Jan Herbst

Jan Herbst
University of Huddersfield · Department of Music and Music Technology

Doctor of Philosophy

About

81
Publications
37,216
Reads
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142
Citations
Introduction
Jan Herbst currently works at the Department of Music and Drama, University of Huddersfield, UK. His main research interests are music production and popular music studies (rock and metal music in particular), often approached from an empirical perspective informed by musicology, sociology and psychology. Current projects look at: Guitar in rock and metal music, Gear Acquisition Syndrome, German/Teutonic Metal, Professional roles in the recording industry
Additional affiliations
October 2017 - present
University of the Arts Berne
Position
  • Lecturer
August 2017 - present
University of Huddersfield
Position
  • Lecturer
October 2015 - August 2017
Bielefeld University
Position
  • Professor
Education
October 2013 - October 2014
University of Paderborn
Field of study
  • Popular Music & Media
February 2012 - August 2015
University of Paderborn
Field of study
  • Higher Education
May 2011 - May 2014
University of Paderborn
Field of study
  • Music Pedagogy

Publications

Publications (81)
Article
Full-text available
Metal music studies defines "heaviness" as the genre's sonic signature but has rarely explored the sonics or the related discourse. This study analyzes message boards to determine how music producers and musicians use the "heavy" metaphor in their discussions. Practitioners' strategies employed to achieve heaviness are scrutinized to learn about wh...
Article
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“Heaviness” has been one of metal music’s defining features in three decades of metal scholarship. Research acknowledged its essential quality, but no comprehensive definition of musical heaviness was developed. This article, therefore, elaborates a preliminary framework of musical heaviness by identifying its constituent production, performance, a...
Article
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Rock and metal music have a complex relationship with the entertainment industries. They rely on commodified products but are also cautious towards the capitalist system with its instrumentalist mechanisms. This article examines early metal music from West Germany in the 1980s with its rock precursors in the 1970s to shed light on the music industr...
Article
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Audio heritage is a relatively unexplored area within popular music studies from a technical production perspective. This research raises awareness of the importance and challenges of audio preservation and provides insights into archiving practices of record labels and producers. Based on interviews with German metal music producers, the article e...
Article
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Viking, Mesopotamian and Hellenic metal; place-based metal labels full of mythology are commonplace in metal music. Focusing on ‘Teutonic’ metal, this article analyses such labels through a collaboration with one of the genre’s primary record producers: Karl Bauerfeind. Reflection on sixteen selected album productions with German, British, Swedish...
Research
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The past decade has seen increased interest in the pedagogical facets of audio engineering, sound design, music technology and related fields. Much of this rising interest in the teaching and learning aspects of sound corresponds to a growing number of institutions offering training options for people interested in the technical, creative, scientif...
Article
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This article explores how the proliferation of affordable digital tools and the availability of specialist knowledge have affected the mixing stage of metal music productions, asking whether a standard methodology is apparent in producers’ use of templates and presets, processing of audio, and choice of tools. Analyzing fifty professional metal mix...
Article
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Viking metal, Teutonic metal, Mesopotamian metal – labels of this kind are common in fan discourse, media and academia. Whereas some research has investigated such labels and related them to the artist’s stage presentation, music videos, artwork and lyrics, there is still a lack from the perspectives of music production and performance as to how su...
Article
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Inspired by claims that metal music production has become standardized, this article draws on interviews with eight internationally recognized producers examining whether a uniform methodology in recording metal exists and where creative freedom remains. The findings suggest that although recordists must abide by electroacoustic laws and metal musi...
Article
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Germany’s premier rock music export Rammstein has been controversial since its formation in 1994. This article analyzes Rammstein’s sonic signature from the perspective of the “art of record production.” It decodes the politics of Rammstein’s sound, which is inextricably linked to the exaggeration of German attributes and the associations attached...
Book
Full-text available
Gear Acquisition Syndrome, also known as GAS, is commonly understood as the musicians’ unrelenting urge to buy and own instruments and equipment as an anticipated catalyst of creative energy and bringer of happiness. For many musicians, it involves the unavoidable compulsion to spend money one does not have on gear perhaps not even needed. The urge...
Article
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Recording studios are shrouded in mystery. Some have become sites of pilgrimage; other studios have been converted into heritage museums. These practices are driven by city authorities, commercial heritage institutions or music fans. This interview study gives a voice to an understudied group: record producers and studio owners as the people in cha...
Chapter
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Article
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Performance and rhythm research has been slow to incorporate the popular music canon. This article takes this into account by pursuing three objectives: Firstly, to explore how modern music production software can support the analysis of recorded popular music performances, for which an analytical toolkit is proposed. Secondly, to raise awareness o...
