Forensic Musicology

Prof Joe Bennett has been analysing and transcribing popular music for international publication since 1994. He has written 40 books, including transcription, teaching and reference works, and more than 300 articles for Total Guitar magazine and others, relating to classic songs, guitar techniques and songwriting. He is a writer member of PRS for Music, a peer reviewer for IASPM (International Association for the Study of Popular Music) and a member of AMS (the American Musicological Society).

Joe’s primary areas of research are the psychology of songwriting and similarity thresholds in popular songs. His PhD research (University of Surrey, UK) was entitled ‘Constraint, Creativity, Copyright and Collaboration in Popular Songwriting Teams’ and it provided the world’s first detailed systematic investigation into collaborative songwriters’ creative processes. Joe was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship (NTF) in 2004 by the UK Higher Education Academy in recognition of his contribution to the teaching and learning of popular music. This award was used to fund a five-year investigation into the creative processes used by songwriters and culminated in Joe founding the UK Songwriting Festival. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

As a forensic musicologist, Joe’s clients have included Universal Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing, Ministry of Sound, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, JWT, Adelphoi Music, Kassner Music, Westbury Music, Simpson & Marwick solicitors, Michael Simkins LLP, Van Straten solicitors and Loeb & Loeb LLC, as well as many individual songwriters. His work was recently used in evidence in Naxos v. Salmon.  Recent media appearances include MTV, NPR, Associated Press, BBC TV News, BBC Radio 4 and The Guardian. He is listed on the Music Publisher’s Association’s Register of Expert Witness Musicologists.

Registered office: Joe Bennett Music Services Ltd, 1 Walcot Gate, Bath, Somerset BA1 5UG, UK

Boston contact: c/o Berklee College of Music, Boston 02215, USA

Recent conference papers/publications:

  • “I Hate These Blurred Lines: The Intrinsic Test In Music Copyright Disputes” (forthcoming conference paper). Joe Bennett and Wendy Gordon (Professor of Law, Boston University, USA). The 11th Art of Record Production Conference, December 2-4, 2016. Aalborg University, Denmark.
  • “Who Writes the Songs? Creative Practice and Intellectual Property in Popular Music’s Digital Production Chain.” In Creativity, Circulation and Copyright: Sonic and Visual Media in the Digital Age, CRASSH Centre For Research In The Arts, Social Sciences And Humanities. Cambridge University, UK 28-29 March 2014
  • Forensic Musicology: approaches and challenges. In The Timeline Never Lies: Audio Engineers Aiding Forensic Investigators in Cases of Suspected Music Piracy. Presented at the International Audio Engineering Society Convention. New York, USA, October 2013.
  • Two Worlds Collide: originality and plagiarism in songwriting (IASPM conference, Gijon, Spain, June 2013)
  • You Won’t See Me: in search of an epistemology of collaborative songwriting (Art of Record Production, Université Laval, Québec, Canada, July 2013)
  • Applying Melodic Analysis to Infer the Extent of Plagiarism in Popular Song Authorship Disputes. (PopMAC conference, University of Liverpool, July 2013)
  • Constraint, Collaboration and Creativity in Popular Songwriting Teams.” In The Act of Musical Composition: Studies in the Creative Process, ed. David Collins, 139–169. SEMPRE Studies in The Psychology of Music. Ashgate, 2012.
  • Collaborative Songwriting – the Ontology of Negotiated Creativity in Popular Music Studio Practice.” Journal on the Art of Record Production, 2011.

Musicology enquiry

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