, in the Faroe Islands. Turning our attention to “the experience of metal in Turkey”, Stefano Barone offers a review of Pierre Hecker’s Turkish Metal: Music, Meaning, and Morality in a Muslim Society. Hecker’s book, like Green’s, emerges from a detailed ethnographic study, and Barone concludes it “offers a passionate narrative of struggling individuals” in the metal scene, observing “Hecker’s work is of particular interest in that it illustrates the experience of metal in Turkey, a liminal country that bridges European and Middle-Eastern heritages, in which Islam is a driving cultural force and harsh political vicissitudes have shaped national identity”.

The final theme, Heritage and History, combines multi-media reviews with an article and interview to explore a vibrant, contemporaneous research area in popular music studies. Opening this theme is LDavid Baker and Lauren Istvandity’s article, “I’m Not a Juvenile Delinquent: 1950s Rock’n’roll, Youth under Threat, and Good Citizenship in US Exploitation Cinema, 1956–59”, in which readers are transported geographically and historically to a different place and time, the US jukebox musical from the 1950s. As a format of youth-oriented film based on performances of well-known rock’n’roll artists, Baker and Istvandity explore the way that jukebox musicals shaped not only the portrayal of rock’n’roll, but also its perceived social and moral effects on youth. This is followed by Antti-Ville Kärjä’s review of Sites of Popular Music Heritage: Memories, Histories, Places, an edited collection by Sara Cohen, Robert Knifton, Marion Leonard and Les Roberts which “purveys a many-sided profile of music heritage work and its operational environment”. Collectively, the chapters in the collection go beyond addressing “the obvious question of what constitutes heritage”, to also “stress the importance of asking where, why, whose and when”. A contributor to Sites of Popular Music Heritage, Jez Collins, then provides a review of two websites which are promoting the preservation and archiving of African popular music heritage, Afropop Worldwide and Electric Jive. These websites, says Collins, “provid[e] a space for the lost and hidden voices of African music”, promote “the sharing of vernacular knowledge” and they both demonstrate a “desire to educate and introduce users to a deeper and broader understanding of African culture”. From Africa we then journey to central Eastern Europe with Emília Barna’s review of the first Rock Museum to open in Budapest, Hungary. Barna’s rich description of the museum brings to life for the reader the material culture that can be encountered in the exhibition and the importance of the artefacts to Hungary’s popular music history. In her critique of Budapest Rock Museum Barna reflects on ways in which the museum might develop in the future and hopes that “with time it will manage to transcend the dominant taste in pop-rock music which can be characterized as white, middle-class and strongly masculine”. For now, Barna argues, the museum “does not do justice to the diversity of socialist-era Hungarian pop-rock in terms of style, voices, generations, under- versus overground forms, or gender”. Closing the theme on History and Heritage and issue 4.1 of JWPM as a whole is an interview with Antti-Ville Kärjä, a researcher in musicology and popular music studies based at Music Archive Finland (MAF), about contemporary issues and challenges that music heritage institutions like MAF face. Conducted by Raphaël Nowak, this contribution raises interesting questions about the “what” and “how” of cultural heritage, and about the preservation of popular music heritage in institutions of cultural preservation more generally.

We, the three-strong editorial team, are delighted about the publication of yet another ground-breaking issue of the Journal of World Popular Music, and we hope you too will find the themes and contributions in this issue interesting and relevant, even inspiring, to your own work as a researcher, scholar, academic, educator, enthusiast. Since its inaugural issue in 2014, JWPM has established itself as a dedicated journal that captures the diverse scholarly interests of an ever more vibrant music community with an interdisciplinary interest in the study of world popular music. The success of JWPM owes much to many people, and we thank the international editorial board for supporting it so wholeheartedly. We as editors have benefited immensely from the board’s wide-reaching experience and expertise as well as their enthusiasm for JWPM. Thanks are also due to Equinox who are handling each issue so eloquently and effortlessly.

As always, we encourage you to recommend our journal to colleagues, peers, students, friends and others in your professional and musical networks. You are also invited to email us with your thoughts on this issue or the journal in general, and please do consider the Journal of World Popular Music as a publication outlet for your own research. You may also, of course, take out a subscription to the journal—all royalties will be donated towards charitable causes.


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