- Bachelor of Arts, University of Sydney, 1996
- Master of Arts, Ethnomusicology, Brown University, 1998
- PhD, Musicology, University of Illinois, 2007
Ethnomusicologist Jennifer Fraser has taught at the Oberlin Conservatory since 2007. She also holds a courtesy appointment in Oberlin College’s Department of Anthropology in recognition of the common ethnographic basis of inquiry.
Exposing students to new and diverse musical and cultural worlds, Fraser's classes are designed to challenge students to engage with music as both a sonic and social act. As an ethnomusicologist, she encourages students to think critically about why music matters to individuals and communities around the world, thus providing tools to engage with music in their own world in new ways.
Fraser's classes cover geographical regions (e.g., Music of Indonesia), specific themes (e.g., Music and Ecology), ethnographic research methods, and analysis of musics from around the world. At Oberlin, she also teaches the Central Javanese gamelan and the only ongoing talempong (West Sumatran kettle gong and drum ensemble) on a U.S. campus. Her pedagogical approach utilizes a range of techniques that require students to be engaged participants in their own learning. Believing deeply in the pedagogical power of visceral, on-site learning, she has taken students to Indonesia for winter term.
Fraser’s research focuses on the music of the Minangkabau, people who populate the province of West Sumatra, Indonesia, in relation to issues of ethnicity, education, gender, Islam, media, and natural disasters. Her work has appeared in journals such as Ethnomusicology and Ethnomusicology Forum, and she regularly presents at international and national ethnomusicology conferences. Her book, Sounding Minangkabau: Gongs and Pop in Indonesia, on the ways Minangkabau people use radically different sounding talempong ensembles to negotiate community, ethnicity, and their place in the world, will be published by the Ohio University Press in 2015. She currently serves on the Oberlin Shansi Board of Trustees and the Council for the Society for Ethnomusicology.
Grants and Awards
- Teaching Excellence Award, Oberlin College, 2009-10.
- Research Status, Oberlin College, 2010-11.
- International Dissertation Research Fellowship, Social Science Research Council (SSRC), 2003-04.
- Presser Music Award for Graduate Students, 2003-04.
- University Medal, University of Sydney, 1996.
- Sounding Minangkabau: Gongs and Pop in Indonesia. Ohio University Press. 2015
- "The Art of Grieving: West Sumatra's Worst Earthquake in Music Videos," Ethnomusicology Forum. 22(2): 129-159. 2013.
- "Pop Song as Custom: Weddings, Entrepreneurs, and Ethnicity in West Sumatra." Ethnomusicology 55(2): 200-228, 2011.
- “Hybridity and Emergent Traditions: Gongs, Pop Songs, and the Story of Talempong Kreasi in West Sumatra.” Proceedings of the 1st Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Performing Arts of Southeast Asia. ICTM Study Group on the Performing Arts of Southeast Asia. 31-36. 2011.
- “Talempong Transformations: Cultural Politics and Aesthetics,” in Mambangkik Batang Tarandam, Kumpulan Makalah Seminar Internasional Kebudayaan Minangkabau 2004 (Collection of Papers from International Seminar on Minangkabau Culture), Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia.
- “Discovering the Music of Indonesia,” CD Series Review, Bijdragen tot de taal-, land-en Volkenkunde. 160 (1): 160-175, 2004.
- “Talempong: West Sumatran Music,” Swara Bendhe, 6 (March 2004): 8-10.
- “Tracing Talempong in West Sumatra,” Latitudes, 44 (September 2004): 50-56.
Jennifer Fraser Gives Talk at Indonesian UniversityAugust 5, 2016
Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology and Anthropology Jennifer Fraser will deliver the talk “Playing with Men: Female Singers, Porno Lyrics, and the Male Gaze in a Sumatran Vocal Genre” on Wednesday, August 10, at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Fraser has been conducting research in Sumatra, Indonesia, for approximately five weeks.
More information about her talk can be found on the Gadja Mada University website.
Jennifer Fraser Publishes BookJuly 1, 2015
Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology and Anthropology Jennifer Fraser's book "Gongs & Pop Songs: Sounding Minangkabau in Indonesia" has been published by Ohio University Press. In the book, Fraser explores a little-known gong tradition from Sumatra called talempong, long associated with people who identify themselves as Minangkabau.
More information can be found on the Ohio University Press website.