Portrait of Dr Jan Herbst Dr Jan Herbst

j.herbst@hud.ac.uk | 01484 473126


Jan Herbst (b. 1984) is a popular music scholar, musicologist, music producer and guitar player, and he joined the University of Huddersfield in August 2017 as Lecturer in Music Production. His area of teaching includes Music Production, Computer Composition, Popular Music Studies and Musicology. He is Sub area Head of Musicology, Module Leader for Computer Composition 1 and 2 and the Music and Music Technology Coordinator of “Fields – Journal of Huddersfield student research”.

Besides his interests in music production and technology, he is deeply engaged in research. He has published more than 40 books, articles, chapters, encyclopaedia articles and reviews, and he is regularly presenting research papers in different countries. In his second book ‘The Guitar Distortion in Rock Music – Studies on Playing and Aesthetics’ [translation] (2016) he explores the significance of distortion for the electric guitar and its far-reaching implications for the instrument’s aesthetics, playability and expressiveness in the context of pop, rock and metal music genres.

Jan was awarded a PhD in Popular Music Education at Paderborn University with the thesis ‘Network Sound – An Educational Challenge of Popular Music’ [translation], which centres on musical, cultural, social and aesthetic aspects of music production and electrified sound. He further received an MA in Popular Music and Media and a combined BA + MEd in Music Education at Paderborn University. Before, he studied Contemporary Guitar Performance at the Munich Guitar Institute and the Los Angeles Music Academy, where he played with Frank Gambale (Chick Corea), Brad Rabuchin (Ray Charles), Ross Bolton (Al Jarreau), Steve Fister (Steppenwolf), Bill Fowler (Pointer Sisters), Joe Porcaro (TOTO, Stan Getz, Madonna) and Philip Bynoe (Steve Vai).

Jan has taught popular music studies, music production, music analysis, empirical musicology, music history and music theory at the Universities of Paderborn, Bielefeld, Detmold and Muenster (Germany). As a professional guitarist, he has also been guitar instructor at music schools and Head of Music at a vocational college.

Jan is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Teaching and Learning (PGCHE).

Research and Scholarship

Jan works in the areas of popular music studies, music analysis, systematic musicology and the art of record production. Previous and current research includes:


(2014): Network sound. An educational challenge of popular music [translation]

The book deals with music production in popular music genres. The analyses combine cultural studies, popular music studies, media studies, sound studies, art of record production and philosophical approaches to raise awareness of technologically mediated sound in educational contexts. It presents a methodology of popular music analysis based on the means of technological (re-)production as the centre of the music’s aesthetics, cultural inscription and decoding.

(2016): The guitar distortion in rock music. A study on playability and aesthetics [translation]

The book addresses the significance of distortion for the electric guitar and its implications for pop, rock and metal music genres. The issues among others are aesthetics, philosophical reflections on the interrelationship of music technology and expressiveness, the historical development of rock aesthetics based on the development of the guitar sound, and recording and production techniques. It draws upon methods from music theory, empirical musicology, psychology, acoustics and electronic engineering.

Smaller projects

  • The role(s) of the music producer
  • The work realities of professional session musicians
  • Heaviness in metal music
  • Teutonic metal and Germanness in power metal
  • Guitar virtuosity and “shredding”
  • Rock and metal guitar riffs
  • Production of the rock and metal guitar sound
  • Genre-specific use of bass drum sounds in EDM
  • Dub reggae
  • Musicians’ usage of and opinions on musical equipment
  • Gear acquisition syndrome
  • Guitar profiling technology
  • History of popular music


Besides theoretical and music analytical approaches, Jan has specialised in empirical methodologies in his postdoctoral work.

Qualitative: discourse analysis, qualitative content analysis, qualitative spectral and dynamic analysis, videography and iconographic analysis, grounded theory (selection).

Quantitative: quantitative content analysis, standardized surveys and experimental psychology, critical test theory, quantitative spectral and dynamic analysis, music information retrieval procedures (selection).

