Logo for Arnold Shaw Popular Music Center

Arnold Shaw Popular Music Research Center

at the UNLV School of Music


Arnold Shaw founded UNLV's Popular Music Research Center in 1985, making it one of the world's oldest institutions of its kind. Shaw believed that Las Vegas's cultural identity rested on two pillars: gaming and popular musical entertainment. He therefore envisioned UNLV housing a popular music research center parallel to the university's Gaming Institute.

Today, the Arnold Shaw Center honors Shaw's vision, enabling the study of popular music through two major activities:

Collecting, archiving, and making accessible historical materials related to popular music, including music manuscripts, memorabilia, sheet music, and recordings, with a special emphasis on Las Vegas musical entertainment.

Providing a forum for scholars and practitioners of popular music to share their research and creative work with the UNLV community and the broader public. Our current efforts in this regard center on our annual lecture series, which welcomes prominent figures in popular music studies to share their knowledge with UNLV's community and beyond.
New! Spilka Recorded Jazz Archive
We proudly announce the publication of an archive prepared by Bill Spilka between the 1970s and the 1990s of recorded jazz interviews, masterclasses, and performances. This archive contains one-of-a-kind items related to over ninety jazz artists, including Benny Goodman, Harry Goodman, Stan Kenton, Lester Young and many others. Mr. Spilka was often backstage at venues such as Rockefeller Center or New York's Roseland Ballroom, catching conversations with musicians when they took breaks during their live sets.

Interviews are streamable from our website, while performances and masterclasses can be listened to by patron request.

Visit the collection at this link.

2022 Lecture Series
All lectures this season held in the Harmon Auxiliary Building
1325 E. Harmon Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89119
Room 110

April 11, 2021, 5:00 p.m.
Christopher Washburne
(Columbia University)
Latin Jazz: The Other Jazz

May 3, 2022, 5:00 p.m.
Robert Fink (UCLA)
Playlist Culture and the Art of Transition

Lecture Series
     Manuscripts and Unica
     Print Materials and Recordings
     Join our mailing list or volunteer

About the director
The Arnold Shaw Popular Music Research Center is directed by Jonathan Rhodes Lee, a member of the School of Music's Musicology Division. Professor Lee's specialties in popular music lie in film music, particularly American products. He is also an avid blues fan, and he struggles to play blues guitar in a passable fashion.
Image of Arnold Shaw, ca. 1982.
Photo of Arnold Shaw, ca. 1982.
Courtesy UNLV Special Collections and Archives

Arnold Shaw (1909–1989)

Arnold Shaw was a writer, music publishing executive, songwriter, and member of the UNLV faculty from 1979. Shaw is perhaps best known today for his fifteen influential books on popular music, including Honkers and Shouters: The Golden Years of Rhythm and Blues (Crowell-Collier, 1978), Black Popular Music in America (Schirmer, 1986), and The Jazz Age: Popular Music in the 1920s (Oxford University Press, 1987). At UNLV, he was beloved for his "Rap with the Artist" series, which brought well-known entertainers to interact with the university's students. Shaw's deposit of his tape archive and papers in 1985 founded the Popular Music Research Center, renamed in his honor in 1989.

Click here for more information about Shaw.