Article
Ale Trails, where a series of pubs noted for serving real ale and craft beer are linked together along a prescribed route followed either on foot or by bus or train, are now a well-established activity in the UK and beyond. However, in some cases they have become associated with large groups of rowdy drinkers characterised by excessive consumption...
Article
Germany’s premier rock music export Rammstein has been controversial since its formation in 1994. This article analyses Rammstein’s sonic signature from the perspective of the “art of record production”. It decodes the politics of Rammstein’s sound, which is inextricably linked to the exaggeration of German attributes and the associations attached...
Chapter
Germany is home of a vibrant metal music scene. Yet, despite having been one of the very early metal nations with the second largest metal industry of the 20th century, German bands struggled to stick out of the mass of newly founded bands in the 1980s and early ‘90s. With role models such as the Scorpions and Accept, many bands believed they neede...
Chapter
Labels that denote a cultural or regional characteristic are common in the metal music discourse. Based on interviews with five internationally renowned German metal producers, this chapter explores the views of these professionals on the ›Teutonic‹ metal label. It examines what it means to them and how it may influence their practices. The study c...
Article
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In: Samples, 18, 2020: http://www.aspm-samples.de Popular music studies have seen a rising interest in what could be called »sonic signatures«. Based on previous research involving interviews with seminal German producers, this article explores sonic signatures of three of the first metal nations. Producing pastiche mixes – ›Teutonic‹ (German), Am...
Article
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Metal Music Studies, 6(1), pp. 87-108 Throughout the centuries German popular music has caused various foreign reactions from admiration to outright rejection. Sometimes, international audiences perceived it as too ‘Teutonic’, other times this was exactly the reason for appeal. This article traces ‘Teutonic’ features in 400 years of German popular...
Article
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Metal Music Studies journal: Despite being one of the oldest and largest metal nations, little research on metal music from Germany exists. The current article focuses on the formation of the West German power metal scene. This subgenre was one of the first to be played in Germany, and bands such as Helloween, Running Wild, Gamma Ray and Blind Guar...
Article
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Vox Popular issue 2020: Rock aesthetics was a central area of research in early popular music studies. Over time, the focus shifted to other genres and more specific topics, leaving behind outdated arguments on new musical and technological developments in rock music. Théberge (1997) has argued that musical instruments are open to change in the pro...
Article
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Published: Current Musicology, No 103, Fall 2018. Musical instruments are inextricably linked to genres, their players’ attitudes, and practices. Equipment shapes the sound of genres and affects the performer’s expressiveness. This is particularly true for the electric guitar in the genre of rock music where distortion has always had a special rol...
Article
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Research on rock harmony accords with common practice in guitar playing in that power chords (fifth interval) with an indeterminate chord quality as well as major chords are preferred to more complex chords when played with a distorted tone. This study explored the interrelated effects of distortion and harmonic structure on acoustic features and p...
Article
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Metal Music Studies journal: Innovations in music technology have the potential to change practices of music making and to contribute to the development of new forms of music. In 2011, a ‘profiling’ technology was released, capable of copying any valve guitar amplifier and shaping every detail of its sound. Many rock and metal guitarists and produc...
Article
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Among the professional roles in the recording industry, studio musicians have received relatively little academic attention. Who has played on a record and who has developed the rhythms, melodies and fills are secrets that remain hidden behind closed studio doors. Since the little public media available mainly recollects memories of past stars or m...
Article
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Among the professional roles in the recording industry, studio musicians have received relatively little academic attention. The present study explores the work realities of professional studio musicians in Germany, one of the largest music industries in the world, and is based on interviews with six pop musicians; guitarists, bassists, keyboardist...
Presentation
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This cross-national research project pioneers in exploring the so called “Gear Acquisition Syndrome” (GAS) based on an international online survey of musicians (N = 668) about their attitudes towards their musical equipment and instrument collections. It investigates and differentiates musicians’ personal, social and musical motives for the collect...
Article
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This empirical study explores the guitar profiling technology and its consequences for metal music production. After briefly introducing this technology, the article investigates its public reception in reviews and online discussion boards to explore the subjective perspectives. A subsequent acoustic experiment tests the capability of the technolog...
Article
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In metal music studies, “heaviness” has been acknowledged an essential element of the genre. Commonly associated with the distorted guitar, most work on heaviness has concentrated on the instrument’s sound. If respective research considered structural aspects of the guitar riff, then with a special focus on tempo, rhythm, tonality and form. This ar...
