Futurists - The Art of Noise


"Ancient life was all silence. In the nineteenth century, with the invention of the machine, Noise was born. Today, Noise triumphs and reigns supreme over the sensibility of men." – Luigi Russolo

Luigi Russolo was a painter determined to open our ears to the noise of the modern age. His musical vision embraced "the coming and going of pistons, the howl of mechanical saws, the jilting of a tram on its rails" – the symphonic blending of sounds that defined life in the urban metropolis of the early 1900s.

Russolo wrote his manifesto in 1913 entitled "The Art of Noise," a bold treatise declaiming the end of conventional Western music, and the dawning of a new music based on the grinding, exploding, crackling and buzzing of mechanical instruments.


"Every manifestation of life is accompanied by noise. Noise is therefore familiar to our ears and has the power to remind us immediately of life itself. Musical sound, a thing extraneous to life and independent of it... has become to our ears what a too familiar face is to our eyes" – Luigi Russolo

Luigi Russolo and his assistant Ugo Piatti built one of the first mechanical orchestras, the "intonarumori" (noise machines), 27 different types of inters, each producing a unique sound in several folloies or "families" of instruments, including "howlers," "exploders," "crumplers," "hissers," and "scrapers." In the 1920s, Russolo performed numerous concerts with these outrageous instruments emitting their startling sounds.

"Awakening of A City" ("Risveglio di una Citta") suggests a larger purpose, its arsenal of noises, evoking the sounds of urban sirens and factory whistles, is a call to awakening our ears to the dawning of a new music of noise.