Geomusic, Ecosophy and Molecular Oscillators

Ronald Bogue

conference: DARE 2017: aberrant nuptials
date: November 20, 2017
venue: Orpheus Institute, Concert Hall
format: keynote
keywords: de/re-territorialisation, heterogeneity, pop

abstract about the author(s)


The thrust of both Deleuze and Guattari’s thought on music is ecosophic, in that it treats music as a component within a process of chaosmic symbiogenesis whose aim is the deterritorialisation of the ritournelle and the creation of a new people and a new earth.  A Thousand Plateaus develops the concept of the ritournelle and its relation to milieus, territories, and cosmic lines of flight; What Is Philosophy? elaborates on those themes and ties them to the project of creating a new people and a new earth; and The Three Ecologies, Chaosmosis, and What is Ecosophy? integrate these elements within a general ethico- aesthetic paradigm. Deleuze’s 1978 IRCAM presentation on musical time (published in its manuscript form in Lettres et autres textes) precedes A Thousand Plateaus by two years, but in large part it partakes of the same trajectory of thought. Though Deleuze does not mention the “ritournelle,” he speaks of the musical mode of individuation of a “sonic landscape” inhabited by “rhythmic characters,” and of music’s coupling of an “elaborated sonic material” and “imperceptible forces that the material renders audible, perceptible.” In a similar ecosophic vein, he refers to “molecular oscillators” in biological systems and relates them to the non-pulsed time of contemporary music, which is “a time made of heterogeneous durations whose relations rest on a molecular population, and no longer on a unifying metrical form” (Deleuze, “Le Temps Musicale,” in Lettres et autres textes). The correlation of musical time and molecular oscillators does not appear again in Deleuze (though biological molecular oscillators are referenced briefly in A Thousand Plateau’s ritournelle plateau); nonetheless, the correlation merits detailed consideration. The molecular oscillators Deleuze refers to are chemical clocks that regulate organisms’ circadian rhythms internally and entrain them externally with variations in daily light–dark cycles. Circadian clocks arose 2.5 billion years ago during the Great Oxidation Event (GOE) and persist across all three phylogenetic domains of Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukaryota. In humans, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) serves as the master clock, but clocks have been discovered in red blood cells and other tissues and various organs (colon, kidney) that interact with the  SCN.  Besides  circadian  clocks,  oscillators  have  been  identified at timescales of less than a day (ultradian sand circartidal) and greater (circalunar, circannual, and multi-year cycles). Although Deleuze stresses the temporal heterogeneity of molecular oscillators, their fundamental characteristic is that of a periodicity entrained to georhythms.

Broadly speaking, music occurs at the interface of geo- and biorhythms, articulated through the tekhnē of parajective instruments (as opposed to projective weapons and introjective tools). Human tekhnē threatens multiple aerobic life forms emergent from the GOE through global warming, and the ecosophic response must include a transformation of the ecology of mentalities. The music of John Luther Adams (not to be confused with the John Adams of Nixon in China) may be seen as such a response, especially in his interactive site “The Place,” the site-specific performances of Inuksuit and Ten Thousand Birds, and the orchestral compositions Dark Wave and Become Ocean.

about the author(s)

Ronald Bogue

Both a Distinguished Research Professor and a Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor, Dr. Ronald Bogue retired in 2014, continuing to conduct research as well as serve on graduate committees. His areas of research include literary theory and the comparative study of the arts. His books include Deleuze and Guattari (Routledge, 1989), Deleuze on Literature (Routledge, 2003), Deleuze on Cinema (Routledge, 2003), Deleuze on Music, Painting, and the Arts (Routledge, 2003), and Deleuze’s Wake (SUNY Press, 2004).

info & contact


University of Georgia, Athens, US


rbogue [AT]