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Herbst, J (2018) ‘The formation of the German metal scene and the question of a “Teutonic” power metal sound’. In: HardWired VI: So far, so good… so what? Approaching the Metal Realities, 3-5 May 2018, University of Siegen, Germany

Herbst, J (2018) ‘The Art of Record Production: Technologies, practices and styles of popular music production’. In: Postgraduate seminar on popular music analysis, 26-29 March 2018, Paderborn University, Germany

Herbst, J (2018) ‘Heaviness and the electric guitar: Considering the interaction between distortion and harmonic structuresMetal Music Studies , 4 (1), pp. 95-113. ISSN 20524005

Herbst, J., Czedik-Eysenberg, I. and Reuter, C. (2018) ‘Guitar profiling technology in metal music production: public reception, capability, consequences and perspectivesMetal Music Studies . ISSN 2052-3998

Herbst, J (2018) ‘Moonlight Shadows: ”Licht und Schatten“ in Pink Floyds The Dark Side Of The Moon [Light and shadow in Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon]’. In: Vom Schatten aus. Denk- und Handlungsräume in Kunst und Kunstpädagogik. Flensburg: Fabrico. .

Herbst, J (2018) ‘“Put It Up to Eleven”: An Experimental Study on Distorted Solo Guitar Techniques in Sixty Years of Rock MusicVox Popular , 3. ISSN 2531-7059

Herbst, J. and Boer, D. (2018) ‘Impulse aus der Musik kreativ in Bewegungen umsetzen und für Kommunikationsanlaesse nutzen [Transforming musical impulses into movement and communication]Sportpaedagogik . ISSN 0171-4953


Herbst, J. and Holthaus, J. (2017) ‘Music studio operators from Germany’s “Ruhrpott”: Role, services and resourcesEtnomusikologian vuosikirja , 29. ISSN 0783-6821

Herbst, J (2017) ‘Old sounds with new technologies? Examining the creative potential of guitar ‘profiling’ technology from a production perspective’. In: The Future Sound of Pop Music, 30 November - 02 December 2017, University of the Arts Bern, Switzerland

Herbst, J (2017) ‘Influence of distortion on guitar chord structures: Acoustic effects and perceptual correlates’. In: Akustik und musikalische Wahrnehmung. Goettingen: Hogrefe. .

Herbst, J (2017) ‘“Heaviness im modernen Metal. Eine produktionstechnische Annäherung an ein genrespezifisches Qualitätskriterium” [Heaviness in modern metal music. A production-technological approach to a genre-specific quality criterion]’. In: “Modern rock and metal music” postgraduate symposium, 21 October 2017, University of the Arts Bern, Switzerland

Herbst, J (2017) ‘“Musikpädagogik und Musiktechnologie: Eine Fallstudie aus der Praxis am Beispiel von Dub Reggae” [Music Technology and Music Education: A practice-based case study on dub reggae]’. In: Jugend musiziert – musikkulturelle Vielfalt im Diskurs, 28-29 September 2017, Paderborn University, Germany

Herbst, J (2017) ‘“Heaviness” and the metal music guitar. Interactions between harmonic structure and sound from acoustic and perceptual perspectives’. In: Musik und Bewegung, 15-17 September 2017, Hamburg University, Germany

Herbst, J (2017) ‘Resonanz [Resonance]’. In: Irgendwie anders: Inklusionsaspekte in den künstlerischen Fächern und der ästhetischen Bildung. Hannover: Fabrico. pp. 217-222. ISBN 9783946320135

Herbst, J (2017) ‘Virtuoses Gitarrenspiel im Rock und Metal: Zum Einfluss von Verzerrung auf das ‚Shredding’ [Virtuoso solo guitar in rock and metal music: About the influence of distortion on ’shredding']’. In: Schneller, höher, lauter. Virtuosität in populären Musiken. Bielefeld: Transcript. pp. 131-152. ISBN 978-3837635928

Herbst, J (2017) ‘Shredding, tapping and sweeping: Effects of guitar distortion on playability and expressiveness in rock and metal solosMetal Music Studies , 3 (2), pp. 231-250. ISSN 2052-3998

Herbst, J (2017) ‘“Gear Acquisition Syndrome”: A Survey of Electric Guitar Players’. In: Popular Music Studies Today. Proceedings of the 19th conference of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. Wiesbaden: Springer. pp. 139-148. ISBN 978-3658177393

Herbst, J (2017) ‘Akkordstrukturen im verzerrten Rockgitarrenriff: Eine experimental-analytische Studie zur Auswirkung von physikalischen und psycho-akustischen Faktoren [Chord structures in the distorted rock guitar riff: An experimental and analytic study on the effects of physical and psychoacoustic factors]Samples , 15. ISSN 1216-8001

Herbst, J (2017) ‘“Musikalische Darstellungsweisen der Elemente am Beispiel des Konzeptalbums 'The Alchemy Index' von Thrice“ [Musical presentation of the natural elements in Thrice’s concept album The Alchemy Index]’. In: Lecture series in Arts and Music, 3 March 2017, Bielefeld University, Germany

