1. The final element of these memorials to which we must turn seems at first to be more intimate but is actually just as distancing as static: the voice. Up to this point we have focused on elements of Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy of music that have no clear correlatives in popular music criticism, but with the voice we move onto critical terrain that is currently dominated by methods and categories drawn from psychoanalysis, an interpretive strategy on which Deleuze and Guattari declared war in Anti-Oedipus. Our purpose here is not to rehearse that all-out assault, nor to intervene concretely in the ongoing musicological debates over the voice, but merely to identify the general limits of a psychoanalytic representational approach to pop music as a way of highlighting the originality of Deleuze and Guattari’s productivist perspective.

  2. In psychoanalysis and the criticism derived from it, the voice functions like the gaze to address and thus subjectify individuals, to interpellate them as the subjects of a symbolic order whose structure their psyches reflect imperfectly.25 Thus the recorded voice forms an "acoustic mirror" in which the subject (mis)recognizes him/herself, and the activity of listening to that voice becomes an unavoidably narcissistic enterprise.26 Deleuze and Guattari accept the validity of this model as far as it goes, but they propose a more broadly based alternative that also opens up new territories and structures for music.27 The narcissistic model of listening, they claim, is a fundamentally retrospective and representational one that cannot account for the production of novelty or innovation in music. Everything new gets cut down to fit the Procrustean bed of universal Oedipal triangulation ("papa-mama-me") and the endless deferral of desire conceived as lack; every action is separated from its practical efficacy to become a pure dramatic signifier of the interminable desire for desire. The psychoanalytic unconscious is a Victorian theater of familial narcissism, a model of dialectical negativity that is incapable of escaping its own constitutive impasses, so Deleuze and Guattari propose instead a productivist unconscious that exceeds the representational model on all sides.28 This affirmative model enables the prospective temporality of subjective improvisation as well as the negative abyss of psychoanalysis’ repetition compulsion.

  3. The voice provides a good example of the interpretive consequences that this broader model entails. In much pop music, the voice is the fixed point of thematic reterritorialization around which the sounds temporarily deterritorialize (through distortion, feedback, overdubbing, etc.). "[A]s long as the voice is song, its main role is to 'hold' sound, it functions as a constant circumscribed on a note and accompanied by the instrument" (A Thousand Plateaus 96). Since the listener’s attention to the voice as a carrier of discursive content or meaning usually effaces its impact as sound or intensity, the voice most often functions to delimit and preserve the pre-established territories of the piece, both harmonically and conceptually. The voice tells us what the song is about, and it does this while doubling or harmonizing with its accompanying instrumental melody, and reproducing the more or less regular meter. The voice, especially the "good" or "trained" voice in pop music, addresses the listener, demands (mis)recognition and interpellates her/him as a docile subject precisely because of the power it gains by this process of harmonic/thematic reduplication or reterritorialization. This can be true even (and especially) when the voice sings or speaks of escape, of lines of flight out of its territorial constraints; think for example of the vicious irony of "I'm Free" from the Who's Tommy ("I'm free/I’m free/And I'm waiting for you to follow me … "), which reterritorializes the newly-claimed freedom of the "I" in its control of the second person, the "you"). So far, Deleuze and Guattari would agree with Adorno, Althusser, and the psychoanalytic tradition.

