Jeph Jerman

May 2nd
Fairchild Chapel

8:30 – Jeph Jerman solo
9:15 – An Animist Orchestra ft. Oberlin College and Conservatory Students



Born January 16, 1959 Agana, Guam

“I have had no formal musical instruction, save two years of drum lessons at around age 13. At 16 I began playing drums and percussion in what would become a long line of dance bands, while at the same time forming and participating in ensembles whose music was decidedly less commercial. The best known of these ensembles are probably Big Joey, formed in 1986, which played entirely improvised songs, and Blowhole, formed in 1991, whose modus operandi included strict improvising as well as more formally structured musical pieces and games.

I began investigating sound in a more expansive way on my own, recording and releasing work under the name Hands To on my own and others’ record labels. In 1996 I ended up in Seattle Washington, where I fell in with the local improvised music community. It was here that I believe I really learned how to play, and more importantly, to listen. Becoming less and less interested in conventional drumming, I began to find ways to lessen my control over what I was playing. I began finding sound that “just happened” of much more interest to me than sounds that were meant to be expressive. I became enamored of very quiet sounds and began giving solo performances using only objects found in nature. I have continued this practice to the present. In 1999 I formed the animist orchestra, an ensemble of shifting membership founded for the purpose of making sound with only natural objects.

I have also in recent years begun working on sound installations, small systems that run themselves and change subtly over time. My main interest remains in what happens when we listen.” – Jeph Jerman


Arizona-based improviser Jeph Jerman founded animist orchestra in 1999 while living in Seattle. Using only unamplified natural objects as instruments – rocks, shells, feathers, seeds, twigs, etc. – the group’s aim is to create a listening environment that is not based on traditional musical notions such as the sharing of emotion or the demonstration of instrumental prowess. Rather, they make sound to listen to, intuitively and with the simplest of means.

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