The IPM leads research on a wide range of topics, music genres, historical periods and geographical locations. This research covers the broad spectrum of popular music studies, encompassing music analysis and ethnography, and theoretical and practice-based approaches informed by the disciplines of musicology and ethnomusicology, sociology and anthropology, history and politics, architecture, media and communication studies. 

Support for our research has come from research councils and other funding bodies, including the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Australian Research Council, the Leverhulme Trust, the British Academy, and the Humanities in the European Research Area Joint Research Programme.

We are regularly involved in a wide range of public engagement activities related to our research, including exhibitions and performances, documentary and community-based films, talks and radio appearances, music industry panels and workshops, and publications targeted at non-academic audiences.

The impacts of our research are diverse and include the development of professional practice, particularly that of museum and heritage practitioners, musicians, artists and music entrepreneurs; and the enhancement of cultural life and identity for audiences, and for community and youth groups. 

Research Themes

While they do not capture all of our research, four broad and overlapping themes provide a focus for shared interests: 

Heritage & Place

This research encompasses places of varying scale, from performance venues and museum to cities and nation states. Projects explore the diverse practices through which music is related to place, including the practice of migration, travel and tourism; remembering, curating and archiving; music-making and live performance. We also consider how music and place become attached to identity and notions of heritage and nostalgia.

Industry and Technology

We are concerned with music-making and with music as an industrial process, and various factors influencing it, particularly technology and digitisation, policy and the legal system. The research encompasses projects on music scenes and DIY cultures, the promotion and regulation of live music, and the recording industry. 

Creative Practice

We are interested in research conducted through creative practice as well as research about creative practice. This encompasses projects involving composition, songwriting and studio-based recording and collaboration, as well as those exploring technology and creativity, music-making and vocal performance, and intersections of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity and ageing. Current projects include those on voice and the aesthetic of age, camp and masculinity, women musicians and producers, and British black musicians.  

Analysis & Aesthetics

This research ranges between the technical methodologies of music theory and analysis, and the value and meaning of music within current and historical philosophical debates. We are interested in the nature and structure of the musical object; languages and styles of composition; the modelling and representation of music, especially in relation to cognitive, physical, and affective experience (or mind, body, and emotion).