Dissertation Index

Author: Steinbeck, Paul

Title: Urban Magic: The Art Ensemble of Chicago's Great Black Music

Institution: Columbia University

Begun: May 2006

Completed: May 2008


This dissertation is an analytical and interpretive study of the Art Ensemble of Chicago's distinctive multi-disciplinary performance practice. In this dissertation I analyze and interpret three pivotal Art Ensemble performances: a 1969 studio album, a 1972 concert audio recording, and a 1981 concert video. I contend that Art Ensemble performances are structured around compositional/improvisational "interactive frameworks," which encompass the music-structural, the interpersonal, and the multimedia qualities of Art Ensemble performance practice. I also show that the members of the Art Ensemble articulate interactive frameworks in performance primarily through group-interactive processes of "convergence" and "divergence." Throughout the dissertation, I historically and culturally contextualize Art Ensemble performance practice by chronicling the social and artistic scenes experienced by the band: Chicagos Bronzeville, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), 1960s bohemian cultures and the Black Arts Movement, Vietnam War-era Paris, and the international experimental-music scene. This dissertation breaks new ground as the most extensive study of the Art Ensembles music and as a comprehensive cultural history of the group.

Keywords: Art Ensemble of Chicago, analysis of improvisation, analysis of multimedia, Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), performance practice, cultural history


Introduction: "Listening to the Art Ensemble of Chicago"
Chapter 1: "The South Side Scene"
Malachi Favors
Joseph Jarman
Roscoe Mitchell
School Days
Meeting Richard Abrams
The Association, I
Chapter 2: "Art Ensembles"
A Concert Showcase for Original Contemporary Music
Lester Bowie
The Roscoe Mitchell Art Ensemble
The Association, II
Joseph Jarman Quartet(s)
Chapter 3: "The Art Ensemble of Paris"
Musician Sells Out!
Entering the City
Analysis: A Jackson in Your House
Recordings, Festivals, Brigitte
Don Moye
On the Road, I
Chapter 4: "Great Black Music"
Coming Home
Analysis: Live at Mandel Hall
On the Road, II
Funky AECO
Chapter 5: "The Tree Structure"
Side Projects
A Fascinating Commodity
Analysis: Live from the Jazz Showcase
Live from the Jazz Showcase
Conclusion: "Immm"
Appendix 1: A Note on the Transcriptions
Appendix 2: Instrument List, A Jackson in Your House
Appendix 3: Instrument List, Live at Mandel Hall
Appendix 4: Instrument List, Live from the Jazz Showcase


Paul Steinbeck
School of Music
The University of British Columbia
6361 Memorial Road,
Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z2


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