The Legacy of the Beatles

Research on the legacy of the Beatles and its economic and cultural value for Liverpool is being conducted by a team of researchers from the IPM, the Institute of Cultural Capital (Universities of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores) and the European Institute of Urban Affairs (Liverpool John Moores). Mike Jones (IPM) has contributed research on the cultural value of the Beatles, which included investigating gaps in the current tourism offer and the potential value of the band should these gaps be filled. The resulting report considers additional benefits of being linked to the Beatles 'brand' and their impact on the global reputation of the city.

“Helping Liverpool understand and make best use of its cultural capital is a major aim of the Institute of Cultural Capital and we are excited to be working with colleagues across both Universities and the city on this project.”  (Simeon Yates, Director, Institute of Cultural Capital)

Expanding Approaches to Popular Music Analysis

Many have explored the analytical and theoretical interconnections that popular music shares with classical music, but relatively few studies examine popular music’s connection to contemporary art music. Expanding Approaches for Popular Music Analysis explores the premise that much popular music has either borrowed concepts from 20th and 21st century art music, or developed similar compositional techniques independently. Of course, the connection flows both ways since contemporary art music frequently borrows compositional elements associated with popular music. 

The project stems from work presented and discussed in the popMAC 2013 conference at University of Liverpool, and subsequent dialogue between international scholars whose shared goal is to develop new ways of analysing popular music and art music, using techniques that are either new, or that cross-over from other areas. The findings will be published in a book entitled The Routledge Companion to Expanding Approaches for Popular Music Analysis. Edited by Dr Kenneth Smith (IPM, University of Liverpool), Dr Ciro Scotto (Ohio University), Dr John Brackett (University of North Carolina), and expected in 2017, the book involves contributions from over 30 scholars from across the world.

One consequence of eroding the boundary dividing popular and art music is that techniques developed for the analysis of popular music may offer a fresh vantage point for the analysis of contemporary art music.” (Dr Ciro Scotto

The Beat Goes On

beat goes on.jpg

The Beat Goes On, a four-year project exploring the popular music history of Merseyside, resulted in an exhibition staged at World Museum Liverpool, which ran for 15 months and attracted 478,188 visitors. Led by Sara Cohen and Marion Leonard, the project was based on a partnership with National Museums Liverpool (NML) and the exhibition was curated by Marion during a secondment to NML. Among the many diverse exhibits were 200 items from the IPM Collections and Mapping the Beat, a digital interactive installation produced by Sara and Brett Lashua and supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and English Heritage. The exhibition was accompanied by The Beat Goes Online, an online resource produced by a team of IPM staff and research students, and the book The Beat Goes On edited by Marion Leonard and Rob Strachan.  Read more here...

Musical Film, Memory and Wellbeing

The use of musical film to generate reminiscences and improvements in wellbeing among the over 65s is being explored through this project, which draws on research into Brazilian popular and film music by Lisa Shaw (IPM), and on representations of Liverpool in film by Professor Julia Hallam (Department of Communication). Lisa is currently working with a health centre in Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, to engage people through her extensive research on Carmen Miranda, and on the Brazilian musical comedy tradition known as the 'chanchada', which dominated film production in Brazil in the 1950s and early 1960s. The project began with a pilot study involving a BUPA nursing home in Liverpool:

“We are always looking for ways to help our residents maintain community connections and feel part of the wider city around them – which this project did."  (Ruth Neeson, Activities Coordinator at Rowan Garth nursing home)


Popular Music Heritage, Cultural Memory and Cultural Identity (POPID), a three-year project exploring how histories and memories of popular music shape identity and notions of heritage. Supported by the European Humanities in the Research Area Joint Research Programme, it involved collaboration between researchers in England, the Netherlands, Austria and Slovenia. The England research was conducted by Sara Cohen (Director), Les Roberts (Research Associate) and Gurdeep Khabra (Phd student). It included interviews with those working in music, media, tourism and heritage industries, and with audiences who were invited to create maps of their musical memories. Follow-on projects included a collaboration with the Rotterdam Film festival; the 'Sites of Popular Music Heritage' conference and edited book; the short film 'Pop Goes Heritage'; and IPM project Music, Photographs and Cultural Memory.


The London K-Pop Cover Dance (LoKo) students dancing

The London K-Pop Cover Dance (LoKo) students dancing

The K-Pop phenomena and its reception in Europe is explored by Haekyung Um (IPM) in collaboration with Sang-Yeon Sung (University of Vienna) and Michael Fuhr (Hanover University), and with support from the Korean Foundation for International Cultural Exchange. A monograph based on the research and published by Routledge will examine how K-Pop has taken root in Europe as a new form of cosmopolitan youth culture connected to identity politics, aesthetic desires and entrepreneurial incentives.

