Thursday, June 19, 2008

AACM Historical

I've just finished reading George Lewis's superb history of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music. Lewis has really filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge of an experimental musical culture that has alternated for decades between intersection and movement parallel to the experimental tradition with which I identify. His discussion of the relationship between these two experimental music communities is quite pointed at times, talking with welcome frankness about issues of race, class, and gender; I don't agree with him on many points here, particularly given the marginal economic and music-political status of all experimental musicians with regard to the larger musical world, but it is an excellent opening to a discussion that is just beginning. Lewis's balance between a scholar's objective engagement with the historical record and recollection of his own personal engagement is a model.

I would now really like to read a more detailed theoretical/analytical work on the repertoire and musical techniques developed in the AACM and the larger community to which it connects. Or, better yet, some pedagogical materials -- scores and parts, as well as aids in teaching composition and improvisation -- ought to be developed, to widen the appreciation for this tradition, as well as to better balance out the treatment of African-American music in schools, which has long emphasized a rather narrowly defined "jazz" repertoire and an even-more narrowly defined style for playing that music.

1 comment:

Steve Smith said...

Nice post, Daniel. Looking forward to reading Lewis's book myself. Regarding scores and parts, you might want to investigate what Petr Kotik has used in performing works by Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell (repeatedly), Leroy Jenkins and others with his S.E.M. Ensemble in Brooklyn. I have no particular insight into this, but it may provide a lead of some kind.