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of Music In Difference and Repetition, Deleuze says, “For there is no other aesthetic problem than that of the insertion of art into everyday life” (293). I would like to take this claim seriously and investigate how it is operative in music. In A Thousand Plateaus (ATP) Deleuze and Guattari (D&G) assert, “Music…uproots the refrain from its territoriality. Music is a creative, active operation that consists in deterritorializing the refrain” (300). In order to unpack this brief but dense claim, we must first grasped what is meant by refrain and territory. But in so doing we will find that we must wrestle with numerous concepts created by D&G in their attempt to generate an ontology of music. I propose following Nick Nesbitt’s approach “following Deleuze’s own prescription: to take concepts as various tools, and see what they might bring to our understanding of various (musical) events” (55). In the end I will suggest that in the history of Western music, the combination of the twelve-tone serial music of Arnold Schoenberg and the indeterminate chance music of John Cage mark the complete deterritorialization of the refrain and, ultimately, of Western music, thus infinitely broadening the potential to both create and hear new forms of music as perceptive and affective forms of expression—and that in everyday life. This claim will become clearer after some explication. Let us begin with the concept of territory. D&G define a territory as any marked off space, essentially any frame of space and/or time, enclosed within a border. Such a framing or territorialization is expressive. What is expressed is an articulation or claiming of a region, a bloc that has the function of pronouncing something or other for any variety of purposes. Elizabeth
music disrupts the territory the refrain encloses. (2) Territorialized function refrains that assume a special function in the assemblage. Before delving into how music takes up and disrupts the refrain we need to further understand the nature of refrains and how D&G view art in general. Yet. Its relation to music is integral and complex. the buzzing of a bee or the scream of one in joy or pain. joy. We have already noted the first classification in which a frame of expression is produced. warding if off. the kind of expression expressed. The refrain is…a means of preventing music. a marking of expressed enclosure. (3) the same. or in order to go outside it (these refrains of confrontation or departure that sometimes bring on a movement of absolute deterritorialization…) (ATP 326-7). forms a block with the becoming-child of music (ATP 300). possibly to the extent that it expands beyond 2 . fear. territory…but the refrain itself is the content of music (ATP 300). the consequence not of a naturally selected “territorial imperative” but of an artistic movement: the creation of a marker” (48). The third classification involves either the destruction of the territory and/or the configuration of a new one. when they mark new assemblages. a becoming. The refrain operates in the dual function of acting as content and blockage of music by way of four different methods: Refrains could be classified as follows: (1) Territorial refrains that seek. because music takes up the refrain. The child’s refrain.Grosz says. (4) refrains that collect or gather forces. The fourth classification is a concentration of a territory to the extent that it intensifies its expression. lays hold of it as a content in a form of expression. which is not music. pass into new assemblages by means of deterritorialization-reterritorialization. mark. the block of content proper to music…The motif of the refrain may be anxiety. or forgoing it. then the refrain must already be a territory. “Territory is artistically inscribed. While taking the refrain as its content. love. work. The refrain is a sonic territory. If music deterritorializes the refrain. The second classification focuses on the function the marks the boundaries of a territory. But music exists because the refrain exists also. it is also works to prevent the actualization of music: …the refrain is properly musical content. assemble a territory. either at the heart of the territory. the motif one hums to comfort themselves at work. walking. While acting as the content of music. because it forms a block with it in order to take it somewhere else.
