Achim Szepanski

In this essay we try to explore non-representationalism in music, which has to be connected to the question of non-representational aesthetics. The philosophers of immanence – Deleuze/Guattari and Laruelle – have something in common: Since the mid- 1980s they reject the discourses and techniques of post-structuralist interpretation of music and art in favor of constructing an aesthetics rooted in immanence and non-representationalism. Deleuze/Guattari work on the problem how the relationship between immanence and multiplicity could be thought. They describe a world of pure multiplicity in which all multiplicities are equally immanent und include immanent transformations within a given set of virtualities. Multiplicities actualize themselves as occasions/events or as blips of singularity in heterogeneous assemblages. In this way the transcendental must get immanent, which means, that the universe is not digital at its core, but analog. Deleuze/Guattari and Laruelle agree, that representational aesthetics has come to an end, but they do not agree on what form immanence should take in aesthetics. While Deleuze/Guattari prefer the productive capacity of matter, Laruelle insists on the immanent and generic logic of the Real/One.
For Deleuze/Guattari is one of the guiding questions in „music“, if the unformed can be heard as sound within the framework of the audible or music. But the unformed is not noise. So another question is, if there exists a passage between sound and noise, made possible by musical events (not music). When deterritorialisation brings a long a de-structuration of the articulated sound, which is a kind of deterritorialised and reterritorialised noise, this implies a state of the unformed that is still audible, but definitely not as organised music; such kind of „music“ or the audible is no more a representation or mimesis, but a becoming. For Deleuze/Guattari such (unformed) sound-becomings takes place within a three dimensional floating space (rhizom) rather than in a two-dimensional, vectorial one.
In his current period Laruelle is in search for a quantum thought, that is free from its mathematical expression, that he finds reductive. One of quantum thoughts principle is „superposition“ or the standing wave of rhythmic superposition, a kind of concept, that resonates somehow with the work by Lefebvre, Deleuze, Stengers, and Whitehead, but also with recent sound studies. The Laruellian concept of “superposition” neglects two treatments of sonic thought, so to invent sonic thinking as non-representation (that is, thinking sonically rather than about sound). Laruelle illustrates an incommensurability of sound’s closure, hermetically seperated from other material, theories; and he illustrates an incommensurability of the relation and exchange of sound, which is porous enough to permit heterogeneous assemblages without imposing them. While closure includes representation as thinking about sound, permanent exchange between sound and thought tends to confusion as it converts or even fuses thinking and sound. This con-fusion reflects the belief of experimental electronic music in its first period (from Russolo through Schaeffer and classic musique concrète) that everything in the world is musical, an unrecognized belief associated with what Jarrod Fowler calls the Principle of Musical Sufficiency.(1) Non-musicology by contrast breaks with the idea that everything is musical and develops a science of music as well as a „music“ related to science (e.g., Xenakis’ use of stochastic processes). For Fowler, “the program of Non-musicology is to use musicology to construct alien theories without those theories being yielded by the Principle of Musical Sufficiency: ‘All is not musical, this is our news.” (2) Sonic thought or Non-musicology composes theory as its own object and therefore delivers a kind of echo to the work of the muscians, to their way of the becoming-of-music. Laruelle starts to write a new music-fiction.
What is noise? The conception of noise under the aspect of irreversibility is associated to a logic of radical contingency. On one side noise is observer relative, so it may be measured by systems according to their degree of randomness, their algorithmic functions, on the other side noise is observer independent, as radical contingency or hyperchaos noise exceeds human capacity of perception for capturing it as a phenomenal information. The definition of noise as failure or disturbance presupposes the position of an objectivized ideal in and of science, to exclude noise and the composition of noise, thus thinking the Real always as a correlate of thought. Here we are already in the middle of the problematic of Laruelles Non-musicology, which situates music as a poduct of science, their methods of numerical measure (as material), and (which is more important) as the construction of some kind of audible non-order, which might be not measurable. Non-musicology starts on this plane as a different treatment of music and experimental science, breaking with the idea, that everything is musical and therefore developing a science of „music“, which does not become science itself. The infiltration of Non-musicology into musicology means the mutation of music using scientific methods to investigate a pluralism and hybridisation in a generic science, which does not comment musical objects in a reflective way, but concentrates them around a problem, of that Laruelle has had in his early phase no idea, but that musicians had already generated.
