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Oberlin College
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Oberlin College

Type of Program and Degrees Offered

Ethnomusicology is part of the Division of Musicology within the Conservatory of Music at Oberlin College. Students from both the Conservatory of Music and College of Arts and Sciences can enroll in ethnomusicology offerings. Students wishing to concentrate in ethnomusicology may do so with:

  • A Minor in Ethnomusicology within the Conservatory Bachelor of Music Degree.
  • A Concentration in Ethnomusicology in Musical Studies Major in the College of Arts and Sciences, Bachelor of Arts.
  • An Individual Major in either the Conservatory or College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Students majoring in Ethnomusicology may elect to pursue honors, a year-long program of intensive study, generally structured around original research and involving the writing and defense of a thesis.

Special Resources

Oberlin College offers a number of resources to supplement study of ethnomusicology. These currently include but are not necessarily limited to:

• Roderic C. Knight Musical Instrument Collection

• A double Central Javanese gamelan ensemble, with both slendro and pelog scales

• A West Sumatran talempong (gong and drum) ensemble

• Extra-Curricular Courses (Excos, generally taught by students and non-faculty), student run organizations, and offering external to the Division of Musicology including

o Steel Drum Ensemble

o Taiko Ensemble

o Hindustani Music Exco (taught by Hasu Patel)

o Folk Music Club (sponsors a major festival every spring)

o Capoeira Angola with visiting professor Justin Emeka

o Dance Diaspora/Drumming Group

o Internalizing Rhythms with Jamie Haddad

• Workshops, guest artists, performances are ad-hoc

• Oberlin College encourages international experience for all students, achieved through:

o Study Abroad programs

o Winter Term programs

o Oberlin Shansi In-Asia Grants

Full-Time Faculty in Ethnomusicology

Jennifer Fraser. Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2007; Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology; Division of Musicology. West Sumatra/ Minangkabau, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Islam, Gender, Balkans.

Affiliated Faculty

Roderic Knight. Ph.D. UCLA, 1973; Professor Emeritus of Ethnomusicology; Division of Musicology. Music of the Mande (kora in particular), Central India, and organology.

General Program Statement

Ethnomusicological studies began at Oberlin in 1971 with the first faculty appointment in ethnomusicology, Sara Stalder, a Hindustani music specialist. In the same year, Oberlin bought a Javanese gamelan (slendro set) that was taught by Molly Johnson until 1987. In 1976, Sara Stalder left Oberlin and Roderic Knight succeeded her, teaching until his retirement in 2008. Upon retirement, Roderic Knight donated his instrument collection to Oberlin to enhance teaching. The collection is now available online. Jennifer Fraser, appointed as Knight’s replacement in 2007, is currently Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology.

The ethnomusicology program at Oberlin, a part of the Division of Musicology, offers course work and ensembles to students in both the College of Arts and Sciences and the Conservatory of Music. Many students pursue studies in ethnomusicology as part of their elective curriculum. Additionally, in the College of Arts and Sciences, students may elect to concentrate in ethnomusicology through the Musical Studies Major; in the Conservatory of Music, students may pursue a minor in ethnomusicology or design an individual major in the field.

Ethnomusicology draws on various modes of social and musical analysis, in addition to performance activities both within and outside the classroom, in the thoughtful consideration of music as both a liberal and a performance art. The local ethos of highly engaged teaching in the best liberal arts tradition is a guiding principle, with the counterpoint of our professional research enlivening and sustaining the discourse.

The current curriculum offers both an area and topical approaches to the study of ethnomusicology. Courses include:

• 100-level: Introduction to Musics of the World: Ethnomusicological Perspectives

o Separate courses are offered for students with musical backgrounds and those with limited musical backgrounds

• 200-level: area courses and classes devoted to conceptually oriented themes. These include:

o Music of the Balkans and the Middle East

o Music of India

o Music of Indonesia

o Music and Media since the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

o Music and the Politics of Identity

• 300 level: Theory and Method in Ethnomusicology

• Performance ensembles: Central Javanese gamelan and West Sumatran talempong


The department also sponsors related workshops, concerts, and talks. Campus events also include many "world music” and "folk music” concerts and other events. Many students supplement their campus studies with off-campus Winter Term projects and study abroad programs.

Further Information

Jennifer Fraser, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology (on leave ’10-11), 77 W. College St., Oberlin, OH, 44074 USA. Phone: (440) 775-6904; Email: jfraser@oberlin.edu

Department Secretary: LeeAnn Lubinski, 77 W College St, Oberlin OH 44074 USA. Phone: (440)755-8297. Email: llubinsk@oberlin.edu

Program Website

http://new.oberlin.edu/conservatory/departments/musicology/

Related Websites

Roderic Knight's homepage: http://www.oberlin.edu/faculty/rknight/

The Roderic C. Knight Musical Instrument Collection: http://www.oberlin.edu/library/digital/knight/

The content for Oberlin College was last updated June 23, 2010.

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