as Elizabeth Grosz notes.” (What is Philosophy? 164). what art makes. This change in state must be unique. they are independent of a state of those who experience them. We can further suggest that all expression and creativity. This is why D&G assert that.its own boundaries. From the division of a cell to the performance of Mozart’s Requiem. D&G say of percepts and affects that. by the challenges faced by the creator in the task of making something new” (Bogue 3). art is composed of materials. 3 . “Each art he defines by its problems. Of course. sounds. Affects are no longer feelings of affections: they go beyond the strength of those who undergo them. the reality of actuality. independent of its creator and of the circumstances of its creation” (59). broadly construed. posing the problem for the artist to create something new. In What is Philosophy? D&G view art as blocs of percepts and affects. is the constitution of life. We might say that the affects produced in the act of a work’s producing is the proper content of art. What is offered in this classification is a description of the emergence of art (4) out of a progression stretching back to the most basics forms of expression. broadly construed. “…the sensations and affects do not in themselves make up art (on the contrary. “Art enables the full spiritualization and dematerialisation of life” (105). colors. for if the artist did not add new varieties producing new affects they would not be artists and their work would no be art. Peter Hallward argues that art does not interpret or represent reality but rather makes it. To quote Hallward. or reality as actuality. “The artist is always adding new varieties to the world” (What is Philosophy? 175). independent of the artist or audience. textures. “Percepts are no longer perceptions. The production of an affect requires a becoming in the being affected. what enables art to stand on its own. is being formed through expression and creativity. They are the products of art. melodies and not affects or sensations). Following Deleuze.
Following Leonard Lawler’s reading of major as the “global” state of being. This applies for the generation of cell division as much for the human artist: the act of creation must be an act of necessity in and for itself. This is why to become is to become something minor. nor dependent upon some external foundation. the producer of “blocs of sensations. then takes it down a creative line that is so much richer. the process of becoming. because it must create a becoming out of precepts and affects. The expressive nature of territorializing is the aesthetic. This movement is deterritorializing. no origin or end of which is in sight…” (ATP 302). any becoming would consist in “becoming-minor. “If the refrain protects us from chaos and entices us to abide and enjoy in a region provisionally enclosed from chaos. for what we are is already the major or dominant form of our being. This is why art must be novel. Deterritorialization. the way it lays hold of the refrain. “…Music is precisely the adventure of the refrain: the way music lapses into a refrain. This is what determines if the product stands or falls in the flow of time. hence Deleuze’s focus on artist rather than critics and audiences. The sensations occur through becoming.Hallward also highlights two important points of Deleuze’s conception of art: that is must be both novel and autonomous. For Deleuze to become is a move from what one is to what one isn’t. Reception is secondary. to the opening up and exploration of chaotic elements” (Grosz 56).” independent of consciousness. The novel and autonomous qualities of art must be necessarily so in order to give it eternal standing as genuine creativity. Art cannot be a bare repetition. The continual need for new forms 4 . from the movement of major to minor. making of both our bodies and of the earth itself a new site of becomings toward a differently contained and directed chaos. reduced to a few notes. yet instantiated therein. makes it more and more sober.” of what one is already not. music opens up and transforms us. occurs through a change in what D&G call percepts and affects.
the duet. 2 “The song is like a rough sketch of a calming and stabilizing. yet still centered around an identifiable tonal center. the organization of a wall or barrier. Romanticism begins to break rhythmically by dancing around the measure and tonally by exploring new possibilities of tonal invention. hierarchic reflection of an ordered and hierarchic cosmos. Romanticism. the sonata. ditties. to the song. and Modernism. beyond the smallness of the refrain and on. Platonic approach to the subject” (16). citing three stages. a transgression of what has been or currently is. beyond territory. then. In each of these stages we find a break with the former. genres. the tune. a mark of new expression. D&G suggest they …have tried to define in the case of Western music (although the other musical traditions confront an analogous problem. performances” (Grosz 54). calm and sable.of expression produces a history of musical change. “In virtually every regard. to forms as yet not even conceivable on the plane of composition. both musically. peoples. D&G suggest music is always already a fleeing from the bounds of any such posited system into and out of chaos2—in the case of western music that of the tonal center of a work of 1 “Refrains. In the Classical stage we are at a point of a fixed tonal center and a rhythm tamed by a steady measure.1 D&G offer a traditional reading of Western musical development. Becoming-music is always a deterritorialization. of music’s historical evolution. the symphony. under different conditions. that shape the vibrations of milieus into that harmonics of territories. The evolution of musical theories of correlative with musical development. center in the heart of chaos” (ATP 5 . races. melodious patterns. bodily movements. Music is the reverse movement. are the theories that territorialized musical possibilities. While the Platonic approach seeks to discover the perfect harmonic system as expressed in an ordered. the liberation of these harmonic and rhythmic patterns from their originating location and their placement into a double movement. and so on. Romanticism reaches its apex with the rhythmic variations of Brahms and the indecipherable (multiple) tonal centers in the later works of Wagner (the “Tristan Chord”). The systems escaped from in the becoming of music. Ronald Bogue is correct in suggesting that. are rhythmic. Classicism. small chants. and spatio-temporally. Deleuze and Guattari’s treatment of music is the antithesis of the traditional. to which they find different solutions) a block of becoming at the level of expression. or a block of expression: this block of becoming rests on transversals that continually escape from the coordinates or punctual systems functioning as musical codes at a given moment” (ATP 299). to individuals. other forms of music. With Modernism we find a complete break with both measured rhythm and tonal centers.