Non-musicology breaks not only with musical self-sufficiency or structured science of music, but also articulates another break that does not so much involve a new subversive immersion of the audience into the conditions of hearing as it leads to the ecological anticause, what Fowler calls a different hearing-in-Rhythm, which is identical with Rhythm insofar as Rhythm is different from metrics and recurrence.
What is Rhythm? First, Rhythm is a temporally extended pattern that can be described by information-processing systems through several parameters summarized by Inigo Wilkins: spatial, temporal, amplitude, frequency and superposition. (3) While processing systems involve an observer-dependent reality of Rhythm, it is possible to discover the existence of Rhythms that are beyond human sensory perceptual capacities through technology, math, and science. Second, it has to be asked whether or not there is a simple opposition between noise and Rhythm. The answer is no, because we can define Rhythm as the relation of identifiable and unidentifiable processes that allow the incommensurable chaos to pass into an order of difference, a degree or quantity of non-linear and non-rhythmic noise. Rhythm may exist at many degrees of dynamics and magnitude. It may emerge from noise, whereby the simulation of noise through stochastic processes demonstrates that the process of the enfolding of Rhythm and signals offers a large quantity of heterogeneous movements occurring at different time scales and frequencies. But still noise has a larger dynamics and magnitude than Rhythm. Noise is foreclosed to rhythm, to sound and music, to any ontological or epistemological theory.
If Rhythm is distinct from metrics, we enter the field of non-frequency politics, the politics of productive difference, which includes the fact, that Rhythm is distinct from science, and therefore non-musicians us science and music as pure material. Here, they also start to reduce discourses of philosophy to pure material to achieve – always in interaction with hearing-in-rhythm – pulse “rhythmights.” Parallel to the objects of non-musicians an unified and non-representational theory or a music-fiction has to simulate philosophy and to catch for the essence of music-being and the fractal-being of musical objects, and yet treat them through hypothesis, deduction and experimental tests. The non-musicological term invented by Fowler, “rhythmight”, opens up to experimental methods of rhythm production: we can now speak of Rhythm in terms of non-periodic pulsed or clicked music. We find here transversal disjunctions, heterogeneous temporalities and spatial components, that overlap and coexist in a track; in the invincible evidence of its short signal and contextless reference, the click opens various potentials to move on without giving any noticeable association. Through the concatenation of signs something like indetermination starts to be indicated, whereby failure can become part of music. Failure is not an inscribed meaning in clicks and cuts, but rather a referential that indicates possibilities of previous and emerging sign concatenations. In the nameless “in between,” meaning is constructed with the help of signs that are not what they pretend to be.Through reference to other signs, a momentum of meaning is produced, because a sign like the click realizes différance, suspended presence, while also referring to signs to come. Similarly, the pulse can be understood as an inherent stress that falls on certain metrics or beats. While listening to the clock, one might hear “tick-tock” instead of “tick-tick,” because every other beat is more stressed than the beat before. This repeating stress is the pulse; and in music different sorts of pulses can be overlapped and constructed by grouping beats together in different milieus or patterns. The technique of inhuman music forces a temporal division into such nuanced patterns, which only machines can perform with perfect precision. With Deleuze or Boulez we can speak of rhythm in terms of non-periodic pulsed or clicked music. There is a transversal disjunction, which is articulated in the track intern and in relation to other tracks, and this achievs the transition of „Clicks and Cuts“. Transversality is originally a topological concept meaning an extending over, lying across, intersecting without a resulting coincidence, while transversal music caulks the „cut“ between actual and virtual on the rise of the performance itself, by mutating from a device designed to connect the past with the present into a newly future-orientated one. If we listen to a track, we always hear other things, which Deleuze describes as forces, duration, sensation and lightness, depending how tempi, rhythm and sound are variied. For heterogenous temporalities and spatial components, which overlap and coexist in a track, the click opens in its invincible evidence various potencials to move on, as the signal is short and without contextual reference, so no remindable association can be given. Only through the catenation of signs something like indetermination starts to get indicatory, whereby failure can get part of music, but, as we said, failure is not a inscribed meaning in clicks and cuts, rather a referential, which indicates possibilities of previous and coming sign catenations. In the nameless in between meaning is constructed with the help of signs, which are not, what they pretend to be.
