Oberlin Hosts Ethnomusicologists' Midwest Conference March 24-26

March 22, 2017

Erich Burnett

professor Jennifer Fraser
Ethnomusicology professor Jennifer Fraser has led winter term studies in Indonesia with Oberlin students. She is seen here (in white) playing a talempong.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Jennifer Fraser

Oberlin Conservatory will serve as host to a conference of the Midwest Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology, or MIDSEM, March 24 through 26. All events are free and open to the public.

The conference was organized by Jennifer Fraser, MIDSEM president and Oberlin Conservatory associate professor of ethnomusicology and anthropology, along with a program committee representing Wayne State University, the University of Illinois, Bowling Green State University, DePaul University, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

A keynote address will be presented by Aaron A. Fox, associate professor of music and director of the center for ethnomusicology at Columbia University. Fox’s talk, titled "Ways of Hearing: Decolonizing the Ethnomusicological Archive,” will take place at 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 25, in Stull Recital Hall. This presentation will offer a broad view of repatriation and recovery projects undertaken in recent years by activists and ethnomusicologists working with archives of recorded sound. It will connect the history of recording and collecting Native American music in the early 20th century to the later Cold War context, in which contemporary ethnographic ethnomusicology emerged in its current institutionalized form.

Other highlights include:

4:30 p.m. Friday: A panel entitled “Contemporary Popular Music and Social Change” will be led by Katherine Meizel of Bowling Green State University. It happens in Bibbins Hall Room 223. At the same time, Fraser will lead a workshop on learning to play talempong in Bibbins 238.

10:30 a.m. Saturday: A workshop will be presented by Oberlin Emeritus Professor of Ethnomusicology Roderic Knight titled “YAHOO: Yet Another Hornbostel Organology Ouevre,” a hands-on primer on the Knight-Revision of Hornbostel-Sachs. It takes place in Bibbins Hall Room 224, and an associated display will be available for viewing throughout the weekend.

A tour, called “Tamburas of Eurasia: Tracing a Musical Instrument Family from India to the Czech Republic,” will begin immediately following the workshop. It will be led by Ian MacMillen, director of the Oberlin Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies.

1:30 p.m. Saturday: A roundtable discussion called “Community-Engaged Projects: From Pedagogy to Practice” will take place in Bibbins Hall Room 237. It will include Jennifer Fraser, Associate Professor of Music Education Jody Kerchner, Kathryn Metz of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Oberlin students Zola Barnes, Catherine Lytle, and Emily Edelstein.

Complete program information can be found at the MIDSEM website.

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