Music Territorializes Time: Deleuze. Thought of the Day 19.0


Deleuze speaks of music expressed through pulsed and non-pulsed time. Pulsed time, or Chronos, is “territorialized time,” the “marking” of time through measure and repetition/return (“ritornello”) that is one expression of musically performative “time because it’s fundamentally the way in which a sonorous form, however simple it may be, marks a territory.” He continues, “Each time that there is a marking of a territoriality, there will be a pulsation of time.” If pulsed time is also musical time, and if both pulsed and musical time is territorial, what can be inferred of proximity?

Territorialization is the assemblage of proximities, in Deleuze and Guattari’s formation, bodies formed through not merely the association but the complicity of parts in their nearness to one another that make up bodies/territories distinct from other bodies/territories. Musical performance territorializes time because the performance of music takes (“appropriates”) embedded times in proximity (the curvature of the rate of change) and creates a body of aesthetic sound and practice distinct from non-territorialized or deterritorialized sound (the noises of traffic and machines or of digestive processes may have musically performative possibilities but are not themselves music or part of a musical territory without coming together through proximities to shared and changing time, to shared and changing space).

Deleuze reminds his listeners that territorialization (and thus pulsed time) may be embedded in measurement but is also contained in “development.” “[A]s soon as you can fix a sonorous form, determinable by its internal coordinates, for example melody-harmony, as soon as you can fix a sonorous form endowed with intrinsic properties, this form is subject to developments, by which it is transformed into other forms or enters into relation or again is connected to other forms, and here, following these transformations and these connections, you can fix pulsations of time.” Pulsations of time, or Chronos, then become even more subject to musical proximities that change in response to one another, an echo of borderswerving’s relationship to borderlinking.

Non-pulsed time, Aion, is defined rather by deterritorialization and the taking apart of “sonorous form.” Deleuze relates non-pulsed time to velocity, recalling the rate of change described by DeLanda and the dromoscopy of Paul Virilio. Aionic time is part of what Deleuze terms the “mixture” of time; Aion and Chronos blend together in a musical territorializing that is also a deterritorializing, and in these opposite yet proximal movements are proximities of becoming and unmaking. The experience of participating in a musical performance as a whole (instruments, performers, audience, composition, context, etc.) and as its component parts (notes, phrases, measures, dynamics, individual characteristics of performers and instruments) is the experience of this mixed time.

And yet, not all mixed time is musical, and not all sounds in proximity are musical. For music to occur, aesthetic proximities must become aware of their possibilities for becoming and unmaking, must perceive the friction and soothing of their near surfaces. As Deleuze questions, “¿Cuando [sic] deviene musical una voz? Yo diría, desde el punto de vista de la expresión, que la voz musical es esencialmente una voz desterrito- rializada. ¿Qué quiere decir eso? Pienso que hay cosas que aún no son música y que, sin embargo, están muy próximas a la música.” (When does a voice become musical? I would say, from the point of view of expression, that the musical voice is essentially a deterritorialized voice. Why does one want to say that? I think that there are things that are not music, and that nevertheless are very close to music.)


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