Where Light Falls

Performance of Where Light Falls, Firth Hall Sheffield

Performance of Where Light Falls, Firth Hall Sheffield

'Where Light Falls: Songs about Joni Mitchell' involved collaboration between the IPM researcher and lyricist Mike Jones, Argentinean born guitarist Alejandro Sancho and singer Rosie Brown. Together they created a rich biographical body of work in song, exploring the artist's career and complicated personal life, joys and trials, the love she walked away from to fulfil her artistic dreams, her life as a painter, and her conflicts with fame. The project involved a series of live performances (Photos by Tracey Welch)

Pop Nostalgia, Pop Canonization and Korean Music Reality Shows

Supported by the Korea Foundation (2015), this project explores how Korean TV music reality programmes contribute to the revival of Korean popular music of the recent past through performance, mediation and mediatisation. Case studies include 'The Mystery Music Show' (MBC, since February 2015), 'Eternal Classics' (KBS, since June 2011) and 'I Am a Singer' (MBC, March 2011-April 2015). Conducted by Haekyung Um (IPM), the research examines how the resurgence of late twentieth century Korean pop repertoire is connected to nostalgia, and how this shapes the process of pop canonisation and the creation of popular music heritage in the 21st century. Chinese version of Korean music reality shows are also being examined, along with South Korean producers' involvement in Chinese production, in order to examine transcultural flows of Asian media culture and the translocal movement of cultural industry labour.

Collecting and Curating Popular Music Histories

A music memory 'map' produced for the POPID project

A music memory 'map' produced for the POPID project

An eighteen-month project exploring practical and theoretical issues involved with preserving and representing popular music in a museum. The project was directed by Marion Leonard and supported by the Beyond Text programme of The Arts and Humanities Research Council, and involved a partnership with National Museums Liverpool and the V&A Museum in London. The research was conducted by Marion and Robert Knifton and project outputs included the Mixcase exhibition staged at Liverpool’s Victoria Gallery and Museum and featuring materials from the IPM Collections.

Popular Musicscapes

A two-year project examining popular music and urban landscape in order to address topical debates concerning culture, creativity and urban regeneration. The project explored how Liverpool-based musicians engaged with the changing city through archival and ethnographic research, and the use of maps and map-making. Supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the research was conducted by Sara Cohen (Principal Investigator) and Brett Lashua (Research Associate) in partnership with English HeritageNational Museums Liverpool and urban arts company Urbeatz. Project outputs included a digital interactive installation at Liverpool World Museum, commercial audio releases and public performances. Follow-on projects included a community-based film about the African and Caribbean clubs of Liverpool 8 and the Liverpool One project involving the recording and release of an album of original material.


Hallé Orchestra members receiving their Twenty Year Service medals

Hallé Orchestra members receiving their Twenty Year Service medals

A three-month project exploring the Manchester Hallé Archives, a significant and comprehensive but under-utilised collection of documents relating to the Hallé’s history and operation. The project focused on the Orchestra’s activities during the 1943-44 season when there was a dramatic increase in the number of women orchestral players and in audience numbers, changes in repertoire, and performances in non-traditional venues such as dance halls and a circus. It resulted in a virtual exhibition and GPS tour launched to coincide with the Manchester International Festival, and a workshop bringing together music archivists and researchers from across the UK and Ireland. The research was conducted by postdoctoral researcher Jacky Waldock and supported by The Arts and Humanities Research Council. The project was led by Sara Cohen (IPM) in collaboration with Margaret Procter (Department of History, University of Liverpool) and Eleanor Roberts (Trust and Research Manager, Manchester Hallé).  

MUSIC, PHOTOGRAPHS AND stories from the archives

A music memory 'map' produced for the POPID project

Music, Photographs and Stories from the Archives was an experimental, four-month project based on collaboration between the Institute of Popular Music (IPM), the Open Eye Gallery (OEG), a Liverpool-based photography gallery, and Liverpooljazz, an organisation working to raise the profile of jazz performance in Liverpool. One of the main aims of the project was to engage the public in the significant but under-utilised archives of the OEG and the IPM. Based in one of Liverpool’s most prestigious and prominent new developments, the OEG and its photographic archive is positioned at the heart of the city’s regenerated Waterfront. The project enabled members of the public to visit each archive and select materials, some photographic and some audio, that resonated with their lives and personal experience. Working with the project team they then put together a photo story and a music story based on these materials. These stories provided a basis for a modest, temporary display and related concert staged in July 2016 at the OEG where members of the public could engage with them. Throughout the duration of the project ‘stories from the archives’ were broadcast on BBC Radio Merseyside each week and the project also resulted in a short film produced by Áine Mangaoang and Derek Footte, and a Bay TV film documentary.

Led by Sara Cohen, the project was supported by competitive awards from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the University of Liverpool. Other members of the IPM team were Mike Jones, Les Roberts and Áine Mangaoang. 

Twilight City

Twilight City  involved a series of four high profile audiovisual performances paying tribute to Liverpool's potentially overlooked spaces, including industrial and business buildings, the city centre and the suburb. Conducted by Rob Strachan (IPM) as part of the electronic music collective HIVE, each event involved a reworking of familiar sounds and a distorting of familiar sights, and state of the art projected visuals. Read more here...


Pop, Passion and Politics

A project exploring the relationship between music and politics through materials from the IPM Collections. It resulted in an exhibition staged at the Lodge of the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool and comprising 34 specially framed panels. The exhibition was curated by Sara Cohen, Mike Jones and Paul Sillitoe from the IPM. 


Electric Blanket was an interactive digital audiovisual project exploring the memories of sheltered housing residents aged 55 to 80. It explored the process of remembering through physical media such as recordings, photographs and film; the power of sound to solicit memory; and the transience of both memory and media. It involved video interviews and oral histories with the residents, and audio recordings of sounds that were a significant part of their memories. Co-directed by Rob Strachan (IPM) and commissioned by Tennantspin, The Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT) and Arena Housing, the project resulted in a digital archive and an installation at FACT, one of the UK’s leading digital arts institutions.