Herbst, J (2017) ‘Historical development, sound aesthetics and production techniques of the distorted electric guitar in metal musicMetal Music Studies , 3 (1), pp. 23-46. ISSN 2052-3998

Herbst, J. and Kathke, P. (2017) ‘Musik und Kunst – ein Überblick [Music and Arts – an overview]Musik und Unterricht , 126, pp. 18-20. ISSN 0937-9568

Herbst, J (2017) ‘Faszination Gitarre: Der gemeinsame Song im Gitarrenorchester [Guitar fascination: The guitar orchestra]Praxis des Musikunterrichts , 127, pp. 34-39. ISSN 1436-1949

Herbst, J (2017) ‘”Transkulturelle Musikpädagogik: Ziele, Methoden und Potenziale für ästhetische Bildung“ [Transcultural music education: aims, methods and potentials for aesthetic education]’. In: Strategien in der ästhetischen Bildung, 17 January 2017, Bielefeld University, Germany

Herbst, J (2017) ‘“Eigenes und Fremdes: Differenz als Chance für die (interkulturelle) Musikpädagogik” [I and the other: Difference as opportunity for intercultural music education]’. In: Music and Arts Education, 10 January 2017, Bielefeld University, Germany


Herbst, J (2016) ‘Faszination Gitarre: Grundlagen der akkordischen Liedbegleitung [Guitar fascination: Basics of rhythm guitar]Praxis des Musikunterrichts , 126, pp. 38-47. ISSN 1436-1949

Herbst, J (2016) ‘Remixing dub reggae in the music classroom: A practice-based case study on the educational value of music production for listening skills and stylistic analysisJournal of Music, Technology and Education , 9 (3), pp. 255-272. ISSN 1752-7066

Herbst, J (2016) ‘”Shredding, Two-Hand-Tapping, Feedback: Eine experimental-analytische Studie zur Auswirkung von Gitarrenverzerrung auf das Solospiel im Rock und Metal” [An experimental and analytic study on the effects of guitar distortion on solo playing in rock and metal]’. In: Schneller, höher, lauter. Virtuosität in populären Musiken, 18-20 November 2016, Hamburg University, Germany

Herbst, J (2016) ‘“Para-Sonic 3.0: Eine Klang-Körper-Interaktion“ [Para-sonic 3.0: A sound and body interaction]’. In: Lecture series in Music and Arts, 11 November 2016, Bielefeld University, Germany

Herbst, J (2016) ‘Review of Forsbach, Beate (2015): Fächerübergreifender Musikunterricht: Konzepte und Modelle für die Unterrichtspraxis (Edition Forsbach Verlag)Musik und Unterricht , 122, pp. 75-75. ISSN 0937-9568

Herbst, J (2016) Die Gitarrenverzerrung in der Rockmusik: Studien zu Spielweise und Ästhetik [The guitar distortion in rock music: A study on playability and aesthetics] . Populaere Kultur und Medien. Muenster: LIT. ISBN 978-3-643-13553-7

Herbst, J (2016) ‘“Wir brauchen Licht: Musikalische und performative Umsetzung des Finalstückes aus dem Musical ‚Next to Normal’“ [We need light: music and performance in the final song of the musical ’Next to Normal’]’. In: Summer School Music Education, 12-15 September 2016, Bielefeld University, Germany

Herbst, J (2016) ‘“Der Einfluss von Verzerrung auf die Wahrnehmung verschiedener Gitarrenakkorde: Eine quantitative Studie auf Grundlage psychoakustischer Messungen” [The effect of distortion on the perception of guitar chord structures: A quantitative study based on a psychoacoustic experiment]’. In: Akustik und musikalische Hörwahrnehmung, 1-11 September 2016, Vienna University, Austria

Herbst, J (2016) ‘“Verzerrung und Noise: Formen, Intentionen und Geschichte des Heavy Metal Sounds“ [Distortion and noise: Forms, intentions and history of heavy metal sounds]’. In: Musik, Kultur und Geschichte des Heavy Metal, 28 June 2016, Siegen University, Germany

Herbst, J (2016) ‘Kommunikation und Wissenskonstruktion: Eine quantitative Studie zum Einsatz kommunikationsanregender Methoden in der Vorlesung [Communication and construction of knowledge: A quantitative study on methods facilitating communication in the higher education lecture]die Hochschullehre , 2. ISSN 2199-8825

Herbst, J (2016) ‘“Die Verzerrung als Gestaltungsmerkmal des Gitarrenspiels: Methodische Grundlagen und praktische Anwendungen“ [The distortion as an expressive means of guitar playing: Methodical basics and practical application]’. In: Stromgitarren, 16 June 2017, Paderborn University, Germany

