Tagg’s (mainly) popular music studies bibliography is now the basis of
The IASPM and Fondazione Cini
Popular Music Studies Database
Front page

Please contribute and/or collaborate
Doing nothing produces nothing

Background  • Progress  • Afterthoughts Instructions   • Tagg’s own database

TopBackground explanations

I have taught popular music in tertiary education since 1971. For better or for worse, resources for popular music studies have always been a bit of a mess. That's why, in February 1984, I started a database containing details of relevant literature I came across in my fields of study — particularly the analysis of popular music and of music for moving images. By March 2006 the database contained references to nearly 10,000 titles by 11,500 authors in over 5,000 different volumes (books, journals, magazines, anthologies, etc.). About 5% of titles in the data had no direct relevance to music and another 20% no direct relevance to popular music studies in particular. Still, even with these reductions, it was, and is, a substantial popular music studies database (at least 7,000 titles at the time of its transfer). Admittedly, it still needs cleaning up a bit (another 5% perhaps) because it has also served purposes of peripheral interest to the general popular music studies community (e.g. facilitating references to append to articles, generating my own list of publications). Its main funtion, however, has been to help students find literature relating to particular topics in popular music studies, including music and the moving image.

As the number of articles and books about popular music continued to increase, not to mention pressures of work and the fatigue of ageing, it became impossible to update the database satisfactorily. It always was an impossible task but this bibliography is still, to my knowledge, one of the most extensive relevant to popular music studies. It is also a resource of considerable value to students looking for literature on particular topics and, frankly, I am tired of responding to bibliographical queries that ought to be answerable directly online.

It is for the reasons just mentioned that I tried, in 2004-2006, to interest several individuals and institutions in taking over my database and in making it available to the general public. These efforts met with little success, as a result of which I posted 45% of the data online (now removed) in the hope that any person or institution concerned about research resources in popular music studies would contact me with a view to turning this bibliography into the valuable public resource it could be.


After failing to interest my own university in hosting the database, I was delighted and relieved when Giovanni Giurati, Professor of Ethnomusicology (Rome), agreed to help find a home for the resource at the prestigious Fondazione Cini in Venice, on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, straight in front of you if you look out to sea from the Piazza San Marco. The task of programming the information into an online searchable dtabase form fell on the competent shoulders of Carlo Ercole (also from Rome and partner of Serena Facci, another Italian ethnomusicologist). Carlo produced a second, entirely usable, temporary version in June 2007. A third, more official version, went online in April 2008, including the possibility to submit contributions to the database.

Having spent an inordinate proportion of my professional life on constructing the database in the first place and then on organising its conversion and transfer, I feel I have contributed enough to the establishment of this resource. That’s why I am delighted that such competent colleagues as Laura Leante (Cambridge, UK) and Christophe Pirenne (Liège) have assumed responsibility for running of the database. I would also like to thank Dylan Kell-Kirkman (Montréal) for entering some of the data I have had not recently had time to deal with.

In 2007, the online database moved to the Fondazione Cini website in Venice. Apart from housing the database and its programming free of charge, the Fondazione Cini provides each year a modest but useful sum to cover some of the costs of running and developing the resource. IASPM also rubber-stamped the project at the General Meeting held in connection with the Mexico conference in June 2007.

My sincerest thanks go to the following individuals for all their help and encouragement during these long years of constructing the bibliography and in getting the online project off the ground: Carlo Ercole, Franco Fabbri, Serena Facci, Giovanni Giurati, David Horn, Laura Leante, Jan Ling, Paul Oliver and Christophe Pirenne. I hope I haven’t missed anyone!

TopTwo afterthoughts

[1] I was particularly glad that individuals in Italy took so many initiatives because of the anglocentricty problems of IASPM. What I did not expect, when I wrote a letter in English to the IASPM list soliciting help for the future running of the database, was that only non-anglos like Laura Leante (Italian) and Christophe Pirenne (Belgian) would show an interest. If you read Franco Fabbri’s and my correspondence about monolinguality and monoculturalism in IASPM (international) you will not be surprised that I really do wonder how open or inquisitive many of my fellow anglophones in popular music studies really are...

[2] Both the IASPM and the IASPM-LA lists still feature numerous one-off bibliographical queries. The frequency of such queries means either that popular music scholars don't know about the online database or that they find it useless. To rectify the first of these problems, please spread information about the database. To correct the second problem, please contribute to the database because doing nothing produces nothing.

Top Tagg’s own database (update 2009-09-04)

I am now semi-retired. As from 2010-01-01 I will be a full-time pensioner. I won’t be needing 90% of my books, articles and documents any longer but they are a great resource for popular music studies (including film music, etc.). I am trying to find a good home —a university or music department library would be ideal— where they can be put to some USE! If you want to know what sort of subjects, titles and content are involved in the donation I’m willing to make, please download this ZIP file. It consists of a complete, searchable HTML listing of everything I’ve entered into my bibliographical database since 1984, along with a hyperlinked listing by author, as well as all the necessary explanations and instructions. If you do download the ZIP file, please first read the file <!READ_THIS_FIRST!.txt> before opening the actual database listings.