Network for the Inclusion of Music in Music Studies


[provisional logo - explanations]
updated 2015-11-24 by Philip Tagg

[temporary website]
Website plans |  NIMIms Facebook NIMiMS Twitter


  • 2015-06-21. Plans for a new (permanent) website put forward. A NIMiMS Facebook page now exists. It is currently public (open to members and non-members alike). Its primary function is at present to make our existence known to a wider public. A Twitter account has yet to be set up.
  • 2015-05-29. NIMiMS is officially registered in Finland, a bank account has been opened, and subscription payment procedures implemented (see here).
  • 2015-01-22. The decision to establish NIMiMS, the Network for the Inclusion of Music in Music Studies, was taken on Sunday 18 January, 2015, by scholars and musicians attending a symposium at Leeds Beckett Unniversity (UK).

What is NIMiMS and why does it exist?

W H A T ? !

A network dedicated to the cause of including MUSIC in MUSIC STUDIES? That’s like campaigning for the inclusion of the ENVIRONMENT in ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES! If that reasonable analogy were operational we wouldn’t need to take action against the absurdity of music’s effective exclusion from many types of music studies.

Top of this page Music’s exclusion

Music isn’t always excluded from music studies but it often is, and in two main ways: [1] NOTHING BUT THE MUSIC and [2] EVERYTHING BUT THE MUSIC.

§1 NOTHING BUT THE MUSIC ( ‘thesis’). The actual sounds of music —how they’re created, what they consist of, the patterns they build, their sonic materiality, etc.— are studied, as theory or practice, in isolation from the culture and society in which they’re produced and used, and without which they cannot logically exist. This type of exclusion from a broader understanding of music studies is typical for conservative music theory teaching and is common in conservatoire contexts. This position can be called the NOTHING BUT THE MUSIC pole of exclusion. By setting up ‘the music’ as the sole object of study, NOTHING BUT THE MUSIC excludes itself from the larger set of learning of which it is an integral part (music studies). ‘The music itself’ cannot be part of music studies if it is so exclusive about itself!

§2 EVERYTHING BUT THE MUSIC ( ‘antithesis’). The actual sounds of music (its sonic materiality, see §1) are either ignored or treated as peripheral to the context in which they exist. This pole of exclusion —EVERYTHING BUT THE MUSIC— dominates popular music studies (e.g. IASPM, Popular Music). It has also been recently imported as a supposed ‘alternative’ into institutions traditionally associated with the NOTHING BUT THE MUSIC position.

§3 MUSIC (‘synthesis’). Both poles of exclusion (§1 and §2) share one important common trait: the dynamic between the sounds of music (§1) and the sociocultural context without which they cannot exist (§2) is missing. Put another way, the contexts investigated in [popular] music studies (§2) cannot exist without the sounds of music (§1) to which they are manifestly linked and which often, as in the case of genre, are central to the definition of context. It is in these ways that music is reduced to either a contextless text (§1) or to a textless context (§2). That’s the basic reason why the creation of a Network for the Inclusion of Music in Music Studies (NIMiMS) was a necessary and urgent task.

Top of this page Main rationale

NIMiMS is the result of conversations between scholars of [mainly popular] music who are, or have been, active as musicians and who have had to work in institutions of musical learning (§1) or in cultural/studies, media studies departments, etc. (§2), or in both. We have often been struck by an overriding sense of institutional inertia, conservative conventionalism and epistemic sloth in our working environments. We have mostly had to work in isolation and have often been frustrated in our efforts to relate music as sound (§1) to its meanings and uses (§2), and to relate those meanings and uses (§2) back to the musical sounds with which they are demonstrably linked (§1). NIMiMS aims to break our isolation and to give us a concerted voice with a view to integrating the sounds of music into the study of culture and society. That ultimate goal demands that we first make our presence felt as a distinct group (a bit like those who had to identify ‘women's history’ or ‘popular music’ as valid objects of study) rather than as marginalised ‘voices in the wilderness’. Together we have a much better chance of turning ‘music studies’ into music studies.

Top of this page Three main obstacles

1. Conventional institutions of musical learning in the West tend to be fixated on the euroclassical repertoire, or on the jazz canon, with avant-garde or electronic composition and ethnomusicology as the most commonly sanctioned add-ons. These institutions have developed an arsenal of terms adapted to the structural specifics of the repertoires under specific social, cultural and technological circumstances. Many of those terms, as well as the ideology they carry, are inapplicable to many types of music outside the accepted canon[s] and are in dire need of reform (see Music Theory Terminology as Ideology).

