A Bird on a wire…

Deleuze&Guattari assert that birdsong is a useful means of marking territory and that this territorial character of the song, the sound, and of course the bird making the sound within its ecosystem, may have something to tell us about music. Bogue in an exploration of D&G’s notion of the birdsong (refrain) points out that the refrain has three aspects: “A point of stability, a circle of property, and an opening to the outside—these are the three aspects of the refrain” (Bogue, 17) [1].

Assuming that a non-territorialized space is essentially chaos and also assuming that the creation of meaning, that is territorializing chaos, is an important part of human life, then the act of deterritorialization creates the inside as it creates the outside. D&G call the space between territories milieus. The milieu is a medium through which deterritorialized space exists in the refrain: “Forces of chaos, terrestrial forces, cosmic forces: all of these confront each other and come together in the refrain” (D&G 2005, 312)[2]. By grounding this concept in musical terms one can easily see how a sound can represent an emotion, a style can represent geography, and a musical tradition a shared consciousness of history. Sound therefore deterritorializes the emotional self, the geographical self, and the temporal self, or, how I am, where I am, and why I am. If the creation of meaning is important then the process of territorialization may be a meaning making machine (machinic assemblage) and music may, like language, deterritorialize sound and order it for a purpose inside and outside of it. The territorialization of the refrain, like the birdsong, allows for the creation of inclusive and exclusive space. The refrain, that space that is territorialized, can be shared. This sharing, I think, at least the conception of sharing has limitations. But I am not certain this is all that D&G had in mind. Music is not a bird. But music may become a bird and in that becoming will ultimately become something else.

I play a flute, I play a bird call, I and my flute become music, we become-bird, and in that becoming we become freedom.

[1]Bogue, Ronald. 2003. Deleuze: On Music, Painting, and the Arts. New York, NY: Routledge.

[2] Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. 2005. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Previously posted on “Another Line of Flight”


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