This study of the AACM is intended to illustrate some of the strategies black musicians used in negotiating the complex, diverse, and unstable environment of contemporary musical experimentalism. The book documents both the ongoing relevance of 1960s changes in power relations, and the effort to erase the importance of those changes via corporate-backed canon formation efforts that often seem deliberately distanced from notions of musical value and influence collectively developed by communities of artists. This book is not only a personal product, but also the result of consultations with a diverse, internationally articulated community of artists, listeners and viewers, supporters, critics, and even detractors. It is a reconstructive project, performed to help me recover my roots, uncover retentions, and discover my own musical foreparents.
I do not pretend to speak for the AACM, and this book does not represent the “official AACM point of view.” I try to let the members' own experiences and words tell the story, but at the same time, affirming my own interpretive function is the only truthful standpoint I can assume. In the course of my research, I needed to keep in mind that this is the documentation of a community of which I am a member, and thus, even while maintaining a critical orientation, the most important responsibility of researchers to the communities they document is to “do no harm.” In that light, I cannot recuse myself