This is quite close to Heinrich Kleists proposal, that for producing powerful rhythmights the puppet player has to become itself an automat, insofar as a machinist has to relocate himself into the emphasis of the machine, while empasis is here armed with a new attraction, which correlates to the following: when non-frequency-politicians are listening to the clock, they hear “tic – toc – fuck the clock” instead of “tik – tik” because they know, that the beat or metrum has to be stressed: the relation between the different speed of waves and the maxima of intensity or timeless degree of different waves constitute a dispersion, which cannot be measured. Exterior to the clockban non-frequency-politics is the supertrace, is the tracing of the immanent rhythmicity of Rhythm in the hearing-in-Rhythm, as Jarrod Fowler says, it is „flow an sich“ or the quantum, because the generators of non-frequency-politics are always oversweeping the beat of the significant “ding ding ding ding.”
Here we find a hotspot to non-music in a Laruelian sense. Laruelle claims a dispersive a priori of theory, which is not primarly related to music, but related to the foreclosed and indifferent Real in-the-last-instance, posing the question: how can a generic and real but nevertheless transcendental and a priori term of difference be constructed, an a priori of difference that is a matter of an immediate given condition? (4) If we relate the apriori or the axiom to music, we will find an answer: The relation between the different speed of waves and the maxima of intensity (or the timeless degree of different waves) involves a dispersion. This is a oraxiom of Rhythmight, which means that the philosophical distinction between theoretical and practical aspects of thought has lost its power. For example, the theoretical practice of music, which invent new oraxioms, uses as ist material sample politics, which is oscillating between an actual pool of samples and the capacity to create new samples.
Samples are nowadays part of the mediapool, regardless of whether they are saved on analog or digital media. Sampling includes the program-controlled, machinic transformation of the musical material with special features, transposing, time-stretching or cut up, etc. Sampling is a technology for access and transformation of media material, by grasping the signals of the media of transmission. Sampling subverts the purposeful transfer from source to destination. Instead of an exact process of mapping the input onto the output, sampling activates a production process, using the signal subtracted from its functional and contextual environment. As condition of that production, it is a sampling-in-the-last-instance. Going from sampling to so-called pulse rhythmights, produced with techniques through immanent and generic methods of percussive flights and differential structures of sound, attends not to being-in-the-world, but being in music. A music that remains radically immanent, Rhythmight is constructed from the heterogeneity of Rhythm as foreclosed and incommensurately sampled-in-the-last-instance and binds at the same moment the methods of Rhythmics to ecological hearing-in-rhythm. The relation between Rhythm and hearing remains still unilateral: it only goes one way. The unilaterality of Rhythm doesn’t imply that music can be reduced to Rhythm, but that, aside from its territorial motives and melodic landscapes, music is in-the-last-instance Rhythm and heard from Rhythm. While Non-musicology imposes a unilateral relationship between Rhythm and hearing, hearing-in-Rhythm cannot affect Rhythm, while Rhythm is foreclosed to hearing-in-Rhythm.The scientific exology (the scientific closure of paradigms, knowledge etc.) of hearing, which arises from the indifference of Rhythm, must hallucinate music as metrics, order, and composition by ignoring the radical ecology of Rhythm, which is related to non-music’s objectivity without representation. (5) At the same time, rhythmight corresponds to a relative ecology (perception of music) that is today permanently infiltrated by the convertibility of money, the processes in which the virtuality of value is actualized as price. At this juncture Non-musicology has to indicate a radical mutation of the radical ecology of Rhythm according to the foreclosed Real.