  4. Such is not the case, however, with respect to Scanner's track "Without End" (disc 2, track 7 of IM). Here a hoarse voice whispers of events or hecceities, saying, "it is dawn eternally, time of prophecy," while the process of sound assembly creates an unexpected auditory space-time that does not double or reflect the sonic contour of that voice. The slow, diffuse metric pulse of human breathing provides a foundation for the piece, a foundation upon which are laid layers of indistinct vocal sounds, ungraspable fragments of speech and angular melodic cells that constitute an unstable soundscape. The listener does not (mis)recognize her/himself in the vocal/harmonic pattern here, but rather must wait for some pattern to emerge, only to see it subside again into the constantly mutating mix. A similar procedure of discontinuous assemblage, though often without the intelligible lead vocal that provides thematic continuity and territorialization here, underlies all of Scanner's work, including his piece on FR, "Control: Phantom Signals with Active Bandwidth" (track 4). Robin Rimbaud took the name "Scanner" from his primary enabling musical machine, the broadband scanner that intercepts the transmissions of radios, cellular telephones, and other broadcast machinery. His method itself is formally subversive and deterritorializing, in that he is transforming a surveillance technology—originally devised to allow police to monitor broadcast communications and intervene in that medium—into a generator of aesthetic affects and percepts. But it is also a new territorialization, as he has said:
    A good way of putting it with the scanner stuff is mapping the city … it's like mapping the movements of people during different periods of the day. It's fairly predictable [during the day]…. Then in the evening, that's where the riot happens. That's when it gets really exciting because all hell gets let loose. The phone rates go down and people have the most surreal conversations. I've always been interested in the spaces in these conversations … It amazed me with these mobile phones, which are much more expensive than standard phones—you get these enormous gaps happening. They're the points that really interest me. What's happening in there. (cited in Toop, 35)
    In deterritorializing the technology, he generates a new refrain and hence new spatio-temporal territory: a perceptual map of the city and the day. From his recordings of human voices snatched from these broadcast bands, Scanner often selects the least intelligible statements, those that are so unconventional and decontextualized that they carry no direct meaning even when they can be understood clearly; he also selects voices that have been so distorted in transmission that they cannot be understood at all. These voices, and even the static-filled gaps in conversations, are used as concrete sound, as in musique concrète. In other words, he uses the scanner as a source of raw sonorous material and not generally as a source of subjectively referential information, as the police do; the demand for stable reference and command that informs police use of surveillance technology is much closer to the territoriality of the traditional pop song form (and to psychoanalytic criticism of it) than to Scanner's audio maps.

  5. Scanner deterritorializes the voice by centering it in the mix, but depriving it of its direct signifying capacity and its continuous harmonic intensification. In his piece "Control," we hear voices speaking, but often we cannot understand what they are saying. The voices become elements of the sound, values of timbre, without the privilege (and limitation) of discursive meaning. "Only when the voice is tied to timbre does it reveal a tessitura that renders it heterogeneous to itself and gives it a power of continuous variation: it is then no longer accompanied, but truly 'machined'" (A Thousand Plateaus 96). The voice always has timbre, of course, but not all timbre is equally perceptible; indeed, the mark of the "trained" or "pure" singing voice is precisely its minimal noticeable timbre in comparison with the gruff, cracked or shrill vocal quality of blues or rock singers. By "machined" Deleuze and Guattari mean that the timbrally distinctive voice ceases to be tied to a stable harmonic structure or its attendant subjective form as limiting territories, and is instead opened up to a process of sonorous production that exceeds the expression of an individual psyche. The voice becomes an inhuman sound, a noise, and is no longer personal, subjective, or most importantly, subjectifying (interpellating). Like Adorno, psychoanalytic critics treat this inhuman vocality as a source of anxiety that must inevitably be repressed, only to return as an uncanny recorded double of the fractured self (Engh, 1994, 130-31). Deleuze and Guattari, on the other hand, find in this inhumanity, so unexpectedly close at hand, an affirmative and convenient step out of the straightjacket of normative subjectivity.

  6. The uncanny point of indiscernibility between human voice and inhuman sound can be reached in a number of ways. For example, it is what post-serial composers like Milton Babbitt and Luciano Berio have sought in their vocal and electronic works through the transformation of traditionally trained voices. Babbitt's Philomel for soprano, recorded soprano and synthesized sound (1963) dramatizes the Greek myth of Philomel's metamorphosis into a nightingale by continuously manipulating the soprano's voice, sending it off down a line of flight toward one, then the other of the endpoints of its constant becoming: singing woman or synthesized bird. The sonic affirmation of flight from a constraining subjectivity counterbalances the mythic tragedy of Philomel’s punishment. Berio's Thema: Omaggio a Joyce (1958) and Visage (1961),29 both electronic manipulations of soprano Cathy Berberian's voice on tape, occupy the same point of transition between voice as discursive meaning and voice as inhuman sound. Of Thema, which actualizes the virtual fuga per canonem in the "Sirens" chapter of James Joyce's Ulysses, Berio has written,
    I was interested in developing new criteria of continuity between spoken language and music and in establishing continual metamorphoses of one into the other… [In Thema] it is no longer possible to make distinctions between word and sound, and between sound and noise; or between poetry and prose, and between poetry and music. We are thus forced to recognize the relative nature of these distinctions, and the expressive characters of their changing functions. (Berio 1998, 1)
    Scanner's work uses different techniques and different vocal timbres, but it forces a similar recognition upon us as well, one that complements the political subversiveness of his chosen medium: there is a becoming-sound of the voice that can draw the subject into a parallel becoming-other of the self, one that is marked not by primal castration anxiety but by prospective affirmation.