Article
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Vox Popular issue 2019: Théberge (1997) has argued that modification of instruments can affect playing practices or even establish completely new playing techniques. The introduction of amplification, and with it overdrive and distortion, marked such a cornerstone in guitar playing history. Research on the electric guitar in blues, rock and metal m...
Chapter
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»Shredding«, the fast and virtuous guitar playing, is a central stylistic element of many rock and metal music genres. Previous research has claimed distortion to increase the guitar's potential as a virtuoso solo instrument but acoustic evidence is still missing. Apart from this academic desideratum, distortion is lively debated in online musician...
Article
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The role of record producers has always been in the state of constant change. Following Howlett (2009) and Martin (2014), this article explores the work realities of ordinary but still professional “studio operators” from the Ruhr Area in Germany. Focusing on studio operators rather than on record producers pays special attention to the economic, m...
Chapter
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Since the exploration of distortion as a means of expression in the 1950s, the electric guitar has become a primary instrument in popular music, especially in rock and metal music. Despite this development, there is little musicological research on the use and perception of distorted guitar chords. This work aimed at exploring the influence of dist...
Chapter
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Article
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’Shredding’, the fast and virtuous guitar playing, is a central stylistic element of many rock and metal genres. A recent empirical study by Slaven and Krout (2016) reported metal guitar solos having become faster over the last six decades, thus indicating that shredding still is common in metal guitar, as argued in earlier literature in rock and m...
Chapter
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In 1996, Steely Dan guitarist Walter Becker coined the term ‘guitar acquisition syndrome’ to describe the guitarist’s compulsive and unrelenting urge to buy and own instruments. As this tendency applies to other musicians as well the term soon became what now is called G.A.S. – Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Although popular music research has emphasiz...
Chapter
Full-text available
In 1996, Steely Dan guitarist Walter Becker coined the term ‘guitar acquisition syndrome’ to describe the guitarist’s compulsive and unrelenting urge to buy and own instruments. As this tendency applies to other musicians as well the term soon became what now is called G.A.S. – Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Although popular music research has emphasiz...
Article
Full-text available
The sound of the distorted electric guitar is particularly important for many metal genres. It contributes to the music’s perception of heaviness, serves as a distinguishing marker, and is crucial for the power of productions. This article aims to extend the research on the distorted metal guitar and on metal music production by combining both fiel...
Article
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Im abschließenden Teil der Reihe werden sowohl die über die vorherigen Stationen erlernten Spieltechniken als auch die erworbenen gitarristisch-musikalischen Kompetenzen in die Praxis übertragen. Ziel ist die Umsetzung des Liedes „Chasing Cars“ (2006) der britischen Alternative Rock Band Snow Patrol in einem Gitarrenorchester, gestützt durch Gesang...
Article
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Distortion as a significant feature of electric guitar playing is indispensable to rock music. Despite its relevance for the genre, distortion has not received much academic attention so far. This article aims at two interrelated issues. Firstly, it analyses physical and psychoacoustic characteristics of guitar distortion. Secondly, the effect of d...
Article
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This article examines learning opportunities of music production tasks by an exemplary unit on dub reggae following an action research approach. It addresses the educational areas of sound design, musical knowledge, analysis and listening skills, taking the sound of dub reggae as starting point for learner-centred activity. The main premise is to a...
Chapter
Full-text available
»Shredding«, the fast and virtuous guitar playing, is a central stylistic element of many rock and metal music genres. Previous research has claimed distortion to increase the guitar’s potential as a virtuoso solo instrument but acoustic evidence is still missing. Apart from this academic desideratum, distortion is lively debated in online musician...
Article
Full-text available
This article examines learning opportunities of music production tasks by an exemplary unit on dub reggae following an action research approach. It addresses the educational areas of sound design, musical knowledge, analysis and listening skills, taking the sound of dub reggae as starting point for learner-centred activity. The main premise is to a...
Book
Das Thema "Verzerrung" fand trotz seiner Bedeutung für die Spielweise und Ausdrucksfähigkeit der Rockgitarre bislang wenig Beachtung in der Musikwissenschaft und Popmusikkulturforschung. Die vorliegende experimentell-analytische Studie begegnet dieser Forschungslücke, indem musiktheoretische und klanganalytische Methoden mit Erkenntnissen aus der M...
Poster
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Obwohl die E-Gitarre seit den 1950er Jahren den Klang der populären Musik prägt, ist der Einfluss der Verzerrung auf die Akkordempfindung bislang kaum erforscht. Die geringe Anzahl bestehender Studien (Einbrodt 1997; Berger & Fales 2005; Lilja 2005, 2015) untersuchte in der Tradition von Helmholtz vor allem die Teiltonstruktur nach Rauheit (Störthe...