Debussy-universe. among others. a powerful song of the earth—the deterritorialized—which arises with Mahler. And no doubt in each case the plane of composition generates new closures. I will proceed to explain why believe this to be the case. domestic. that it is with Arnold Schoenberg and John Cage that Modernism reaches the apex of its deterritorialization of tonality and opens up infinite directions and dimensions by which music can be conceived and composed. greatly contributed to the move to Modernism in Western music. a domain” out of chaos” (Lingus 280). “Tonality is no natural law of music. D&G suggest that the transition from Romanticism to Modernism begins with Wagner and Debussy: The work of the plane of composition develops in two directions that involve a disaggregation of the tonal frame: the immense uniform areas of continuous variation that couple and combine the forces that have become sonorous Wagner. I would like to suggest that while these composers. He says “this is a music of sheer immanence in which each musical moment arises out of another without reference to an external source or stylistic authority…” (61). and Bartok. Berg. 6 . All the tunes. territorial—are swept up in the great Refrain. It is a complete undoing of the hierarchy caused by the imposed need for tonal centers to ground musical composition. and that from this apex an ever growing number of percepts and affects can be produced. but with two caveats: that Schoenberg and Cage did not reach their respective points in Western music history alone. eternally valid” (9). national. all the little framing and framed refrains—childish.3 While citing Wagner’s “Tristan chord” (in which five tonalities are played at once. or broken tones that separate and disperse the forces by harmonizing their reversible passages in Debussy—Wagner universe. as in serial music (What is Philosophy? 190). and that other composers both helped form the ground and extend the compositional methods of these two 3 311). Schoenberg himself says.music. making each and none a tonal center) as the initial break with traditional tonality. professional. Nick Nesbitt recognizes Schoenberg’s twelve-tone serial music as the final destruction of the hegemony of classical tonality. “Art fundamentally “constitutes a dwelling.
a natural law of music…(2) it is essential that the pupil learn thoroughly the basis of this effect [tonality] and how to attain it (Schoenberg 27). Schoenberg’s theoretical intention is in line with his artistic achievement. of consonances domination 4 “The period of ‘free-atonal’ composition — more accurately composition freely using the twelve-tone scale previous to Schoenberg’s development of the twelve-tone serial row — refers to a method of composition in which all twelve chromatic tones are employed without reference to a transcendent diatonic scale or need for specific resolutions. Tonality is a formal possibility that emerges from the nature of the tonal material. consider tonality an eternal law. To realize this possibility it is necessary to use in the course of a piece only those sounds and successions of sounds. I will maintain that these two composers together reached a point in musical composition that hold the particular place my thesis claims them to hold. this is a music of sheer immanence in which each musical moment arises out of another without reference to an external source or stylistic authority…” (Nesbitt 61). but also the point at which each of the twelve tonal pitches in Western music is given equal weight. to the tonic of the piece. a possibility of attaining a certain completeness or closure by means of a certain uniformity. “…Univocity in no sense implies uniformity. whose relations to the fundamental tone of the key. Nonetheless. In this sense. can be grasped without difficulty. In other words it is impossible for there to be a tonal center. unblocking the evolution of music. and those only in a suitable arrangement. On the contrary: univocity is affirmed as the basis and medium for a primordial and unlimited differentiation” (Hallward 12). and the series can be given any rhythmic scheme. This equality is accomplished with Schoenberg’s serial compositions in which music is composed by starting with a linear arrangement of the twelve pitches. the point of tonality. With Schoenberg we not only reach the point of complete breakage with tonal music. there is no tonal center of gravity. Subsequently.composers as mentioned in the quote of D&G cited above. Serial music as univocity of a system of tones recognizes each tone as equal in difference to all others. No tonality can be given privileged over the others. He has freed the ear of the need for resolution of dissonance. 7 . I shall be compelled to take issue with various aspects of tonality and can therefore confine my remarks here to just two points: (1) I do not. In so doing the difference of each tone is given equal weight. This follows Deleuze’s notion of univocity. or both. each without repetition. as apparently all theorists before me have done. Each tone is free from the bondage of any other tone.4 This arrangement can be reversed. inverted.
