Music theory meets rock circus as academics gather at university

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It’s one of the newest and most futuristic campus facilities in Yorkshire, but the £28m Oastler Building, opened last year at Huddersfield University by the Duke of York, is hardly Wembley Arena.

So the three-day music festival which opens there on Monday will be a low-key affair, as these things go.

However, with a programme that encompasses hip hop, heavy metal, punk and other genres, it will bear little resemblance to an academic conference, either.

The “Crosstown Traffic” event, whose seminars include one on ‘Sexual Misconduct in the Music Industry – Then and Now’, and another on The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper album, is a gathering for hundreds of “serious scholars of rock and pop” from around the world.

Its star turn, not performing but delivering a keynote lecture, will be the record producer Andrew Scheps, whose acts include Metallica, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Jay Z and Adele.

Other speakers will cover aspects of popular music as diverse as psychedelic rock, the cowboy songs of Gene Autry, and the life and death of George Michael.

Rupert Till, a professor of music at the university and an executive committee member of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, is one of the organisers of the event, which begins on Monday.

He said: “The study of popular music is a big field. In the 1990s it was Britain’s biggest export, so it’s natural that we are looking at its many aspects.

“Gender and sexuality are significant issues in music, and in the light of recent events they are very much under the microscope.”

Some 200 papers by academic researchers will be presented at the conference, an amalgam of four normally separate events.

Huddersfield University runs BA courses in popular music, sound engineering and creative music production.