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 5: The dawn of the 1980s
seminar : listening group
01 July, 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 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)

In our final meeting, we will look at how the AACM changes in the late 1970s, responding to the challenges of sustaining continued musical creativity against both the shrinking cultural environment and the organisation’s own institutional nature. We'll check in with the AACM as it exists now, where it has become a storied Chicago institution, and listen to some of the recordings from the late 1970s that hint at the future development of these artists.

This week's listening:

  • Roscoe Mitchell – Nonaah (1977)
  • Chico Freeman – Chico (1977)
  • Art Ensemble of Chicago –Nice Guys (1978)
  • Air – Open Air Suit, Montreux Suisse (1978)