- Bloomsbury Popular Music
The Bloomsbury Popular Music (BPM) online database collects together The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World (fourteen volumes in total, eleven of which are currently available), all of the 33 1/3 and 33 1/3 Global book series offering individual authors' analyses of influential pop albums, and a growing library of scholarly books from Bloomsbury's Popular Music Studies list. At the time of writing, this last category included twenty-five books with titles ranging from João Sardinha and Ricard Campos's edited volume Transglobal Sounds: Music, Youth and Migration (2016) to Gavin Hopp's Morrissey: The Pageant of His Bleeding Heart (2009), and the promise of at least five more every year. Altogether, BPM provides full access to 175 titles and counting.
If you know exactly which one of those 175 titles you want to read, each of the three wings of BPM (Encyclopedia, 33 1/3, and Scholarly Titles) has its own portal under the "Browse Contents" button in the upper right corner. If you plan to look up a specific definition or the number of times a musician is referenced in BPM's content, the "search" bar is front and center on every page. If you are not looking for something in particular, however—if the project is in its beginnings, or you wish to gather more information about a particular cultural context—that is where BPM really shines.
On the upper right-hand side of every page, the user will find a menu with a tab titled "Explore", and three sub-headings labeled "Place", "Artist", and "Music Genres". Each of these leads to a page that draws on the BPM library's metadata to create a list of thousands of [End Page 345] alphabetically-organised categories, all of which are populated by a clearly-marked number of data points consisting of entries from the encyclopedias, chapters, or articles from the book series, and extra informational content. I might, for example, scroll down the "Artist" page to find "Beyoncé Knowles (3)". One click provides me with a list of every time her name appears in BPM's holdings: an "artist page" (complete with photograph), and two articles in the Bloomsbury Encyclopedia VIII on "R&B, Contemporary", and "Hip-Hop". A quick perusal of the "Place" page uncovers 177 hits for the "United Kingdom" category, forty-five hits for "Cuba", and one for "Cyprus". Under "Music Genres", the "W" section alone is a treasure trove of juxtapositions: "Waiata (Song)" sits comfortably next to "Waltz", "Western Swing", "Waila", "Wedding Songs", "Wienerlied", "Waka", "West Coast Jazz", and that questionable catch-all, "World Music".
My eye, however, was caught by the twenty-nine hits associated with the Music Genres category "Art Rock"; I clicked through. "Art Rock" features Artists' Pages (from Pink Floyd to Yoko Kanno), entries in the 33 1/3 series (featuring Brian Eno, Television, Patti Smith, and more), Bloomsbury Encyclopedia articles (as diverse as Utrecht and Avant-Pop), and one scholarly book by Shelton Waldrep titled Future Nostalgia: Performing David Bowie. In the left side bar, BPM lists a set of "subjects", further breaking down the metadata associated with my twenty-nine results. Five of these hits concern The Velvet Underground, I discover, under the "Artists" subject. Twenty-seven are cross-listed with "Rock", and nine with the "New York Downtown Scene". I notice in "Periods" that nineteen of my hits are attached to the 1970s and only one to the 1920s. Under the "Topics" subject, various hits are cross-listed with "Social Phenomena", "Performers and Performing", "Music Industry", "Radio", "Gender", "Rhythm", and "Religion"—twenty-six topics in all. Which of my hits specifically deal with "Art Rock" and "Gender"?, I wonder. Click: the 33 1/3 Patti Smith's Horses by Philip Shaw, Waldrup's Future Nostalgia, and a Bloomsbury Encyclopedia entry on "Russia". When I click through to Patti Smith's Horses, I am provided with...