Article
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Die Gitarre wird in den meisten Stilrichtungen der populären Musik überwiegend zur Liedbegleitung eingesetzt. Grundsätzlich ist es mit ihr möglich, eine Vielzahl an Akkorden und Akkordverbindungen zu spielen. Aufgrund der standardisierten Stimmung ist das Arrangement der Akkordstimmen nicht uneingeschränkt möglich, sodass gitarrentypische Akkordgri...
Article
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Vorlesungen stehen in der hochschuldidaktischen Diskussion in der Kritik, eine vergleichsweise ineffiziente Form der Lehre zu sein. Die vorliegende Studie unternimmt ausgehend von einem sozialkonstruktivistischen Lernverständnis den Versuch, der passiven Rolle der Studierenden mit kommunikationsanregenden Methoden in einer zweisemestrigen Vorlesung...
Poster
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Vorlesungen stehen in der hochschuldidaktischen Diskussion in der Kritik, eine vergleichsweise ineffiziente Form der Lehre zu sein (vgl. Dubs 2012; Voss 2012). Ein zentraler Kritikpunkt betrifft die passive Rolle der Studierenden, welche diametral der Vorstellung kognitiver Handlungs- und Deutungsautonomie konstruktivistischer Pädagogik und moderne...
Article
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Die Produktionstechniken des Dub Reggae sind in der heutigen Popmusik nicht mehr wegzudenken. Mit modernen Sequenzer-Programmen kann der Dub-Stil produktionsorientiert erschlossen werden.
Article
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Nachdem im ersten Teil der Reihe elementare Möglichkeiten der Tonerzeugung auf der Gitarre mit der Anschlagshand erarbeitet wurden, widmet sich der zweite Teil der Greifhand. Das Melodiespiel auf der Gitarre unterscheidet sich spieltechnisch von dem beispielsweise eines Tasteninstruments. Die Tonerzeugung und die Tonkontrolle sind auf beide Hände a...
Article
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Gitarren üben auf viele Schülerinnen und Schüler eine große Anziehungskraft aus. Die Unterrichtsreihe über mehrere Ausgaben vermittelt Spieltechniken und Grundlagen der Liedbegleitung sowie des Melodiespiels auf der Gitarre. Diese Fähigkeiten können kreativ im Klassenmusizieren genutzt werden und bieten nachhaltige musikalische Lernmöglichkeiten. E...
Chapter
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Since the introduction of electrical recording, reproducing and transmitting popular music in the early 20th century, sound by means of any technologically mediated music has become a central concept in terms of production aesthetics, and the way music is perceived. By the time media technology found its way into the classroom, sound posed wide cha...
Book
Sound avancierte in der Geschichte der populären Musik seit ihrer Elektrifizierung zu einem musikalisch-ästhetischen Leitbegriff mit weitreichenden Auswirkungen auf die Produktion von Musik, die Entwicklung musikalischer Genres und ihre Rezeption. Ausgehend von der Vorstellung eines weitreichenden Netzwerks vermittelt Sound als Oberflächenphänomen...
Poster
In scientific and journalistic texts on music the issue of sound is always present. In German language the term “sound” emerged in the 1970s first as a synonym for timbre, later on other elements got included such as musical genres, artists, compositional aspects and technical means of production. This emergence was a reaction to the increasingly e...
Article
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Jeder Schüler kennt den Soundtrack zum Film Fluch der Karibik, was diesen zum geeigneten Gegenstand einer Unterrichtssequenz macht – im beliebten Original wie in der orchestralen Interpretation des Geigers David Garrett. Letztere zeichnet sich gegenüber dem Original durch eine doppelte Länge, umfassendere Form und abwechslungsreichere Dramaturgie a...
Article
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Die Ballade 18 AND LIFE, einer der erfolgreichsten Songs der Hardrock Band Skid Row, schildert die tragische Geschichte eines Jugendlichen in den Elendsvierteln von Amerika. 18 AND LIFE vereint Dramatik, Eingängigkeit, einen herausstechenden Sänger und eine ausgefeilte Studioproduktion und entspricht dem Zeitgeist des Hardrocks der ausgehenden 1980...
Article
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DON'T STOP BELIEVIN' ist einer der bekanntesten Songs der US-amerikanischen Rockband Journey und erlebt gegenwärtig eine Renaissance in Film (Rock of Ages, Monster), Fernsehen (Glee, Family Guy, The Sopranos) und Videospielen (Rock Band) sowie durch zahlreiche Coverversionen (Glee, Northern Kings, Petra Haden).
