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(futurist manifesto, 1913)
by Luigi Russolo translated by Robert Filliou
1967 A Great Bear Pamphlet
THE ART OF NOISE LUIGI RUSSOLO ubuclassics 2004 .
com 3 .ubuclassics The Art of Noise Luigi Russolo Originally published in 1967 as a Great Bear Pamphlet by Something Else Press. ubuclassics www.com Series Editor: Michael Tencer ubu.ubu.
or mutedly. life went on silently. avalanches.The Art of Noise (translated from L’arte dei Rumori) My dear Balilla Pratella in the Costanzi Theater of Rome. with the advent of machinery. Today noise reigns supreme over human sensibility. during our bloody victory over four thousand passé-ists great futurist musician. when suddenly my intuitive mind conceived a new art that only your genius can create: the Art of Noises. In antiquity. casamazed by the first sounds he obtained out of a hole in reeds or a stretched string. sequence of your marvelous innovations. except for storms. life was nothing but silence. hurricanes. In fact. 1913. For several centuries. nor prolonged nor varied. Futurist Music. we were fist-and-cane-fighting in defense of your On March 9. performed by a powerful orchestra. nature is normally silent. This is why man was thoroughly . The loudest noises were neither intense. logical conNoise was really not born before the 19th century. 4 4 cades and some exceptional telluric movements.
But people kept considering sound Pythagoras. plex polyphony and a greater variety of instrumental tones and coloring. thus preparing the ground 5 5 . so the other arts forged ahead and superimposed upon reality.the art of noise luigi russolo ubuclassics with religious respect. Thus we are approaching noise-sound. This hieratic atmosphere bypassed it. The chord did not yet these parts could produce together. The need for and the search for the simultaneous union of different sounds (that is to say of its complex. strangest and most dissonant amalgams of sound. but merely horizontal. the conception of these parts was not vertical. to end it amalgamated different sounds. The Greeks. now fails to arouse any emotion. Then labor. have only in its unfolding through time. who thereby enriched their rites Primitive people attributed to sound a divine origin. an inviolable and sacred world. the chord). It has tried To excite our sensibility. mon chord was followed by chords enriched with some random dissonances. In the Middle Ages music did progress through the development and modifications of the Greek tetracord system. different from and independent of life. according to which only some consonant intervals were admitted. Nowadays musical art aims at the shrilliest.com to obtain the most complex succession of dissonant chords. and reserved for the priests. with their musical theory mathematically determined by limited the domain of music until now and made almost impossible the harmony they were unaware of. paralleled by the increasing proliferation of machinery sharing in human tryside. Thus was developed the conception of sound as something apart. This revolution of music is First of all. the development of the different parts was not subordinated to the chord that it in the very complex polyphonies of the Flemish composers. The result of this was music. a fantastic world was bound to slow down the progress of music. music has developed into a search for a more com- ubu. musical art looked for the soft and limpid purity of sound. machines create today such a large number of varied noises that pure sound. a narrow conception so persistent that we still find exist. came gradually: the assonant comup with the persistent and complicated dissonances of contemporary music. intent upon caressing the ear with suave harmonies. It became surrounded with a new mystery. In the pounding atmosphere of great cities as well as in the formerly silent counwith its littleness and its monotony.
