02 Russolo

The Art of Noises: Futurist Manifesto

Luigi Russolo (b. 1885) was a Futurist painter, but better known for his music-related text The Art of Noises. He argued that "traditional orchestral instruments and composition are no longer capable of capturing the spirit of modern life, with its energy, speed, and noise" (10) and introduced his own intonarumori, or "noise instruments", in support of this belief.

Music has evolved over the ages and continues to evolve. It should only be expected to move beyond even simple sound itself, growing more complicated and drawing closer to noise-sound (noise being the product of machine or nature, sound the musical implementation of instrument or voice). This makes perfect sense, and it should not be expected that we have reached a musical peak when there is always new territory to pioneer, if we only look beyond the current plateau toward a new horizon. "We must break out of this limited circle of sounds and conquer the infinite variety of noise-sounds" (11).

To say that noise is only loud and disagreeable would be foolish and ignorant. In fact, I know of many noises commonly regarded as musical without any prescribed arrangement. The palette of noises includes all of the subtle and startling sounds of nature, of machine, of common objects, of animals, and of man without speech or song. Constricting noise to 'disagreeable' would be like constricting the traditional orchestra to 'percussion'. There is so much more! And who is to say that 'disagreeable' noises can not be musical? Noise may have pitch and rhythm just as sound does, which likens the two. Noise is familiar, as audible life, something we hear every day yet never quite the same. While sound has become familiar (to the point of boredom), it maintains some distance from the reality of life and if limited in its ability to evoke sensation.

With such a vast availability of possibilities, the realm for experimentation and new success is endless. Just as the first use of sound amazed humankind, the use of noise-sounds may open just as many doors and create as many new sensations, in time. "It will not be through a succession of noises imitative of life but through a fantastic association of the different timbres and rhythms that the new orchestra will obtain the most complex and novel emotions of sound" (14).

Wiki Bio for Luigi Russolo
The Art of Noises
Russolo's Instruments

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