(Non-musicology countermands the inscription of the differenziant value, which is the prevalence of money in all his registers – semiotic value and the beat of the significant, which counts the metrum as price instead of the tic-toc of the pulsating difference as non-price. Punctuated production time of the code is permanently inscribed in the body of music. At this point, one may mention that there must be a clandestine relation between non-frequency-politics and High-Frequency-Trading. The latter can be understood as a complex technical system in capitalist finance, that generates the production of noise and at the same time reduces the information gradients, operating at a high rate of data streams and coding noise. With High-Frequency-Trading financial systems try to regulate the randomness of assets in minimal scales of time, to anticipate the fluctuations of price politics. Complexity is here the random effect of acceleration towards volatility, which can lead to an intentional production of noise, for irritating traders and the financial machines. But in relation to music we prefer here not to speak first of absolut contingency, like one might do with Quentin Meillassoux, instead we follow what distincts electronic music from High-Frequency-Trading, because the former in its decomposition in the form of non-music exceeds measurability; acceleration, which is necessary – it can be also slowness – for decoding scripture and codes, should not lead to the hyperreal of Baudrillard, which introduces the universal trauma of capitals realism, instead acceleration in its different modes should lead to a kind of non-dialectical negativism.)
Through tracing the rhythmicity of Rhythm in hearing-in-Rhythm, and thus through Sampling-in-the-last-instance, Non-musicology develops a new radical ecology of rhythm. It starts to sample material from science and philosophy, from musicial material itself, to construct the immanent generic matrix, which is no longer overdetermined by capitals relations of production and circulation, rather the transcendental construction of a kind of objectivity without representation.
If Non-music or non-standard music is, as Inigo Wilkins says, situated in the “non-standard phase space” between periodic sine tones and non-periodic or non-individual complex transformation and modulation, it might fall within the same theoretical neighbourhood as Dante’s bourdon or Messiaen’s compositional techniques. (6) The latter combines listening to the rhythmic singing of each individual bird and the overall Rhythm as an orchestra. On one side, there is no total rhythmic disorder, analogous to the incommensurability of closure, as unrelated tones do not couple with one another; on the other side, the birds are not synchronized to the ticking clock, as though a regular pulse would allow them all to share a common beat. Now, it looks as though non-frequency-politics would be nothing other than a re-invention of Dante’s bourdon; but the ritornello of the birds as accompanied by the noise of the wood is not only a musical sensation. It forces Rhythm via an interaction with hearing-in-Rhythm, in order to find a radical objective music, which includes the refusal of the world, even the refusal to create alternative worlds, yet demands the Real as foreclosed to the world. Rhythmight produces tension and solidification at the same time in hearing-in-Rhythm, while non-musicians become aware of how to subtract Rhythm from the metrum, endlessly mixing and remixing the conditions and relations of rhythmights and at the same time separating fragments from these mixtures in order to use these autonomous theoretical fragments indifferent to the musical structure.
Laruelle would reject Deleuze & Guattari’s treatment of music as the capture of affects and percepts (including relationship between material and forces) and would instead postulate to music an autonomous theoretical order, a non-scientific thought according to the radical immanence of the Real – the Real, here, understood as foreclosed and indifferent, without mirroring aesthetics or knowledge or being mirrored by science; the Real, which has to be thought as neither a meaning nor a truth but rather as immanently given-without givenness. The exteriority of the Real is being-nothing, which confronts being with nothingness. This demands the Real as foreclosed to the world. By reducing all transcendental thought to pure material, thought can be developed according to the syntax of the Real. Instead of a truth, which has its telos in the white silence of a full speaking, in which even the Real should be countable, Non-musicology presents an incestuous con-junction of the quantum-principles of superposition (immanence of one-in-one) and non-commutativity. Where Deleuze & Guattari distinguish between scientific variables, artistic varieties, and philosophical variations, Laruelle’s Non-philosophy reduces all concepts of philosophy and philosophy itself to pure variables. (7) Non-musicology reduces philosophy, science, and musical objects to pure material, by starting to sample the material from within non-musical discourses such as science and philosophy. By cutting off the Principle of Musical Sufficiency, the immersive properties of sound in relation to perception and affect might be also cut off. Non-music instead produces an irreflective processing of variables by variables, a fractal proliferation of models without transcendence.
