Music and the "any-space-whatever": translating existential chaos into artistic compostion

John Scannell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper looks at the importance of rhythmic creativity for the African-American musician as a means of counteracting the inherent "non-space" of diasporic existence. Drawing upon the work of Deleuze and Guattari, as well as from the fields of cultural studies and diaspora theory, this paper examines the immanent existential and territorial concerns of the "minor" subject, as might be witnessed in the music of James Brown. Rather than attribute Brown's African-American identity as the defining characteristic of his musical style, as many previous academic accounts have done, I will instead look at his work as the product of a lack of an identity, and how this idea might be understood in relation to Augé's "non-places", the idiosyncratic interpretation of Augé by Deleuze in his Cinema books, and the possible correspondence of this concept of the "non-place"/"any-space-whatever" with the rhizomorphic, post-national. The Black Atlantic subject described by Paul Gilroy. Rather than simply attribute Brown's music as a reiteration of African diasporic musical legacy, the paper instead attempts to define Brown's funk as the work of a becoming-subject, where the creativity of the minority in these "any-space-whatevers" is due to being thrown into the creative chaos of an intolerable position.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-211
Number of pages13
JournalTransforming cultures ejournal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • music
  • culture
  • place


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