for instance. In this fashion ubu. Now we are fed up with them. and loud symphonies. Music marks time in this small circle and vainly tries to create a new varisounds and conquer the infinite variety of noise-sounds. crowds. This evolution toward noise-sound is only possible today. wooden wind instruments. rich in all sorts of noises. and percussion ety of tones. metallic wind instruments. which will stir up a bit the somnolent atmosphere of concert halls.com their seats. Shall plaintive meeowing of violins? This plain talk will make all music maniacs jump in 6 6 . For years. All of us have liked and enjoyed the harmonies of the great masters. autos and other vehicles. to the heroic or pastoral modern orchestra represents without concluding that the acoustic results are pitiful. musical sound is too restricted in the variety and the quality of instruments with different sound tones: rubbed string instruments. The most complicated orchestra can be reduced to four or five categories of sensations. ubuclassics predisposing the auditor to boredom. Is It is hardly possible to consider the enormous mobilization of energy that a there any.the art of noise luigi russolo for Musical Noise. on the other hand our ears rejoice in it. than listening once more. However. 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). in spite of all the efforts of innovating com- Each sound carries with it a nucleus of foreknown and foregone sensations posers. keep asking for bigger acoustic its tones. thing more ridiculous in the world than twenty men slaving to increase the we visit one of them together? Let’s go inside one of these hospitals for anemic sounds. pinched string instruments. Beethoven and Wagner have deliciously shaken our hearts. the first bar is dripping with boredom stemming from familiarity. We must break at all cost from this restrictive circle of pure instruments. But our ears far from being satisfied. See. and we sip from bar to bar two or three sorts of boredom and keep waiting for the extraorgives you a foretaste of the boredom that will drip from the next bar. This is why we get infinitely more pleasure imagining combinations of the sounds of trolleys. for they are attuned to modern life.
We will have fun imagining our orchestra- of railroad stations. the white solemn breathing of a city at night. all echoes-quick! take-it-crumble it-spread it-infinite distance to hell. POUAH! musical reality finally by distributing big loud slaps right and left. for I can’t repress much longer the intense desire to create a true ing over violins and pianos. and I don’t intend to refute it. make without talking or singing. the starts and jumps of a carriage on the pavement. a horse trotting away. the stridency of mechanical saws. streams. the orchestra of a great battle: tion of department stores’ sliding doors. air and gas inside metallic pipes. The poet 1 2 3 4 5 seconds the siege canons gut the silence by a chord- Tamtoumb! Immediately echoes. the hubbub of the crowds. all the noises made by feline and domestic animals and all those man’s mouth can tive than the eye. And we must not forget the very new noises of Modern Warfare. echoes. the whipping of flags. leaves. in his new futurist style. rivers. To convince you of the surprising variety of noises. the tlings of engines breathing with obvious animal spirits. Meanwhile we witness the brewing of a ubuclassics heartrending mixture composed of the monotony of the sensations and the stupid and religious swooning of the audience. the loud jumping of trolleys on their rails. wind.the art of noise luigi russolo dinary sensation that will never materialize. with almost Bhuddist patience. textile mills. cascades. stepping and push- is futile. drunk on experiencing for the thousandth Let’s get out quickly. echoes. the rumblings and rattons. I will mention thunder. to enumerate all the delicate noises that give Some will object that noise is necessarily unpleasant to the ear. bassoons and moaning organs! Let’s go out! time. power plants and Marinetti. The objection pleasant sensations. in a letter from the Bulgarian trenches of Ariadnople described to me as follows. the different roars subways. iron foundries. the rising and falling of pis- snapping of whips. printing houses. In the center. and we will vary the pleasures of our sensibilities by distinguishing Let’s walk together through a great modern capital. center of these flattened TAMTOUMBS-width 50 square kilometers-leap 2 3 6 8 splinters-fisticuffs-headrammings-rapid fire 7 7 ubu.com . with the ear more atten- among the gurglings of water. with elegant and fashionable ecstasy.
regularity.com tiny noises revomit them precise them out of their echoing rows loggias groundfloor boxes 2. pendulum game. ferocity.craak (double bar slowly) Choumi Maritza each other pam ici (vite) pac over there BOUM-pam-pam-pam damnit on the head chaak marvelous! flames flames flames flames flames flames flames crawl from forts over there Choukri Pacha telephone orders to 27 forts roles blowing-echoes odor-hay-mud-manure I can’t feel my in turkish German hello Ibrahim! Rudolf hello! hello! actors frozen feet stale odor rotting gongs flutes clarinets pipes everycip ip-zzip herds pastures dong-dong-dong-ding-bééé Orchestra playing playing playing Great fracas far from erasing drink Madmen keep hitting orchestra professors they bent beaten where up down birds twitter beatitude shade greenness cip- mouth wide open diameter 1 kilometer Debris of echos in this nized in the audience Maritza Tungia Rodopes 1st and 2d theater of laying rivers sitting villages standing mounts recogubu.000 shrapnels gesticulation 8 8 . fatality- ubuclassics very young-very mad mad mad-very agitated altos of the battle everything everything everything taratatatatata the machinecudgellings whippings pic pac POUMTOUMB juggling guns shouting twisting under a thousand bites slaps traaktraak clowns’ jump in full sky height 200 meters it’s the gunshoot- ing 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 o Karvavena officers’ shouts copper plates knocking against here there there farther all around very high look-out godon the move crook.the art of noise luigi russolo this grave bass apparent slowness-scan the strange madmen Fury anguish breathless ears My ears open nasals! beware! such joy is yours o my people to sense see ear scent drink batteries Violence.
