Gilles Deleuze and becoming-music

Peter Nelson

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Music is a critical human enterprise. As such, it is no accident that philosophy deals with it explicitly. However music seems to confront philosophy in such a way as to force the creation of a space in which it can be dealt with separately: the aesthetic. Deleuze’s philosophy of difference allows the possibility of pulling music back into the mainstream of human thought and action. Deleuze himself writes about music, and in the theme of the refrain he places a musical image in a critical position within his scheme of thought. He also invokes the electronic synthesiser as, “a musical machine of consistency, a sound machine (not a machine for reproducing sounds), which molecularizes and atomizes, ionizes sound matter, and harnesses a cosmic energy.” This machinic assembly not only acts as a further productive image, but also places a technological instrument firmly within the boundaries of thought.
Recent scholars such as Cross , Mithen and Morley have raised the question of why music arose and evolved as a human practice in the first place. Similarly, developmental psychologists and neurologists, such as Ammaniti and Gallese , Stern and Trevarthen have tried to propose for music a central role in the instantiation and evolution of the individual. These lines of thought suggest that music produces effects that are crucial to life and to thought.
This paper considers ways in which Deleuze’s philosophy of difference allows a rethinking of these questions concerning the evolution and purpose of music. It also considers the rhythmic emergence of the subject as style.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015
EventGILLES DELEUZE & FÉLIX GUATTARI: REFRAINS of FREEDOM - Panteion University, Athens, Greece
Duration: 24 Apr 201526 Apr 2015




  • Deleuze
  • Guattari
  • evolution
  • ecology
  • music


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