Here we are confronted with radical differences in the aesthetic conceptions of Deleuze/Guattari and Laruelle. The movement and the relation of sound molecules itself, their catenation happens for Deleuze/Guattari in the context of rhythmical territorialisation and de-territorialisation, which they describe as the ritornell, a kind of crystallisation of time-space, the temporalisation of space and the spatialization of time. Within the ritornell body, earth, rhythm and sound events are shortened with the intensity of the body without organs. Non-musicology in this context could be subsequent to Laruelle understood as the production and tracking of Rhythmicity of rhythm in hearing-in-ryhthm, as an event of compression, which writes itself as an effect of the rhythm construction of the ritornell. As such „music“ or the audible has a fractal dimension, which cannot be reduced to metrics, number and beat time, and maybe to objects for philosophers. And non-frequency politics would force the dance through the territorialised ritornell, which constituens is rhythm and its apparatus, the drum. Rhythmight is producing tension and solidification at the same time in hearing-in-rhythm, while getting aware, how to subtract the metrum. TIC-TOC- fuck the clock! means the principle, while endlessly mixing and remixing the conditions and relations of rhythmights and at the same time seperating rudiments from these mixtures, in order to use autonomous (theoretical) fragments, a theoretical order of contingency (to music), which implies to make use of artifical techniques in a different way as musicians do and at the same write new music-fictions, which are still related to music and the audible – a non-scientific thought according to the radical immanence of the Real in-the-last-instance, the Real here understood as foreclosed and being-nothing, without mirroring something or being mirrored. Laruelle’s generalized fractality of thought is a radically unfolded plane of immanence without reflection of the world, while destroying the empirico-transcendental doublet by its distanceless adequation.
This is to abandon also reversibility between philosophy and science, and between science and music; non-musicology leads to practice „music“ in a non-scientific stance to mutate music using scientific means related to the practice of science, as Jarrod Fowler says. The result of Non-philosophy and Non-musicology includes a generic matrix, which is transcendental at the same time, a generic matrix, whose idempotency functions are related to the Real as determination-in-the-last-instance. Idempotency is a term of informatics, that refers to function thats remains unchanged by doubling and iterating itself or by the addition of new functions, so the generic matrix is related to non-commutative Identity which persists across variations and does not need any transendence. Deleuze/Guattari renounce representation, but still in the name of perception and affects, which are always correlated to experience. And this concept correlates somehow to a certain phase of Laruelle, where the non-musical construction of the rhythmight of music and science is combined with hearing, hearing-in-rhythm, with musicological systems of listening. Laruelle would assert a further step, where non-musicology reduces philosophy, science and musical objects to pure material, by starting to sample the material from within music, non-musical discourses such as science and philosophy. By cutting off the principle of musical sufficiency, the immersive properties of sound in relation to perception and affect are also cut off. Instead non-music-fiction is producing an irreflective and automatic processing of variables by variables, which is a fractal proliferation of models without transcendence. Audio, as the material of media pools, is not further related anymore „to a transindividually constituted prosthetic extension with reversible intentionality“, as Inigo Wilkins says.
In his latest works, Laruelle speaks of the non-standard method as a kind of immanent fiction that includes invention, construction, performance, etc. as a non-representative and non-expressive method that uses only abstract and pure thought for non-aesthetics and that doesn’t need to appeal to the parallelism of philosophy and art. (8) This demands neither thinking of sound as sonic philosophy nor thinking about sound, but an abstract theory of sound, a radical abstract theory that is absolutely non-worldly and non-perceptual, as Laruelle says. Music is not oriented to a world, nor is it perceptual; rather it focuses on the immanent character of music as such, being in music. Music is radical objectivation without representation or intentionality. Following Laruelle, this semblance of music must be no longer an imitation, a tracing, an emanation or a representation of world or of language, of affect or whatever. Rather there exists a non-world of music for both the musician and the philosopher of music. This non-world still exists in the present and is real, while non-music is always rooted in matter. At this point Non-musicology stops tracing the Rhythmicity of Rhythm in hearing-in-Rhythm through sampling-in-the-last-instance. As a kind of objectivity without representation, Non-musicology begins instead to sample material from science and philosophy, from musical material itself, to construct the immanent generic matrix of non-music, which is no longer overdetermined by the capitalist relation of production and circulation.