The Third Milieu: Deleuze and the Universe of the Fixed Time-Space

French composer Pierre Boulez first introduced the concepts of smooth and striated space-time in his musical oeuvre. Later, Deleuze and Guattari further developed these musical theories, applying them to a wide range of non-musical purposes throughout their philosophical works, particularly in the homonymous chapter (plateau) included in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1987). However, the question that arises from these concepts is how these two systems communicate, transform, and alternate and at the same time remain different without becoming the same (Deleuze).

This paper seeks to explore a third milieu, adjacent to the smooth-striated that would allow the perception of the communication, transformation, and exchange processes between these two heterogeneous systems: the fixed space-time, which was also introduced by Boulez and later analysed in more depth by Deleuze, particularly in his essay “Boulez, Proust and Time: ‘Occupying without Counting’” (1986).

The methodology used for this research involves the creation of a series of drawings and diagrams using analogical and digital techniques with the aim of further exploring these ideas. Moreover, this paper argues that there is a strong relation between the functions of the fixed time-space and Deleuzian diagrams (drawing/graph/map). Furthermore, these diagrams would operate beneath the smooth and the striated and they could connect these two heterogeneous systems as the fixed space-time would do. Consequently, the fixed-diagram would function within a multiplicity, as a multi-linear system of conceptual diagonals that introduce a particular type of temporal homeostasis on the system, which would not alter the functions assigned to the individual assemblages of the smooth-striated.

Finally, the outcomes of the research have resulted in a series of maps, plans, landmarks, and itineraries that function as traces in the process of becoming involved in the interaction between the smooth-striated and the fixed space-time.

Variables, Diagrams, Process

The characteristic of a musical time-space, whether sound is the result of material sources or generated by machines, is to give consistency to previously unheard sound individuations—without identity (Deleuze 2003). To this end, mapping and spatial-temporal diagrams determine the variables’ changes and the modelling of dynamic events—following either a gestural or techno-generated process. Far from excluding each other, the complementary poles of the continuous and discontinuous are in constant exchange while becoming fields, varying their dimensions and distributions, renewing the composition of their relations in variable, gradual, and imperceptible transformations, speeds, and density changes (Criton 2015).

Transitivity, more than stable continuities, retains our interest here, setting contiguity of different sizes (smooth/striated), indiscernible areas, and dazzling couplings that allow linear, exclusive, or restrictive models to be abandoned and be moved from one category or “middle” to another (Criton 2011).

The presentation will outline a few transitive situations—sensory, gestural, spatial continuities. Through Chaoscaccia for cello (2013) and Circle Process for violin (2012), the presentation will focus on performance and gestural processes, pushing the dramaturgy of gesture to its event size, in order to grasp its driving idea and to identify its principle, both processually and extensively. What will enable affects to gain speed and direction, and introduce dynamic, intensive, and extensive associations? Through Plis (2008) and Ecoutes croisées (2014), the possibilities of ubiquitous (Criton 2012) and multimodal listening (Criton 2014) will be discussed.

Chaoscaccia (Criton and Walker 2013) follows a gesture process to explore a scordatura in 1/16th tone on the cello. The route is determined by a gesture map and consists of five steps: (1) rebounds, (2) parlando, (3) multiphonies, (4) mutando, and (5) disappearing. The basic principle is concerned with instability and sudden changes (shift process) between different states. Each state proceeds in an unstable mode and emerges without a forced beginning or ending. The duration of the cycle is open and it can be played in a concise or extensive manner. The cello is sonorised with two microphones (on foot), which can be directional or cardioid (type Neumann 184). 


Criton, Pascale. 2011. “Nothing is Established Forever.” In The Guattari Effect, edited by Éric Alliez and Andrew Goffey, 235–50. London: Continuum.

—. 2012. “O ouvido ubiquista: Escutar diferentemente.” In Cadernos de subjetividade, edited by Peter Pál Pelbart. São Paulo, Brazil: University Catholic Pontificale of São Paulo.

—. 2014. “Listening Otherwise: Playing with Sound Vibrations.” In ICMC Proceedings 2014. Accessed 12 October 2015.;idno=bbp2372.2014.275.

—. 2015. “L’hétérogénèse sonore.” In Gilles Deleuze: La pensée-musique, edited by Pascale Criton and Jean-Marc Chouvel. Paris: CDMC, Symétrie.

Criton, Pascale, and Deborah Walker. 2013. Chaoscaccia for cello tuned in 1/16th tone (duration circa 20 min.). 

Deleuze, Gilles. 2003. “‘Rendre audibles des forces non-audibles par elles-mêmes.’ Le temps musical, Ircam 1978.” In Deux régimes de fous. Textes et entretiens, 1975–1995, edited by David Lapoujade. Paris: Editions de Minuit.