Mouth Blown and Bellows Blown: Free Reed Instruments in their Social Contexts

BFE Study day
Friday 6 November 2015
The Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

BFE Study Day 2015 Aberdeen Programme

Call for papers deadline: 
12 Jun 2015
Conference dates: 
6 Nov 2015
The Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, Scotland
Call for papers: 

The Elphinstone Institute, in association with the British Forum for Ethnomusicology, invite abstracts for our study day in Aberdeen, 6 November 2015.

Mouth Blown and Bellows Blown: Free Reed Instruments in their Social Contexts

Although small framed free reed instruments in Western Europe only came to prominence in the nineteenth century (with the exception of the Jew’s harp), the earliest mouth-blown instruments date back over 2000 years in East Asia. This family of instruments, which includes melodeons, button boxes and other diatonic accordions, concertinas, harmonicas, Jew’s harps, bandoneóns, Chinese shēng, Japanese shō and the Laotian khene, has gained widespread popularity but its status within musical culture has often been considered low in comparison to other instruments. This contention is one aspect which we would like to address during the study day. We are also interested in papers on the follow themes:

  • Free reed instruments in social life, including sacred, occupational, and entertainment contexts.

For example, nautical music-making and Salvation Army bands.

  • Repertoires of free reed instruments
  • Performance style and technique
  • Teaching and learning of free reed music
  • Free reed instruments in the historical context
  • Masters of tradition
  • Playing free reed instruments for dancing
  • Organology and manufacture of instruments
  • The representation of free reed instruments in the media
  • Their use in popular music forms including jazz and blues.
  • The relationship between social class and free reed instruments – for example, the use of the mouth organ by soldiers in the trenches during the First World War.