Music-becoming-animal in works by Grisey, Aperghis and Levinas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The concept of ‘becoming-animal’ has rich potential for a discussion of a number of recent musical artworks. It links Deleuze and Guattari not only with Olivier Messiaen, the bird-lover par excellence, but also with composers Gérard Grisey, Michaël Levinas and Georges Aperghis. With Levinas's sonic hybridisations in the Ouverture pour une fête étrange (1979) sound is amplified to the point that it becomes ‘an almost animal living mob’. In the experimental music theatre piece Avis de tempête (2004) Georges Aperghis produces a ‘fetish reading' of Moby Dick in which 'Melville's universe impregnates the entire spectacle'. While the great whale does not appear anywhere in the libretto, the theme of fragmented subjectivity is prominent throughout. Finally, the temporalities at play in late works by Gérard Grisey embody aspects of animality. In Le Temps et l'écume (1989), three times – 'normal', extremely compressed and extremely slow, indicate the temporal frames of humans, birds and whales, and follow one another successively in the formal unfolding of the work. Beyond the representational or imitative qualities of earlier musics, the chapter argues that in each of these works, a Deleuze-Guattarian diagram is drawn in which music no longer evokes animality but rather itself becomes animal.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDeleuze and the Animal
EditorsColin Gardner, Patricia MacCormack
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781474422765
ISBN (Print)9781474422734, 9781474422741
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017

Publication series

NameDeleuze Connections
PublisherEdinburgh University Press


  • Gilles Deleuze
  • activism
  • anthropocene
  • human-animal studies
  • becoming-animal


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