  7. Even so, the indiscernibility of voice and sound in Scanner’s pieces often highlights, paradoxically, the subjectively expressive power of the voice even in the absence of intelligible meaning. The deterritorializing line of flight out of normative subjective structure may reterritorialize within something similar to the psychoanalytic paradigm. Even when we cannot understand the words or locate a melody in "Control" or "Without End," we can sometimes still extract some signifying value by grasping the mood or tone of the sounds.

  8. This reterritorializing aspect has also been explored by post-serial composers, most significantly by György Ligeti in his pieces Aventures (1962) and Nouvelles Aventures (1962-65), for three singers and seven instrumentalists. In these pieces, Ligeti uses an invented language to demonstrate that "All the ritualized human emotions that are expressed colloquially, such as understanding and dissension, [etc … ] can be expressed exactly in the a-semantic emotional artificial language." In singing this artificial language, the performers produce "the opposite of what we were used to at the performance of an opera … : the stage and protagonists are evoked by the music—the music is not performed to accompany an opera, but an opera is performed within the music" (Ligeti 1985, 8-9). Here the accompaniment itself serves to interpellate the listening subject, even without direct address from the voice.

  9. The reductio ad absurdam of this situation is surely the Residents' album The Third Reich and Roll, which consists of two LP-side-long "semi-phonetic interpretations of Top Forty hits from the Sixties" (Residents 1979). On this album the Residents, perhaps the most important conceptual art band in pop, perform hit singles like the Rascals' "Good Lovin'," Lesley Gore's "It's My Party" and the Mysterians' "96 Tears" as if they had only been heard over a poor quality AM radio; the melodies and arrangements are largely intact, but the words are reduced to "semi-phonetic" approximations at best, in acknowledgement of the historical and phenomenological experience of many actual listeners who would have encountered much of the most influential pop music of the twentieth century via low-fidelity AM radio.30 The Residents' method also ironically acknowledges the fundamental irrelevance of stable discursive meaning to the world of pop, where pure sound intensity and affective projection should rule.

  10. The imperative to deterritorialize the voice, to use it timbrally rather than harmonically or referentially, must include even the voice of the philosopher who articulates that imperative. There is a difference, however imperceptible it may be, between the randomly sampled voices used by Scanner, or the rigorously disciplined voices required for the performance of Babbitt's, Berio's, and Ligeti's pieces, and the singular voice of Deleuze himself. It is the difference between the deterritorialized voice and the deterritorializing voice, between hearing a voice become an inhuman sound and actually becoming an inhuman sound via that voice. Deleuze once said,

