Professor Richard Middleton
Emeritus Professor of Music

  • Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6736


Professor Richard Middleton was educated at Morley Grammar School in Yorkshire, Clare College Cambridge and York University, where his PhD was supervised by Wilfrid Mellers. He taught at the University of Birmingham and The Open University before taking up the Chair of Music at Newcastle in 1998. He retired from this post in 2005 and is now Emeritus Professor. His research interests lie in the fields of popular music and the cultural and critical theory of music. While Head of Music at Newcastle (1998-2002), a major interest was in the practical implications of such research for the development of music pedagogy in a department dedicated to pursuing work across the whole range of musical genres.

Professor Middleton has published numerous articles on popular music topics and five books: Pop Music and the Blues (Gollancz, 1972), Studying Popular Music (Open University Press, 1990), Reading Pop (Oxford University Press, 2000), Voicing the Popular (Routledge, 2006) and Musical Belongings (Ashgate, 2009), a volume in Ashgate's prestigious Contemporary Thinkers on Critical Musicology series. He was one of the founders of the leading journal in this field, Popular Music, and one of its editors from its beginnings in 1981 until 1996. With Trevor Herbert and Martin Clayton of The Open University, he edited The Cultural Study of Music: A Critical Introduction (2004) for Routledge, and contributed a chapter entitled ‘Locating the People? Music and the Popular’. A second, revised and expanded edition of this book is in preparation. He is a Coordinatiing Editor of the online journal Radical Musicology, hosted by Newcastle University, and wrote an article for the first volume, entitled 'Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: Avians, Cyborgs and Gendered Bodies in the Era of Phonographic Technology'.

Professor Middleton has contributed to several important handbooks, including Blackwell’s Key Terms in Popular Music and Culture (1999), two Cambridge Companions (to Singing [2000]; and to Pop and Rock [2001]), and to the volume on Populaer Musik edited by Peter Wicke in the prestigious Handbuch der Musikwissenschaft (2001). He has written articles for several major reference works, including new articles on ‘Popular Music’ for the revised New Grove Dictionary and for Enciclopedia della musica (edited by Jean-Jacques Nattiez, published by Einaudi of Turin). He acts as an Associate Editor for the Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World - a major new reference work for which he has also written several articles - and for several years he performed a similar role for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, for which he wrote a new entry on John Lennon.

Other influential books containing chapters by Professor Middleton include The Musical Work: Reality or Invention? (edited by Michael Talbot, published by the University of Liverpool Press, 2000); Western Music and Its Others: Representation and Appropriation in Music (edited by Georgina Born and Dave Hesmondhalgh, published by the University of California Press, 2000); Oh Boy: Masculinities and Popular Music (edited by Freya Jarman-Ivens, published by Routledge, 2007); and Music, National Identity and the Politics of Location (edited by Ian Biddle and Vanessa Knights, published by Ashgate, 2007). Chapters are forthcoming shortly in The Cambridge History of World Music, edited by Philip V Bohlman (Cambridge University Press); in Jazz Worlds/World Jazz, edited by Philip V Bohlman and Goffredo Plastino; and in Music, Sound and Space, edited by Georgina Born (Cambridge University Press).

Current research focuses on questions of representation, politics and voice, especially in an age (the present) dominated by mass-mediated technologies.

In 2004 Professor Middleton was elected to a Fellowship by the British Academy. In 2006 he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Chicago. In 2008 he was elected a Corresponding Member of the American Musicological Society.

Professor Middleton served on the Music Panels of the Research Assessment Exeercise in 1996, 2001 and 2008, and acted as Chair of the 2008 Music Sub-Panel in its final year of work.

Research Interests

popular music
cultural and critical theory of music

Postgraduate Supervision

Esther Zaplana (PT)
Peter Dale (FT)
Xavier Moreno I Pericuala (PT)
George Burrows (PT)