dissonance—while at the same time producing effects of becoming that are liberating. unstableness. we need only cite two passages from Harmony: His insistence to “again and again…begin at the beginning. or by allowing silence to make evident the sounds that are consistently surrounding us.over dissonance. if they always serve only to block the evolution of art…” (9) are both telling of his approach to music theory and philosophy/critique. for example. That composition is necessarily experimental. puts too much in. To be frank. and tension—in short. may at times go “too far” so that it remains a territorial refrain. nor do I believe that it is intended to be so. and opening. Cage writes about the experimental aspect of his music: “…composition…is indeterminate with respect to its performance. but Western music in general. Rather. works with a jumble of lines and sounds. nature of the objects…(this even applies to Cage’s prepared piano) (ATP 343-4). this need not hinder its freeing of tonality: “…there may be an advantage in being able to restrict oneself to a very determinate zone in some circumstances. again and again…examine anew for ourselves and attempt to organize anew for ourselves” (8) and his exclamation “To hell with all these theories. by placing notes where a fly happens to land on a piece of staff paper. then instead producing a cosmic machine capable of “rendering sonorous. a scramble effacing all sounds…A material that is too rich remains too “territorialized”: on noise surfaces.” one lapses back to a machine of reproduction that winds up reproducing nothing but a scribble effacing all lines. it produces affects of uneasiness. pure serial music is not pleasant to listen to. 6 Sometimes one overdoes it. While Schoenberg used a precise and strict structure to free each tonality. upset.5 John Cage introduced the element of indeterminacy with his “chance music” which occurs both at the level of composition and performance. A composition can be written. Being unforeseen. Although serial music involves a strict structure. freeing. Cage does away with the need for predetermined structure all together. An experimental action is one the outcome of which is not foreseen. such as Cage. and in others to widen or deepen the zone to assure oneself counterpoint and to invent chords that would other wise diffuse…” (ATP 331). 8 . this action is not concerned with its 5 To give evidence to Schoenberg’s intention.6 I believe Cage’s introduction of chance music or indeterminacy deterritorializes not only the refrain. Although D&G suggest that composers.
in which he advocates the affirmation of difference. inversely. Reterritorialization. As D&G quote Cezanne. the creation of music can follow any particular approach or method. a complete deterritorialization. This quote unknowingly echoes a related passage found in Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition: It is rather a question of a throw of the dice. of the whole sky as open space and of throwing as the only rule…To abolish chance is to fragment it according to laws of probability over several throws. or still. This is not to say they are the limits that restrict musical composition. and in so doing free the field of musical composition to an everopening expanse.excuse…” (39). Or. The results will produce affects. mark the limits of musical expression as a human act of artistic creation. forms of sensation. “Not a “minute of the world passes that we will not preserve if we do not become that minute” (ATP 169). at the moment of their recognition as music. they are the limits that allow future composers the capability to experiment in an infinite number of approaches and creative directions. And at times “…nature is also 9 . percepts. under any circumstance and outcome. in such a way that the problem is already dismembered into hypotheses of win and loss…By contrast. variation. but rather. need not follow any particular compositional approach. we can imagine any conjunction of sounds as expressive. This affirmation of chance is integral to Deleuze’s philosophy of difference. or newness in reterroritoriaizations. This is the complete deterritorialization of Western music. By freeing music from any tonal center. and by freeing music from the need for any tones at all. Together. can been understood and felt as he music of everyday life. I suggest the consequence of this complete deterritorilization of musical composition is two-fold: First. the throw of the dice affirms the whole of chance each time…The most difficult thing is to make chance an object of affirmation…When chance is sufficiently affirmed the player can no longer lose… (198). these two methods of strict structure and intentional absence of prescribed structure. Second. it opens our ears to hear the audible expressions of sound in general that may at one time. others to unmasked chaos. it opens up the potential of music composition to infinite possibility. Some will bring us closer to the ground. some to the cosmos. or the creation of music. of chance.