    Some of us can be moved by certain voices in the cinema. Bogart's voice. What interests us is not Bogart as subject, but how does Bogart's voice function? What is the function of the voice in speaking him? … It can't be said that this is an individualizing voice, even though it is that also … I deterritorialize myself on Bogart … It's a kind of metallic voice…a horizontal voice, it's a boring voice—it's a kind of thread which sends out a sort of very very very special sonorous particles. It's a metallic thread that unwinds, with a minimum of intonation; it's not at all the subjective voice. (Vincennes Seminar, 215)
    Deleuze's own voice was also such a non-subjective "metallic voice" through which others deterritorialized themselves. At his death, his friends and colleagues uniformly evoked his familiar gruff voice, which Richard Pinhas described as "difficult but beautiful" (Heldon 1973), and two of the artists on the memorial discs make use of that deterritorializing voice in their compositions. Hazan + Shea, in "Rhizome: No Beginning No End" (track 5 on FR), sample Deleuze's voice from the Abécédaire de Gilles Deleuze television broadcasts. In the first section, "End," they use Deleuze's voice as pure timbre, setting its isolated phonemes against a synthesized ensemble of keyboards, strings and percussion; in the second section, "Beginning," the voice re-emerges as a signifying instrument as the sentences broken down into timbral elements in section one are cited in their entirety. Hence the inversion of sequence: (no) end before (no) beginning. Wehowsky/Wollscheid's "Happy Deterritorializations" (disc 1, track 2 of IM) "reformulates … an auratic sound, once recorded by a French rock band accompanied by a reciting Gilles Deleuze [sampled from "Le voyageur" by Heldon on Heldon 1973]. Pieces of this archetypal sound are projected onto different contemporary sound matrixes and merge with their sonic corpora" (Wollscheid in IM, 9). Wehowsky/Wollscheid enfold and unfold Deleuze's voice by sampling, resequencing and overdubbing his performance with Heldon to create a multiplied, polyphonic, deterritorializing/reterritorializing Deleuzean voice distanced from and in conversation with itself.

  11. Richard Pinhas' latest recordings, released by Sub Rosa and Cuneiform, constitute a third memorial disc, though they are not billed as such, and they too are organized around Deleuze's words and voice. For this project Pinhas recruited the musicians (and science-fiction writers) Norman Spinrad and Maurice Dantec to form a unit called Schizotrope, subtitled "The Richard Pinhas & Maurice Dantec Schizospheric Experience—French Readings of Gilles Deleuze's Philosophy with Metatronic Music and Vocal Processors" (Schizotrope 1999 & 2000). Much of these discs reprise Pinhas' earlier collaborations with Deleuze: either Deleuze's words, read by Dantec, are set to music, or Deleuze's voice itself is set. They differ in the form the musical setting takes. On the initial Heldon recording of "Le voyageur," the music can be described as progressive rock, as bands like Heldon and King Crimson were inventing it in the early Seventies, music which we have described as "bolero-like" in structure and sound. Schizotrope's music, however, is quite different from that. Instead of repeating metric and harmonic forms in regularly striated space-time, the new music is smooth and ambient. Drawing on experiments from his previous solo album De l'Un et du Multiple (1996), Pinhas has created a contemporary style that owes equal amounts to the Nineties explosion of sampled, computer-generated techno music, and to the pioneering Seventies/Eighties "Frippertronics" work of King Crimson founder Robert Fripp.31 Eric Tamm defines Frippertronics as follows: it is
    the technological setup whereby two reel-to-reel tape recorders were connected together and to…electric guitar; [and it is also] the musical style, that is, the potential for creatively shaping ever-fluctuating masses of sound in real time, ordinarily upon a tonal, pandiatonic, modal or multi-modal basis; and the various uses of Frippertronics—as music performed solo, or as one timbral/structural element within a more conventional song, or as a "thematic sound" used to unify a large musical collage … (Tamm 1990, 115)
    By the Nineties, the technological setup had changed to include DAT recorders and digital signal control, but otherwise the description remains accurate (though, significantly, Fripp changed the name of the activity to the more territorial "soundscapes"). The interconnected recorders produce cyclic loops of varying durations that grant a periodicity to even the most irregular meters. At the same time, the "thematic sound" gradients of modulating tone and timbre establish smooth lines of sonorous continuity against which Deleuze's words and voice are set. Pinhas' work here is at once the most territorial of the pieces we have examined, in that Deleuze's concepts and the grain of his voice clearly function as continuous centering elements in the sound assemblage (see A Thousand Plateaus 96), and also perhaps the most conceptually radical in its extensive deployment of Deleuze's thought according to its own internal logic and rhythm. Instead of the repetitive interpellations of harmonic doubling, we find pure differences of sonorous intensity.

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Smith and Murphy:
Deleuze and Guattari

We Thank the Technology Goddess

Beginning Credits and Beyond
Blair: a-ha

Daughtry: Five Windows
Review Essay
Eldredge: Jackson
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