2. Popular Music Studies. IASPM (International Association for the Study of Popular Music) was founded in 1981 as an international, interdisciplinary and interprofessional organisation. The interprofessional aim (not just academics but also musicians, journalists, recording engineers, etc.) effectively exists only on paper, while the interdisciplinary aim is compromised by a dearth of music-immanent studies. The association is in other words dominated by scholars (mainly anglophone) from the social sciences and the ‘non-muso’ humanities. This disciplinary hegemony means that the MUSIC at the centre of POPULAR MUSIC ends up in the margins of ‘popular music studies’ as ‘a troublesome appendage to cultural studies’, as Franco Fabbri put it back in the heyday of ‘postmodernist’ theorising (1995).

3. Epistemic confusion. Obstacles 1 and 2 can also be understood in combination as symptoms of an underlying epistemic confusion. Profitable popular music studies courses are often run either as if the music did not count (obstacle 2), or as if conservatoire-style practical performance (incl. recording, etc.) were the only activity of any importance, i.e. as if notation, attention to structural detail, and a music theory of the popular were unnecessary. Theories of popular music (as music) are also held back by the ethnocentrism and conceptual inadequacy of conservative music theory (obstacle 1). Together these obstacles create a vicious circle which aggravates the rift between music-related disciplines, as well as that between music theory and music making. Funding bodies, university administrators, etc. are unable to see these weird rifts as anything but the normal state of institutional affairs. Another bizarre symptom of this confusion is the abandonment of musically immanent studies in ‘alternative’ musicology.

Top of this page Basic aims (under construction)

  • to integrate the sounds of music into the study of culture and society;
  • to bridge gaps between studies of music as sound and of music as part of culture and society;
  • to bridge gaps between the practical and theoretical study of music;
  • to reform music theory and musicology so they are able to adequately designate as wide a variety as possible of musical sounds;
  • to develop ways in which those without formal musical training can integrate discussion of music's sonic materiality into their discourse about music, culture and society.

NIMiMS Contacts
    Esa Lilja (Chairperson)  | email message   
    ● Bob Davis (Secretary)  | email message
    ● Kaire Maimets (Treasurer & Facebook admin) | email message
    ● Philip Tagg (Temporary webmaster) | Wikipedia | email message

Top of this page Membership area

Membership fee structure    ● Joining NIMiMS    ● Payment    ● Membership benefits  ● Membership list  Forums

Membership fees paid in 2015 will be valid until 31 December 2015. Those funds are used to cover the initial one-off expenses of registering the organisation, setting up secure payment systems, personal data protection measures, etc. As from 1 January 2016, membership fees will cover one calendar year.

Membership fee structure:

  • Individual members: (for comparisons, click here)
    • Waged (OECD nations; incl. part-time salary, retired, etc.): 25 €
    • Student / Unwaged: 10€
    • Non-OECD: 10€
    • Honorary: no fee
  • Non-voting members
    • Institutional (organisations, institutions and associations): 200€
    • Supporting individual: 200€

Top of this page Joining NIMiMS

Joining NIMiMS involves two simple steps:

  1. filling in and sending the membership form — you only need do this once (+ when your details change).
  2. sending your membership payment — to be done annually. _______________________________________

Top of this page Membership payment

You can use either [1] Paypal or [2] an online bank transfer (see below) to pay your membership fee.

1. Paypal

Please select the appropriate membership category, below, and press “Subscribe”.
Note that you can also use a debit or credit card for this type of transaction.

2. Online bank transfer

  • Account holder: NIMiMS
  • IBAN: FI5712373000158557
  • Reference number: RF023722
    • Please include the reference number RF023722 in your transaction form to clarify that your payment convers NIMiMS membership.
    • WARNING An online bank transfer may incur considerable costs to you if your own bank account is not in € and you are not in the euro zone. In such instances, please use the Paypal alternative (no cost to you).

If you have any problems with payment, please contact the NIMiMS treasurer.


Membership Benefits

  • You can access the network’s list of members, their NIMiMS-related interests and specialities, their contact details, etc. This list is password protected. Access is restricted to paid-up members only who will receive access codes on receipt of membership fees.
  • You can initiate and contribute to forum discussions.
  • You can participate in NIMiMS events.
  • You will be able to contribute articles to the NIMiMS academic journal, once it has been set up.
  • You can contribute to the improvement, development and running of the network.

Top of this page Membership list

A first list of paid-up and registered members now exists (2016-06-11). The list includes names, email addresses, areas of interest, etc. Fully paid-up members are the only individuals to receive the necessary access codes to view the list and to be included in the list.

