A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music

By George E. Lewis | Go to book overview

afterword

The Way of the Arranger

A few years back, the saxophonist and electronic musician Steve Coleman was in constant communication with my UCSD graduate students. One of his e-mails to them contained the reminder that in evaluating the impact of a musical movement (or perhaps any movement), one was obliged to consider not only what the movement did, but also what it tried (and perhaps failed) to do. As we have seen, one major thing that AACM musicians “tried” to do was to survive and even thrive while (a) pursuing their art and (b) controlling the means of its production. These goals are, in fact, intertwined with another important goal—that of affecting the discourses surrounding and mediating the activity of the African American artist.

In fact, none of these goals are likely to be realized without pursuing the others, and I'd like to invoke James Clifford's influential essay “On Ethnographic Authority” as a touchstone for establishing my working method for an interim evaluation of the collective's legacy. “One increasingly common way to manifest the collaborative production of ethnographic knowledge,” Clifford writes, “is to quote regularly and at length from informants.”

But such quotations are always staged by the quoter, and tend to
serve merely as examples, or confirming testimonies. Looking

-497-

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A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface - The AACM and American Experimentalism ix
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Introduction - An AACM Book: Origins, Antecedents, Objectives, Methods xxiii
  • Chapter Summaries xxxv
  • 1: Foundations and Prehistory 1
  • 2: New Music, New York 29
  • 3: The Development of the Experimental Band 55
  • 4: Founding the Collective 85
  • 5: First Fruits 115
  • 6: The AACM Takes Off 163
  • 7: Americans in Paris 215
  • 8: The AACM's Next Wave 259
  • 9: The AACM in New York 325
  • 10: The New Regime in Chicago 389
  • 11: Into the Third Decade 440
  • 12: Transition and Reflections 481
  • Afterword 497
  • Appendix A - Interviews Conducted by the Author 515
  • Appendix B - Selected AACM Recordings 519
  • Notes 525
  • Bibliography 601
  • Index 637
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