Jan Hemming - English info

Born 1967 in Darmstadt, I represent a scholar with an international orientation whose background is in the discipline of Musicology in Germany. My M.A. thesis was completed in 1995 and treated a contemporary composition by a British composer and reflected its conception in the mirror of modern and post-modern theories: "The third string quartet of Brian Ferneyhough: lack of conditions or reference to history?" My career began in 1997 with a position as academic researcher at the University of Bremen. My doctoral dissertation "Giftedness, talent and self-concept: A qualitative study of semi-professional rock and pop musicians" was completed in November 2000. One month later I became Assistant for Systematic Musicology at the Institute for Musicology at Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg. Since 2005, I have been Professor for Systematic Musicology at the University of Kassel. My main areas of work are Popular Music Studies and Music Psychology. Here is a clarification of some of the keywords used to give you an idea of what I'm actually doing:

International orientation

From 1984-85, I was an exchange student at Niagara Falls, Canada, and have ever since benefited from the resulting familiarity with English language. My other languages are French (oral & written), Latin (written),  Spanish (oral) and basic Russian. I co-organised a number of international conferences (Gender Studies and its significance to Musicology, 1996, Humboldt-University Berlin; Practising Popular Music, 2003, McGill-University, Montréal, Canada) and was a member of the executive committee of the International Association for the study of popular music from 2001-2003. My publications include texts in German, English and Russian language.

Systematic Musicology

The notion of Systematic Musicology was introduced by Guido Adler in 1885 and was originally meant to establish an area of specialization beyond the historical approach. At the time, it included acoustics, physiology of hearing, psychology, pedagogy, aesthetics as well as the comparative study of ethnic music. While the latter has grown into Ethnomusicology with researchers all around the world, Systematic Musicology remains a particularly German issue since most of the areas mentioned are treated from interdisciplinary perspectives outside of Germany. An exception is the Graduate Program/Systematic Musicology Specialization at the University of California in Los Angeles, USA. In collaboration with two colleagues, I published a textbook on Systematic Musicology.


Kassel (Pop. 200000) is located at the very centre of Germany, approximately 200 km north of Frankfurt. The city is 1100 years old and most famous for its Bergpark (Mountain Park) which was declared UNESCO world Heritage on June 23, 2013. The historical city centre was completely wiped out during World War II. Kassel is internationally known for the Documenta art exhibition, which takes place every five years.

University of Kassel

University of Kassel was founded in 1971, nowadays accommodates approximately 22000 students and covers all major areas of science excluding medicine. The Music Institute is located at the south-east corner of the main campus close to the city centre. Graduates typically become music teachers at German public schools (elementary, intermediate and high-school-level). The Music Institute is the base for a great variety of cultural activities and research in Music Pedagogy as well as Historical and Systematic Musicology.

Music Psychology

One area I have worked on here is the development of musical abilities, in particular among people who have not received formal training in classical music and thus use strategies of self-taught learning. I am also interested in the relationship between music and violence. It is a common belief - especially in Germany - that music can cause aggressive behaviour, for example new Fascist rock music. However, serious research was never able to confirm this notion. Furthermore, I have worked on the development of musical preferences, partly in cooperation with a radio station or by replicating of existing studies. My most widely appreciated research addresses the everyday-phenomenon of the so-called 'earworm'. In addition, the Neurosciences of music are a very strong interest of mine as the whole approach partly re-invents Systematic Musicology. I have attended and presented at various international conferences in this field. However, working with brain imaging to actually capture an 'earworm' in the head still remains one of my future projects.

Popular Music Studies

The academic treatment of popular music is a rather new area and was only established around the foundation of the International Association for the study of popular music in 1981. My current book Researching popular music: A methodological framework is the attempt to bring together the most important international approaches to popular music in eleven chapters (Production, textual analysis, Semiotics, Gender Studies, performative culture, empirical psychological and sociological studies, music industry, globalisation, popular music history, issues of defining the 'popular') each of them illustrated by own analyses and examples. Numerous aspects of this work have already been presented at international conferences or published either in English or German language. The book was published in November 2015:

Since popular music is still rather uncommon among musicologists in Germany, I have repeatedly addressed future requirements and necessary changes in the discipline of musicology.