Article
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Red Hot Chili Peppers HUMP DE BUMP ist die fünfte und zugleich zuletzt ausgekoppelte Single des Erfolgsalbums Stadium Arcadium (2006) der amerikanischen Funk-Rock Crossover Band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Der Song ist stilistisch am funkbetonten Stil der ersten Alben der Band angelehnt und hebt sich von den rockbetonten und balladesken Stücken von Stad...
Article
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Rosanna Toto ROSANNA ist eines der bekanntesten und erfolgreichsten Lieder der amerikanischen Rockband Toto. Es thematisiert die Erinnerung an eine vergangene Liebesbeziehung. Charakteristisch für den Song sind u.a. der filigrane Schlagzeugrhythmus, das eingängige Strophenriff, der einprägsame Chorus, das durchdachte Arrangement und die aufwendige...
Article
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Formenlehre ist die theoretische Auseinandersetzung kompositorischer Strukturmerkmale, welche man für gewöhnlich mit klassischer Musik in Verbindung bringt. Im Musikunterricht der allgemeinbildenden Schulen lernen die Schülerinnen und Schüler die Fuge, die Sonatenhauptsatzform, das Rondo oder den Aufbau einer Oper kennen und üben sich im Analysiere...

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Projects

Projects (7)
Project
This project is motivated by speculations about the stagnation and demise of the electric guitar and the lacking recognition of advances in guitar playing. By analysing why certain guitarists were recognised and how they developed the instrument, the case is made that playing styles and sounds have continued to evolve to this day, as evidenced by the likes of player Tosin Abasi, Jason Richardson or Yvette Young. The early guitar heroes of the 1960s and ‘70s developed lead guitar styles outside the idioms of the blues. A decade dedicated to the pursuit of speed and progress of playing techniques were the 1980s. Characteristic of the 1990s and 2000s was experimentation with sound effects, seven-string guitars and amplifiers. After the ‘shred boom’, progress in guitar playing was more ‘musical’, bridging styles and genres, drawing inspiration from other instruments and using the new affordances not only for lead guitar playing but above all as a compositional tool. This project systematically explores how virtuosic electric guitarists in search of new forms of expression dealt with the unique characteristics and ergonomics of the instrument, and it will show how some overcame those challenges to advance the music. By combining playing with culture, technology, production, the recording industry and guitar communities of practice, the project will contribute to the understanding of how guitar playing reflects and drives cultural change.
Project
Since Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut album in 1970, metal music has been on a quest for greater heaviness. Although performances have become more extreme, the music’s heaviness has benefited from numerous advances in music technology, facilitating dense walls of distorted guitars and hyperreal drum performances. From cultural and musicological perspectives through to vocational and practice-based production studies, there is a lack of understanding of what heaviness is in a recorded and mixed form. In a music genre that is approaching its half-century of existence, this research is likely to have significant global impact on our understanding of the genre’s fundamental qualities. At present, there is a deficit of music production knowledge and educational material that enables those interested to understand how top producers capture, manipulate and present the various qualities that equate to heaviness. This AHRC funded research project (2020 - 2023) will examine how seven leading metal producers specialising in different subgenres define heaviness, and how they process and control the constituent aspects of heaviness during the mixing of recordings. It will analyse the producers’ understandings of heaviness, their individual approaches, and how the characteristics of the musical material influence their mixing decisions. It will lead to a theory of heaviness derived from systematic empirical analysis. The findings will be published in a research monograph and several refereed articles. All project material including sheet music of the song, the raw recordings, the 7 mix project files, the edited videos of the producers’ sessions and interviews will be available on the project website. The resources provide authentic, first-hand documentation demonstrating the crucial decision-making processes and the techniques involved in high-end metal music production for a full song.
Project
Wacken, Rammstein, Teutonic metal. It is probably safe to say that Germany is a country where metal music enjoys huge popularity. After the genre emerged in the UK and the USA, Germany was amongst the first countries to adopt this new form of music. With German hard rock acts such as the Scorpions and Accept having been successful since the 1970s, metal exploded in Germany in the 1980s and shaped a unique style that is valued and has often been copied by international artists. This work in progress book-sized project investigates the history and the sound of German metal. It identifies key places, musicians, producers and labels, covering many aspects from original approaches to songwriting, performance through to production, ultimately discussing if there is, or has ever been, such as thing as the ‘Teutonic metal sound’ as commonly labelled by the media and public discourse.