Herbst, J (2016) ‘“George Martin: Eine Rückschau auf seine Arbeit mit den Beatles und seinen Einfluss auf die Musikwelt“ [George Martin: A retrospect on his work with the Beatles and his influence on the world of music]’. In: Lecture series in Music and Arts, 1 June 2016, Bielefeld University, Germany

Herbst, J (2016) ‘Faszination Gitarre: Phrasierung und die ersten Melodien [Guitar fascination: Phrasing and melodies]Praxis des Musikunterrichts , 125, pp. 38-44. ISSN 1436-1949

Herbst, J (2016) ‘“Das Konzeptalbum im Wandel der Zeit: Transmediale Schnittstellen als zeitgemäße ästhetische wie auch ökonomische Strategien?!“ [Concept albums in the change of time: Transmedial interfaces as aesthetic and economic strategies?!’. In: Lecture series in Music and Arts, 20th April 2016, Bielefeld University, Germany

Herbst, J (2016) ‘“Methoden der Klanganalyse und ihre Anwendung in Musikpsychologie und -analyse" [Methods of sound analysis and its use for music psychology and analysis]’. In: Funktionen und Wirkungen von Musik, 19 April 2016, Paderborn University, Germany

Herbst, J (2016) ‘“Kommunikation und Wissenskonstruktion in der Vorlesung: Eine quantitative Studie zur Emergenz fachlichen Grundlagenwissens durch kommunikationsanregende Methoden“ [Communication and construction of knowledge: A quantitative study on the emergence of knowledge by teaching methods]’. In: Tag der Lehre, 16 February 2016, Paderborn University, Germany

Herbst, J (2016) ‘Das virtuelle Mischpult als Instrument [The virtual mixing desk as an instrument]Musikunterricht und Computer , 5, pp. 28-37. ISSN 1617-5816

Herbst, J (2016) ‘“Die Verzerrung als Gestaltungsmerkmal des E-Gitarrenspiels in der Rockmusik“ [Distortion as an expressive tool for rock guitar playing]’. In: Transcultural and Popular Music Research, 29 January 2016, Weimar College of Music, Germany


Herbst, J (2015) ‘“Dub Reggae: Das Mischpult als Instrument“ [Dub reggae: the mixing desk as an instrument]’. In: Lecture series in Music and Arts, 2nd December 2015, Bielefeld University, Germany

Herbst, J (2015) ‘”Busby Berkeley: Höhepunkte der Choreographie des Broadway Musicals der 1930er Jahre“ [Busby Berkeley: Highlights of 1930s Broadway musical choreography]’. In: Lecture series in Music and Arts, 4 November 2015, Bielefeld University, Germany

Herbst, J (2015) ‘Faszination Gitarre: Die Grundlagen der Tonerzeugung [Guitar fascination: The basics of tone production]Praxis des Musikunterrichts , 123, pp. 36-43. ISSN 1436-1949

Herbst, J (2015) ‘“Kommunikative Musikdidaktik im Spannungsfeld von Kontingenz und Kompetenz: Eine empirische Studie zu konstruktivistisch-interaktiven Lernarrangements in musikpädagogischer Theorie und Praxis“ [Communicative music education between contingency and competence: An empirical study on contructivist and interactive learning situations]’. In: Empirical Music Education, 21 May 2015, Mozarteum Salzburg, Austria

Herbst, J (2015) ‘He’s a Pirate: Ein höranalytischer Vergleich des Film-Soundtracks mit einer Interpretation David Garretts [An audiological comparison of film soundtracks with the interpretations of David Garrett]Musik und Bildung , 2014 (2), pp. 8-11. ISSN 0027-4747

Herbst, J (2015) ‘“What’s that Sound?” Sound als didaktische Herausforderung der populären Musik [Sound as an educational challenge of popular music]’. In: Popmusik-Vermittlung: Zwischen Schule, Universität und Beruf. : LIT. pp. 133-152. ISBN 9783643129970

Herbst, J (2015) ‘“Informelles Lernen lehren: Eine aktuelle Problemstellung der Didaktik populärer Musik“ [Teaching informal learning: A contemporary challenge of popular music education]’. In: Popular Music Education in Practice, 7 April 2015, University of Applied Sciences Osnabrueck, Germany


Herbst, J (2014) Netzwerk Sound: Eine didaktische Herausforderung der populären Musik [Network sound: An educational challenge of popular music] . Forum Musikpädagogik. Augsburg: Wißner. ISBN 9783896399724

Herbst, J (2014) ‘”Rethinking sound – an ontological perspective“’. In: Sonic Signatures, 9-11 April 2014, Aalborg University, Denmark


Herbst, J (2013) ‘18 and Life (Skid Row)Songlexikon/Encyclopedia of Songs .

