Luigi Russolo

From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Photo of Luigi Russolo, c. 1916

Luigi Carlo Filippo Russolo (April 30, 1885 – February 4, 1947) was an Italian Futurist painter and composer, and the author of the manifestoes The Art of Noises (1913) and Musica Futurista.

See also: Manifesto of Futurist Painters (1910)


Russolo, 1909: 'Self-portrait with Skulls', painting
Russolo, 1911: 'La Rivolta / The Revolt', oil on canvas
Russolo, 1911-12: 'Music / La Musica, oil-painting on canvas; - image of the futurist vision of a pianist playing for his audience
Russolo, 1912: 'Plastic synthesis of a Moving Women', oil on canvas
Russolo, 1913: 'Score of en-harmonic notation'; - quote of Russolo, 1913: 'We must enlarge and enrich more and more the domain of musical sounds. Our sensibility requires it.. .This need and this tendency can be totally realized only through the joining and substituting of noises to and for musical sounds.'
Russolo, 1913: Instruments for futuristic music, called 'Bruitism', partly electrically operated, built by Russolo
Photo of Russolo, 1913 and his assistant, Ugo Piatti, in their Milan studio with their Intonarumori (noise machines), L'Arte dei rumori (The Art of Noises), 1913
Russolo, 1913: 'Dynamism of a Car', painting; - quote of Russolo, 1913: 'Noise was really not born before the 19th century, with the advent of machinery. Today noise reigns supreme over human sensibility'
Russolo, 1929: 'Soap-dish', painting
Russolo, 1929: 'Tower Bridge', oil-painting on panel
  • Above all, we [the Italian Futurist painters] continue and develop the divisionist principle, but we are not engaged in Divisionism [developed by Seurat and Signac ]. We apply an instinctive complementarism which is not, for us, an acquired technique, but rather a way of seeing things.
    • Quote of Russolo in: Le Futurisme: Création et avant-garde, Giovanni Lista, 2001; as cited in Futurism, ed. By Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008, p. 47.
  • Sound is defined as the result of a succession of regular and periodic vibrations. Noise is instead caused by motions that are irregular, as much in time as in intensity. 'A musical sensation,' says Helmholtz 'appears to the ear as a perfectly stable, uniform, and invariable sound.' But the quality of continuity that sound has with respect to noise, which seems instead fragmentary and irregular, is not an element sufficient to make a sharp distinction between sound and noise. We know that the production of sound requires not only that a body vibrate regularly but also that these vibrations persist in the auditory nerve until the following vibration has arrived, so that the periodic vibrations blend to form a continuous musical sound. At least sixteen vibrations per second are needed for this. Now, if I succeed in producing a noise with this speed. I will get a sound made up of the totality of so many noises--or better, noise whose successive repetitions will be sufficiently rapid to give a sensation of continuity like that of sound.
    • Russolo. English trans. Barclay Brown (1986: 37).

