Ptarmigan is no longer operating in Helsinki.

Ptarmigan existed as a project space in Vallila from 2009-2011 and a mobile curatorial/creative platform until 2014. We no longer exist as an organised collective, but this website will continue to serve as an archive of the activities produced as/at Ptarmigan during these years.

AACM seminar week 3: A brain for the Seine
seminar : listening group
17 June, 2013 00:00 19:00

** Seminar will be available for remote participation via Skype! Please register here and include your Skype username to be invited to the call! **

This is a seminar/class that will meet several times this summer to explore the evolution of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). The meetings will begin in the mid-late 1960’s and follow the development of the AACM, mainly looking at the Art Ensemble of Chicago as central figures, up through the late 1970s.

Each week we will listen together to AACM recordings, discuss our thoughts and ideas, and share food and drink. The principal text will be George E. Lewis’s book A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music, but we will supplement each meeting with additional readings that span theory, criticism and other themes related to their work. We will explicitly examine the organisational elements of the AACM, as an association that supports artistic research against the grain of commercial pressure, seeking strategies that may be applicable to our creative ventures today. Additionally, we’ll look for parallel developments in non-AACM art and music from these times.



  1. Before the Art Ensemble (3 June)
  2. The new sound of Chicago (10 June)
  3. A brain for the Seine (17 June)
  4. The 1970s in America (24 June)
  5. The dawn of the 1980s (1 July)

Some AACM musicians traveled to Paris in 1969, where the Art Ensemble of Chicago solidified, and they underwent their most fruitful period of musical exploration. Anthony Braxton, Leroy Jenkins, Leo Smith and Steve McCall also worked in Paris at this time, playing in various group formations, and with Paris-based musicians. In France, their music was enthusiastically appreciated, though the reception of black American art in Europe was often problematic, tinged with an artificial exoticism.

This week's listening:

  • Art Ensemble of Chicago – A Message To Our Folks, A Jackson in Your House, People in Sorrow (1969)
  • Art Ensemble of Chicago – The Paris Sessions, Les Stances a Sophie, Live in Paris (1970/71)