Experimental Music in Black and White: The AACM in New York, 1970-1985

Lewis, George E.

Since its founding on the virtually all-black South Side of Chicago in
1965, the African American musicians' collective known as the Association
for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) has played an unusually
prominent role in the development of American experimental music.
The composite output of AACM members explores a wide range of
methodologies, processes, and media. AACM musicians have developed
new ideas about timbre, sound, collectivity, extended technique and instrumentation,
performance practice, intermedia, the relationship of improvisation
to composition, form, scores, computer music technologies,
invented acoustic instruments, installations, and kinetic sculptures.
In a 1973 article, two early AACM members, trumpeter John Shenoy
Jackson and co-founder and pianist/composer Muhal Richard Abrams, asserted
that, "The AACM intends to show how the disadvantaged and the
disenfranchised can come together and determine their own strategies for
political and economic freedom, thereby determining their own destinies"
(Abrams and Jackson 1973:72). This optimistic declaration, based on notions
of self-help as fundamental to racial uplift, cultural preservation, and
spiritual rebirth, was in accord with many other challenges to traditional
notions of order and authority that emerged in the wake of the Black
Power Movement.



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Columbia University
Published Here
November 19, 2014