Herbst, J (2013) ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey)Songlexikon/Encyclopedia of Songs .

Herbst, J (2013) ‘“Netzwerk Sound: Hören, Kultur, Praxis“ [Network sound: Listening, culture, practice]’. In: Postgraduate Research Conference, 19 February 2013, Paderborn University, Germany

Herbst, J (2013) ‘“Didaktik der Populären Musik: Sound und aktuelle Herausforderungen“ [Popular Music Education: Sound and contemporary challenges]’. In: Musik lernen und vermitteln: Grundfragen und Perspektiven der Musikpädagogik, 13 January 2013, Paderborn University, Germany


Herbst, J (2012) ‘Hump de Bump (The Red Hot Chili Peppers)Songlexikon/Encyclopedia of Songs .

Herbst, J (2012) ‘Rosanna (Toto)Songlexikon/Encyclopedia of Songs .


Herbst, J (2011) ‘Die Form macht’s: Angewandte Formenlehre in der Erarbeitung populärer Musik [The form matters: Applied music theory in popular music education]Ueben und Musizieren , 2011 (6), pp. 34-37. ISSN 0174-6065

Herbst, J (2011) ‘Die Metapher als „Medium“ des Musikverstehens (Conference report)’. In: Die Metapher als „Medium“ des Musikverstehens, 17-19 June 2011, Osnabrueck University


Jan has presented research papers and published his work in the areas of popular music studies, psychology of music, the art of record production, music technology and music education in the UK, USA, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark and Finland. He is regular peer-reviewer of the IASPM@Journal, The Art of Record Production and Psychology of Music. Furthermore, Jan is editor-in-chief of the upcoming journal Music, Sound and Meaning. He has taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses, as regular member of staff, visiting professor and as guest lecturer, at the Universities of Paderborn, Detmold, Bielefeld, Muenster (all GER) and Bern (CH). His teaching was honoured with the award for outstanding teaching at Paderborn University in 2012 and with a nomination for the Karl Peter Grotemeyer prize at Bielefeld University for outstanding achievements and personal commitment in higher education teaching in 2016. Jan still actively supervises and examines research theses in Germany.

Membership in academic associations:

  • Association for the Study of the Art of Record Production (ASARP)
  • German Society for Music Psychology (DGM)
  • German Society for Popular Music Studies (GfPM)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM international, UK & I, D-A-CH)
  • International Society for Metal Music Studies (ISMMS)

Research Degree Supervision

Jan welcomes research proposals in the areas of popular music studies, systematic musicology, the art of record production, music technology and music education (please see section “Research and Scholarship”) and is happy to discuss topics close to these areas.

Selection of supervised theses’ topics:

  • Music production and studio tools: styles of music production, auto-tune as expressive means, production and aesthetics of Memphis-rap and French house, percussive body sounds, production conventions of kick drums in EDM, innovations in guitar amplification
  • Roles within music production: self-images of producers and composers, clients of semi-professional music studios, work-reality of session musicians
  • Film music and radio plays
  • Metal music: metal music industry, female singers in extreme metal, selling-out in the gothic festival scene, authenticity, genre theory
  • Audio branding, copyright and sampling
  • Flow experiences, music and wellbeing, musical competences
  • Charts analyses

Enterprise Activities

Between 2006 and 2013 Jan has been an active freelance musician who offered live and studio services as a guitar and bass player in the genres rock, pop, top 40, funk, soul, r’n’b, metal and folk for more than 30 bands. During this time, he had been endorsed by Epiphone guitars, Hughes & Kettner amplifiers and Thomas Vinci strings.

In 2008, Jan started a music studio where he recorded, mixed and produced solo artists and bands playing blues, pop, folk but mainly rock and metal music. He also produced jingles and voice recordings.

Since 2011, Jan has been designing teaching material for music in public schools, which he offers to commercial publishers in the area of music education.

Administrative Responsibilities

Sub area head of musicology

Coordinator of the Fields journal of Huddersfield student research

Module leader of Computer Composition 1 and 2

Member of the School Board

Teaching and Professional Activities

Computer Composition 1 & 2

Popular Music Studies

Individual Projects / Undergraduate Dissertations

Masters and PhD supervision