popular music, cultural history, social history, music industries, live music, instruments and society, music journalism, music and genre, music and sustainability (economic / social / environmental), twentieth century, twenty-first century, contemporary
Please note that Matt will not be teaching during the 2017-18 academic year. Instead, he will serve as an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Leadership Fellow working on “New Directions in Music and Sustainability Research.” Visit the project’s website for more details.
Matt Brennan specialises in the interdisciplinary field of popular music studies. His creative practice as a musician informs his teaching and research, which also draws from historical, sociological, business, and ethical approaches to understanding music in society.
Matt is interested in supervising PhD students in all areas of popular music studies, including (but not limited to) history, the music industries, live music, musical instruments and society, music journalism, music and genre, and the relationship between music and economic / social / environmental sustainability.
In addition to his current fellowship, Matt has also led several AHRC-funded research projects as a Principal Investigator:
Music 2B: Music and Ideas from Romanticism to the Late Twentieth Century
Research Methods in Music
Making Sense of Popular Music
Matt’s current research focuses on three areas: music and sustainability, the music industries, and popular music history.
Music and sustainability
“Sustainability” is an incredibly slippery concept which has migrated from the field of sustainable development and infiltrated the discourse of arts and culture. As a result, the term is now much used (and sometimes abused) by academics, industry lobbying groups, and policymakers to make sense of the creative sector. Matt’s work investigates the relationship between music and sustainability in all its various connotations (e.g. economic, social, environmental), as well as how related concepts (challenges facing musical “ecosystems" in cities, strategies for "resilient" music scenes, etc.) are used in music research.
A dramatic shift has taken place in the music industries away from the record sales-based paradigm that dominated the last half of the twentieth century, and towards a twenty-first century paradigm that places increased value on live performance. Matt's work responds to this shift through an ongoing collaborative project investigating the social, aesthetic, and business dynamics of live music.
Visit the Live Music Exchange, a website and research hub which curates a database, workshops, and mediation services for various stakeholders in live music.
Popular music history
Matt has published on a range of topics pertaining to popular music history. He is currently writing a book on the social history of the drum kit (under contract with Oxford University Press). The study uses the drum kit and drummers - and their fluctuating status in spheres ranging from copyright law to music education - as a lens to rethink how the meanings of everyday concepts such as “musician,” “technique,” “literacy,” “talent,” “collaboration,” and “authorship” have changed over history and up to the present.
Brennan, Matthew, Diljeet Bhachu, Jo Scott, and Graeme Smillie. 2017. A Manifesto For Music Education In Scotland. A Manifesto For Music Education In Scotland. University of Edinburgh.
The Routledge Research Companion To Popular Music Education. 2017. The Routledge Research Companion To Popular Music Education. Routledge.
Brennan, Matthew. 2017. When Genres Collide. When Genres Collide. Bloomsbury Academic.
Brennan, Matthew, Adam Behr, Emma Webster, Simon Frith, and Martin Cloonan. 2016. “Live Concert Performance”. Rock Music Studies 3 (1).
Brennan, Matthew, Gemma Lawrence, and Angela Connelly. 2016. Fields Of Green. Fields Of Green. Creative Carbon Scotland.
Behr, Adam, Emma Webster, and Matthew Brennan. 2015. Edinburgh Live Music Census Pilot Study. Edinburgh Live Music Census Pilot Study. Live Music Exchange.
Brennan, Matt. 2015. “Live Music History”. In The Sage Handbook Of Popular Music. SAGE Publications Ltd.
Brennan, Matt. 2015. “One Is The Loneliest Number: “One-Man Bands” And Doing-It-Yourselves Versus Doing-It-Alone”. In Keep It Simple, Make It Fast! An Approach To Underground Music Scenes, Volume 1. University of Porto.
Behr, Adam, Matt Brennan, and Martin Cloonan. 2014. The Cultural Value Of Live Music From The Pub To The Stadium. The Cultural Value Of Live Music From The Pub To The Stadium. University of Edinburgh/University of Glasgow/AHRC/Live Music Exchange.
Behr, Adam, Matt Brennan, and Martin Cloonan. 2014. “Cultural Value And Cultural Policy”. International Journal Of Cultural Policy.
Behr, Adam, and Matt Brennan. 2014. “The Place Of Popular Music In Scotland’S Cultural Policy”. Cultural Trends.
Cloonan, Martin, and Matthew Brennan. 2013. “Alien Invasions: The British Musicians' Union And Foreign Musicians”. Popular Music 32 (2).
Frith, Simon, Matthew Brennan, Martin Cloonan, and Emma Webster. 2013. The History Of Live Music In Britain, Volume I: 1950-1967. The History Of Live Music In Britain, Volume I: 1950-1967. Ashgate Publishing.
Behr, Adam, and Matt Brennan. 2013. Scotland On Tour: Strategies For Promoting The Scottish Music Industry. Scotland On Tour: Strategies For Promoting The Scottish Music Industry. University of Edinburgh/University of Glasgow/AHRC/Live Music Exchange.
Brennan, Matthew. 2013. ““Nobody Likes Rock And Roll But The Public”: Down Beat, Genre Boundaries And The Dismissal Of Rock And Roll By Jazz Critics”. Popular Music And Society 36 (5).
Brennan, Matthew, and Emma Webster. 2011. “Why Concert Promoters Matter”. Scottish Music Review 2 (1).
Frith, Simon, Matthew Brennan, Martin Cloonan, and Emma Webster. 2010. “Analysing Live Music In The Uk”. Iaspm@journal 1 (1).
Brennan, Matthew. 2008. “When The Horn Fits, Blow It”. In The Body And The Book. Rodopi.
Brennan, Matthew. 2007. “Failure To Fuse: The Jazz-Rock Culture War At The 1969 Newport Jazz Festival”. Jazz Research Journal.
Brennan, Matthew. 2006. “Down Beats And Rolling Stones: The American Jazz Press Decides To Cover Rock In 1967”. Popular Music History.
Brennan, Matthew. 2006. “The Rough Guide To Critics: Musicians Discuss The Role Of The Music Press”. Popular Music 25 (2).