To give an idea of the sort of individuals who either participated in the Leeds Beckett Symposium (16-18 Jan, 2015), or who expressed support for that action and for the reasoning behind it, check out the following list of names. To know more about these individuals, click here (access to members only).

Moreno Andreata, Fernando Barrera, Joe Bennett, Paul Carr, Jacopo Conti, Steve Cooper, Bob Davis, Guillaume Dupetit, Franco Fabbri, Charlie Ford, Diego García Peinao, Francisco Giménez, Philippe Gonin, Lucy Green, Clive Harrison, Markus Heuger, Adam Hume, Olivier Julien, Steve Lawson, Esa Lilja, Kaire Maimets-Volt, Simon McKerrell, Sue Miller, Chloë Mullett, Steve Parker, Errico Pavese, Goffredo Plastino, John Richardson, Holly Rogers, Ray Russell, Derek Scott, Philip Tagg, Chris Whiting, Peter Wicke, Tim Wise.

[See also Summaries of symposium presentations and Minutes of constitutive meeting]

Top of this page Suggestions and comments

Pending the establishment of NIMiMS online forums, members are welcome to send comments and suggestions to all members of the NIMiMS executive by using this simple procedure. We will, in this interim period, try to post constructive comments and suggestions here on this temporary website. Initiatives for the organisation of events involving the Network are particularly welcome, as is information about publications, courses, audiovisual materials, etc.

Put something in the NIMiMS suggestion box

Top of this page Upcoming NIMiMS events [reverse chronological order | go to past events]

  • Tim Wise intends to organise a NIMiMS event around music education, at Salford University (UK). .

Top of this page Past events [reverse chronological order | go to upcoming events]

Top of this page Plans for a new NIMiMS website (test only)

See test website

A permanent web solution to replace this temporary site has been proposed by NIMiMS Secretary Bob Davis. The sort of thing envisaged is shown at Please note that this link at present points merely to a test template suggestion. It will be developed during autumn 2015 into a fully comprehensive interactive site. It will include a number of forums (see below) which paid-up members can initiate, to which they contribute, etc. It will also include comments pages, media links, links to teaching materials, a NIMiMS link (test template only), and (perhaps eventually) links to a NIMiMS academic journal.

Top of this page Forums

Discussion forums devoted to specific areas of interest will be an important feature of the new website (see above). Any paid-up member will be able to initiate, subscribe to and contribute to any NIMiMS online forum. Forums are, we think, better than an email list because members will not need to trawl through and delete postings of little or no interest: they can instead focus on the topics to which they subscribe. Members will, however, receive automatic notice by email when a new forum has been added to the NIMiMS site. Until that time, members can send forum topics suggestions to the NIMiMS executive by following the simple suggestions and comments procedure on this site. We will post notice of such suggestions in this section of the website.

Some forum topic suggestions so far (2015-06-21)

  • heavy metal harmony;
  • the reform of music theory terminology: [1] de-ethnocentrifying conventional tonal terminology; [2] developing a user-friendly, perception-based vocabulary to designate musical sounds and structures;
  • collaborative music analysis projects between cultural studies and NIMiMS scholars;
  • the musical mediation of ideas and identities in a context of political change.

Top of this page About the name and provisional logo

NIMiMS proposed logo full size


The slur symbolises that we are joined (legato) in a network. Since we hope our existence is only a temporary necessity, we don‘t see ourselves as constituting an established ‘Society’ or ‘Association’ —just a network.


The slur also symbolises the inclusion of this Network and of Music as parts of a larger whole —Music Studies in general. We reject any regressive move towards the socially decontextualised study of music (‘just the music’) as strongly as we do the exclusion of music from the study of music (‘everything except the music’). We are simply advocating the inclusion of music as a self-evident and essential part of music studies.


The equalizer display symbolises music as sound —it’s what popular audio equipment shows when music is played— while the slur alludes to the possibility of music as notation. We don’t specify POPULAR music in the name of the network because vernacular UK English tends often to equate ‘popular music’ with recordings of ‘songs’ and doesn’t include, for example, music for moving images. Besides, euroclassical studies need to stop excluding their music from studies that can make sociocultural sense of it!

Fee structure comparison (IASPM):

[1] Waged: US $25, Unwaged/Student: US $10; [2] IASPM UK/IRE: Waged: £25, Unwaged/Student: £10; [3] IASPM Italia: Waged: 35€, (graduate) students: 15€; [4] IASPM Norden: Waged: 35€, undergraduate students & unwaged: FREE; [5] IASPM Benelux: Regulier: 35€, Student 10€; [6] IASPM USA: Individual memberships US $70, Student/Unwaged membership US $39, Joint memberships US $81












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