complete ascending or descending scale through the speeding up or slowing down of Noise has the power to bring us back to life. sound.the art of noise luigi russolo explosion zang-toumb white handkerchiefs full of gold toumbquick such enthusiasm pulling hair very black hairs ZANG- ubuclassics toumb clouds-gallery 2. an occasional element. prises for our benefit. Noise is familiar to us. The Although the characteristic of noise is to brutally bring us back to life. outside thing. The existence of this predomi- Each noise possesses a pitch. On the other hand.000 grenades thundering applause Quick TOUMB-TOUMB war noises orchestra blown beneath a note of silence hanging in full sky captive golden balloon controlling the fire. the ubu.com . Not that we want to destroy the movements and irregular vibrations (of tempo and intensity) of these noises! We wish simply to fix the degree or pitch of the predominant vibration. foreign to life. is never totally revealed to us and it keeps in store innumerable surwill enrich men with a voluptuousness they did not suspect. as noise differs from other sound in its irregular and confuse vibrations (in terms of tempo and intensity). at times even a chord dominating distinguishes it. these most varied noises. Certain noises obtained through a rotating movement can give us a the movement. Noise. always a musical. We want to score and regulate harmonically and rhythmically nant pitch offers us the technical means of scoring these noises. Noise accompanies every manifestation of our life. We feel certain that in selecting and coordinating all noises we art of noises will extract its main emotive power from the special acoustic pleasure that 9 9 art of noises must not be limited to a mere imitative reproduction. has come to strike our ears no more than an overly familiar face does our eye. that is to say to give to a noise a certain variety of pitches without losing the timbre that characterizes and over the whole of these irregular vibrations. gushing confusely and irregularly out of life.
but as well a predomubu. Here are the six categories of noises for the futurist orchestra that we intend soon to realize mechanically: ubuclassics roars claps noises of falling water driving noises bellows 3 1 whistles snorts snores 2 whispers rustlings grunts mutterings grumbles gurgles 5 shrill sounds buzzings jingles shuffles cracks 4 stone. There exists not only a predominant pitch. skin. rattlings. moans. metal. 6 We have included in these 6 categories the most characteristic fundamental noises: the noise are infinite. percussive noises using animal and human voices: laughter. etc. wood. 10 10 .the art of noise luigi russolo the inspired artist will obtain in combining noises.com others are hardly more than combinations of them. sobs shouts. screams. baked earth. The rhythmic movements of a inant rhythm around which more secondary rhythms are equally perceptible.
2 . while building instruments meant to produce this sound. As soon as we will have found the mechanical principle which produces a certain noise. For this reason.This new orchestra will produce the most complex and newest sonic emotions. This variety of pitches will not deprive each noise of its characteristic timbre but. a very wide variety of pitches. they nearly reach noise-sound. genius tend to stress the most complex dissonances. 3 . we will be able to graduate its pitch according to the laws of acoustics. an easy task. infinite variety of timbres of noises obtained through special mechanisms. For down. instance. traditional rhythms. will find This will make it easy to obtain. we will speed it up or slow it 5 .Each noise possesses among its irregular vibrations a predominant basic pitch. but rather through a fantasble the changing of pitches through a built-in. When not dealing with a rotating instrument we will increase or decrease the size or the tension of the sound-making parts. once he is rid of facile. ubu. if the instrument employs a rotating movement. larger or smaller resonator or other exten11 11 6 . 4 .The technical difficulties presented by the construction of these instruments not through a succession of imitative noises reproducing life. Moving away from pure sound. half-pitches and quarter-pitches. In fact it can be noticed that all contemporary composers of 1 . rather. since each noise offers us the union of the most diverse rhythms as well as its dominant one.com tic association of these varied sounds.We must enlarge and enrich more and more the domain of musical sounds. every instrument must make possi- . This need and this tendency can be totally realized only through the joining and substituting of noises to and for musical sounds.the art of noise luigi russolo ubuclassics Conclusions: Our sensibility requires it.We must replace the limited variety of timbres of orchestral instruments by the in the domain of noises the means of development and renewal. increase its range.The musician’s sensibility. are not grave.
