Lars Lilliestam

Professor Emeritus

Visiting address
Renströmsgatan 6
412 55 Göteborg
Postal address
Box 200
405 30 Göteborg

About Lars Lilliestam

I have been working as a university teacher and researcher since 1975, and I was appointed professor in musicology in 2002. Areas of special interest are modern music history (the latest 100 years or so), rock, blues, jazz, folk music, music sociology, cultural theory and music and, more recently, music and health. I have also been director of undergraduate studies at the Department of Musicology, University of Gothenburg for in all 13 years. Since 2018 I am professor emeritus.


My doctor’s thesis from 1989, entitled Musikalisk ackulturation – från blues till rock (Musical acculturation – from blues to rock), dealt with how blues as a musical style and ’language’ changed when it was moved from one culture to another, in this case from the USA to Sweden. As an illustration some 20 different versions of the song ’Hound dog’, American and Swedish, were analysed in detail.

I have since written several monographs in different areas, such as music and TV commercials, playing by ear, Swedish rock music and how high-school students think and speak about music. I have also written numerous scholarly articles and over 100 entries in the Swedish National Encyclopedia as well as a number of critical articles about musicology as an academic discipline.

In recent years my research has been directed towards the use of music in everyday life, where perspectives from musicology, cultural theory, sociology, psychology and ethnology are combined with a special focus on what people say and think about music and how they value music. This has resulted in the book Musikliv. Vad människor gör med musik – och musik med människor (Musical life. What people do with music – and music does with people) which was published in 2006 and in a second revised edition 2009. The study presents and summarizes research in this field, and it is used as a course book in many Swedish music educations.

In 2007 my colleague Thomas Bossius and I launched the project Musik i Människors Liv (Music in People’s Lives), financed by the Swedish Research Council, where we interviewed 42 people aged between 20 and 95 years about how they use and think of music. A 300-page report from the project was published in 2011 under the title Musiken och jag (The music and me). The project has also generated a number of articles both in Swedish and in English.

The book Rock på svenska – från Little Gerhard till Laleh (Rock in Swedish – from Little Gerhard to Laleh) was published in 2013. This is a musical, cultural and historical description and analysis of the development of Swedish rock music from the mid 1950s until today addressed at university students as well as the general public. A central idea in the book is that Swedish rock music is created in a meeting or a dialogue between musical styles that at a certain time already are found in Sweden and influences from abroad, i.e. mainly the USA and Great Britain. Apart from the historical chapters there are analyses of a selection of Swedish artists (like Eldkvarn, Laleh, Kent and Peps Persson) and styles (singer-songwriters, hip hop, dance band, blues and folk rock) as well as a discussion of the question why Swedish rock musicians choose to sing in Swedish or English and what consequences this choice may have.

Since 2014 I have been working with the research project Music listening, meaning and health, based on deep interviews with ten people about how they listen to music, how they describe music and experiences of music and what effects they claim that music listening have on their wellbeing and health. The project is influenced by problems and questions that were raised in the project Music in People’s Lives. Another important influence has been the Nordic research network MUCH, Music, Culture and Health, that was active between 2011 and 2013, and where I was a member of the steering committee. In late 2020 the results from the project were published in the book Lyssna på musik: Upplevelser, mening, hälsa (Listen to music: Experiences, meanings, health).


I have been teaching in most fields within musicology, in teacher training, music teacher training and cultural science both at the University of Gothenburg and as a visiting teacher at other universities in Scandinavia.