” marks the beginning of a new one. but also a capability to hear music of the past anew. I read this quote as making the claim that is the becomings produced by art that break us free from bare repetitions and static modes of being. and 7 “…subject[ing] oneself to the destructive force of the contradiction. art will not only produce new forms of affect. We can bring out the past in new shapes and forms by affirming the possibilities for becoming. In conclusion I would like to come back to Deleuze’s quote at the opening this paper. Schoenberg and Cage have made both these claims immanent in Western music. Schoenberg and Cage offer us not only the ability to hear new forms of audible affects. 10 . to perceive the plane of the pure event. expansion. by affirming the difference or becoming it produced. and development of a world or individual. We can now deterritorialize in any direction. but also bring art into the everyday world. It reads: For there is no other aesthetic problem than that of the insertion to everyday life. In doing so. past. the more art must be injected into it in order to extract from it that little difference which plays simultaneously between other levels of repetition. “…Ultimate repetitions of death…” are the changing of ourselves. or background. and even to make the to extremes resonate —namely. where we can here and make sounds that would otherwise be heard as noise. In becoming nothing is lost that allows itself to become with new becomings. the becoming of ourselves. and then to the ultimate repetitions of death in which our freedom is played out (Difference and Repetition 293). to run up against a logically impossible…the point of which is to attempt to break through the sedentary fixations of subjectivity. present. at its stage in the development of Western music.beautiful where we do not understand her and where she seems unordered” (Schoenberg 30). nuisance. into new worlds and selves. stereotyped and subject to an accelerated reproduction of objects of consumption. The more our daily life appears standardized. “A freedom for the end of a world. the habitual series of consumption and the instinctual series of destruction and death…a freedom for the end of a world…[Art] lead[s] us from the sad repetitions of habit to the profound repetitions of memory. as music.7 This continual becoming is nothing short than the education. but it is still up to the listener to choose to accept or affirm the new forms of listening and hearing the composers offer. the transcendental plane of the univocity of being that itself founds the fixed self-same subject” (Nesbitt 56). out of which new selves are born again.
Painting. Bibliography Bogue. and the Arts. John. Wesleyan University Press: Hanover NH. Silence. Columbia University Press: New York. 1994. A Thousand Plateaus. Gilles. Deleuze. Trans. Deleuze on Music. 1973. Routledge: NY. Brian Massumi. Deleuze. Trans. Aul Patton. Cage. University of 11 .future. Ronald. Gilles and Felix Guattari. Difference and Repetition. 2003.
Peter. 2008. Foltz and Robert Frodeman. Ed. Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh. Alphonso. Elizabeth. Arnold. Out of this World: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Creation. “Deleuze. Grosz. Trans. Bruce V. Chaos. Schoenberg. Ed. Art. Adorno. Columbia University Press: New York. Verso: NY. University of California Press: Berkeley. Lingus. Indiana University Press: Bloomington. Hallward. Carter. Ian Buchanan and Marcel Swiboda.Minnesota Press: Minneapolis. 12 . Territory. 2004. Nesbitt. and the Composition of Musical Multiplicity. 2006. 1987. Roy E. “The Music of Space. 1984. Theory of Harmony.” Deleuze and Music. 2004.” Rethinking Nature. Nick.
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