8 . one day we will be able to distinguish among ten. I submit to your futurist genius these new ideas. Comparing these noise sounds to other sounds they will realize how the latter are more varied than the former. In a few years. Our expanded sensibility will gain futurist will be skillfully tuned so that every factory is turned into an intoxicating orchestra of you to discuss them with me. 1913. We certainly possess nowadays over a ubuclassics thousand different machines. March 11. twenty or thirty thousand different noises. nor works to defend. and I invite ences. their main and their secondary pitches. 61. the taste. Thus the comprehension. the engines of our industrial cities noises. will not have to imitate these noises but rather to combine them accord- es so as to understand their different composing rhythms. totally unpreoccupied with my apparent incompetence. and ears as it already has futurist eyes. This is why. I am not a musician. among whose thousand different noises we can distinguish. 7 . Painter My dear Pratella.We invite all the truly gifted and bold young musicians to analyze all nois- the passion for noises will be developed.the art of noise luigi russolo sion. Luigi Russolo Milano. Milano.The variety of noises is infinite. I am a futurist painter who projects on a profoundly loved cian. Direction of the futurist movement: Corso Venezia. We ing to our artistic fantasy. knowing that audacity ubu. With the endless multiplication of machinery.com 12 . so that I have no acoustic preferart his will to renew everything. I have conceived the renovation of music through the Art of Noise. bolder than the bolder professional musigives all prerogatives and all possibilities.
ubu.com 13 .the art of noise luigi russolo ubuclassics Luigi Russolo in 1913 with his mechanical orchestra.
explained and demonstrated for the first time the different noise Piatti before over 2000 persons filling up the Storchi Theatre. and the to all the auditors. the futurist painter Russolo. On the 2nd of June. perfecting his noise instruments and creating his first four Noise Networks that were finally performed during a first noise concert at Milano’s Red House. 1913. in the face of uncouth abuse and insults on the part of the “passé-ists. composed of 15 noise instru3 buzzers 2 gurglers 2 bursters 1 thunderer 3 whistlers 2 rustlers 1 shriller 1 shatterer 1 snorter small number of hasty rehearsals.” Right after this memorable evening. creator instruments that he had just invented and built in collaboration with the painter Ugo The futurist composer Pratella and the poet Marinetti then undertook the defense of these amazing inventions in a violent contradictory debate. due to the truly startling performance obtained by Russolo revealed a new sonic voluptuousness The four noise networks are not mere impressionistic reproductions of life around us.com 14 . Through a clever variation of pitches. Inside the large hall. in Modena. the leaders of the futurist group and several important Italian journalists were massed around this strange orchestra: they greeted with enthusiastic applause and hurrays the four different noise networks whose titles follow: Awakening of a Capital Meeting of Automobiles and Airplanes Dining Time at the Casino Terrasse Skirmish at the Oasis ments: Russolo himself was conducting the orchestra. and become abstract ele- ubu. but rather moving noise syntheses. the orchestra was almost always perfect. on the evening of August 11.the art of noise luigi russolo First Concert of Futurist Noise Instruments ubuclassics of the Art of Noise. In spite of some lack of experience on the part of the performers. the noises lose their imitative and accidental episodic quality. the futurist painter Russolo went back to work.
no one remembered autos.com 15 . Listening to the harmonized combined pitches of the bursters.the art of noise luigi russolo ments of art. one rather experienced an intense emotion of futurist art. ubu. locomotives or running waters. ubuclassics and the gurglers. absolutely unforeseen and like nothing but itself. the whistlers.
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