The Art of Noise, 1913

The Art of Noise, 1913, Luigi Russolo - translated from 'L'arte dei Rumori', futurist manifesto, 1913; in Great Bear Pamphlet, transl. Robert Filliou, series ed. Michael Tencer, Something Else Press, 1967
great futurist musician
On March 9, 1913, during our bloody victory over four thousand passé-ists in the Costanzi Theater of Rome, we [Russolo, with Marinetti, Boccioni, Carrà, Balla, Soffici, Papini, and Cavacchioli] were fist-and-cane-fighting in defense of your Futurist Music, performed by a powerful orchestra, when suddenly my intuitive mind conceived a new art that only your genius can create: the Art of Noises, logical consequence of your marvelous innovations.
  • p. 4
  • In antiquity, life was nothing but silence. Noise was really not born before the 19th century, with the advent of machinery. Today noise reigns supreme over human sensibility.
    • p. 4
  • This revolution of music is paralleled by the increasing proliferation of machinery sharing in human labor. In the pounding atmosphere of great cities as well as in the formerly silent countryside, machines create today such a large number of varied noises that pure sound, with its littleness and its monotony, now fails to arouse any emotion.
    • p. 5
  • This evolution toward noise-sound is only possible today. The ear of an eighteenth century man never could have withstood the discordant intensity of some of the chords produced by our orchestras (whose performers are three times as numerous); on the other hand our ears rejoice in it, for they are attuned to modern life, rich in all sorts of noises. But our ears far from being satisfied, keep asking for bigger acoustic sensations. However, musical sound is too restricted in the variety and the quality of its tones. Music marks time in this small circle and vainly tries to create a new variety of tones.. .We must break at all cost from this restrictive circle of pure sounds and conquer the infinite variety of noise-sounds.
    • p. 6
  • Each sound carries with it a nucleus of foreknown and foregone sensations predisposing the auditor to boredom, in spite of all the efforts of innovating composers. All of us have liked and enjoyed the harmonies of the great masters. For years, Beethoven and Wagner have deliciously shaken our hearts. Now we are fed up with them. This is why we get infinitely more pleasure imagining combinations of the sounds of trolleys, autos and other vehicles, and loud crowds, than listening once more, for instance, to the heroic or pastoral symphonies.
    • p. 6
  • My ears open nasals! beware! such joy is yours o my people to sense see ear scent drink everything everything everything taratatatatata the machineguns shouting twisting under a thousand bites slaps traaktraak cudgellings whippings pic pac POUMTOUMB juggling clowns’ jump in full sky height 200 meters it's the gunshooting Downwards guffaws of swamps laughter buffalos chariots stings prancing of horses ammunition-wagons flue flac zang chaak chaak rearings pirouettes patatraak bespatterings manesneighings i i i i i i i medley tinklings three bulgarian batallions on the move crook- craak (double bar slowly) Choumi Maritza o Karvavena officers' shouts copper plates knocking against each other pam ici (vite) pac over there BOUM-pam-pam-pam here there there farther all around very high look-out goddamnit on the head chaak marvelous! flames flames flames flames flames flames flames crawl from forts over there Choukri Pacha telephone orders to 27 forts in turkish German hello Ibrahim! Rudolf hello! hello! actors roles blowing-echoes odor-hay-mud-manure I can't feel my frozen feet stale odor rotting gongs flutes clarinets pipes everywhere up down birds twitter beatitude shade greenness cipcip ip-zzip herds pastures dong-dong-dong-ding-bééé Orchestra
    • p. 8
  • Noise accompanies every manifestation of our life. Noise is familiar to us. Noise has the power to bring us back to life. On the other hand, sound, foreign to life, always a musical, outside thing, an occasional element, has come to strike our ears no more than an overly familiar face does our eye. Noise, gushing confusely and irregularly out of life, is never totally revealed to us and it keeps in store innumerable surprises for our benefit. We feel certain that in selecting and coordinating all noises we will enrich men with a voluptuousness they did not suspect.
    • p. 9
  • Conclusions:
1. We must enlarge and enrich more and more the domain of musical sounds. Our sensibility requires it. In fact it can be noticed that all contemporary composers of genius tend to stress the most complex dissonances. Moving away from pure sound, they nearly reach noise-sound. This need and this tendency can be totally realized only through the joining and substituting of noises to and for musical sounds.
  • p. 11
2. We must replace the limited variety of timbres of orchestral instruments by the infinite variety of timbres of noises obtained through special mechanisms.
  • p. 11
3. The musician's sensibility, once he is rid of facile, traditional rhythms, will find in the domain of noises the means of development and renewal, an easy task, since each noise offers us the union of the most diverse rhythms as well as its dominant one.
  • p. 11
4. Each noise possesses among its irregular vibrations a predominant basic pitch. This will make it easy to obtain, while building instruments meant to produce this sound, a very wide variety of pitches, half-pitches and quarter-pitches. This variety of pitches will not deprive each noise of its characteristic timbre but, rather, increase its range.
  • p. 11
5. The technical difficulties presented by the construction of these instruments are not grave. As soon as we will have found the mechanical principle which produces a certain noise, we will be able to graduate its pitch according to the laws of acoustics. For instance, if the instrument employs a rotating movement, we will speed it up or slow it down. When not dealing with a rotating instrument we will increase or decrease the size or the tension of the sound-making parts.
  • p. 11
6. This new orchestra will produce the most complex and newest sonic emotions, not through a succession of imitative noises reproducing life, but rather through a fantastic association of these varied sounds. For this reason, every instrument must make possible the changing of pitches through a built-in, larger or smaller resonator or other extension.
  • p. 11
7. The variety of noises is infinite. We certainly possess nowadays over a thousand different machines, among whose thousand different noises we can distinguish. With the endless multiplication of machinery, one day we will be able to distinguish among ten, twenty or thirty thousand different noises. We will not have to imitate these noises but rather to combine them according to our artistic fantasy.
  • p. 12
8. We invite all the truly gifted and bold young musicians to analyze all noises so as to understand their different composing rhythms, their main and their secondary pitches. Comparing these noise sounds to other sounds they will realize how the latter are more varied than the former. Thus the comprehension, the taste, and the passion for noises will be developed. Our expanded sensibility will gain futurist ears as it already has futurist eyes. In a few years, the engines of our industrial cities will be skillfully tuned so that every factory is turned into an intoxicating orchestra of noises.
  • p. 12
  • My dear Pratella, I submit to your futurist genius these new ideas, and I invite you to discuss them with me. I am not a musician, so that I have no acoustic preferences, nor works to defend. I am a futurist painter who projects on a profoundly loved art his will to renew everything. This is why, bolder than the bolder professional musician, totally unpreoccupied with my apparent incompetence, knowing that audacity gives all prerogatives and all possibilities, I have conceived the renovation of music through the Art of Noise.
Luigi Russolo
Milano, March 11, 1913.
  • p. 12

Quotes about Luigi Russolo

  • Boccioni, Russolo and I all met in the Porta Vittoria café [in Milan, Italy], close to where we all lived, and we enthusiastically outlined a draft of our appeal [the 'Manifesto of Futurist Painters', late February, 1910]. The final version was somewhat laborious; we worked on it all day, all three of us and finished it that evening with Marinetti and the help of Decio Cinti, the group's secretary.
    • Carlo Carrà in: Éclat de choses ordinaries Carrà, (1913), as quoted in Futurism, Didier Ottinger (ed.), 2008, p. 27
    • the painters Bonzagni and Romani signed this famous Manifesto version too, but withdraw soon; they were replaced by Giacomo Balla and Gino Severini
  • Musicas-machinery-noise and urban-sound-as-music received their first notable currency among the Italian Futurists in the immediate prewar years. Balilla Pratella and his 'ideologist' Luigi Russolo yearned for a music that not only celebrated the city in some programmatic way but that reproduced it.
    • Richard Stites (1988), in Revolutionary Dreams: Utopian Vision and Experimental Life in the Russian Revolution. p. 178
  • Luigi Russolo (1885–1947) — painter, composer, builder of musical instruments, and first-hour member of the Italian Futurist movement — was a crucial figure in the evolution of twentieth-century aesthetics. As creator of the first systematic poetics of noise and inventor of what has been considered the first mechanical sound synthesizer, Russolo looms large in the development of twentieth-century music.
    • Luciano Chessa, in Luigi Russolo, Futurist: Noise, Visual Arts, and the Occult, Univ. of California Press, 2012
Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: