Audio culture – introduction / Liberation of sound – Edgard Varese / Luigi Russolo – “Art of Noises”

Luigi Russolo was part of the futurist movement that saw the beauty in the modern city and found amaze- ment in technology. In his manifesto, ‘the art of noise’, Luigi Russolo describes the breaking of the 12 tonal music structure that was the common until after the industrial revolution. He describes the modern orchestra (of his time in 1913) twenty ridiculous men slaving to increase the plaintive meeowing of violins, he contin- ues and describes the orchestra’s sounds as pitiful. Russolo wanted to introduce noise as a valid sound in the modern orchestra by utilizing machines that would make these sounds, rather than to imitate sounds with conventional music instruments – to bring into the creation of music the every day life and sounds of mod- ern living. He built machines that created rumbles, roars, whistles, hisses, gurgles, screeches, and crackles. I always saw him as the rst sound artist, utilizing sound as his main sculpturing material.

Varese, an accomplished piano composer, shared the same love for ‘tech’ and noise as Russolo, he saw all music as a series of organised noises. Varese, maybe as opposed to Russolo, wanted to add to the western 12 tone system a technological/electronical layer that will liberate it from its constraints. he wanted to add new timbers to the accustomed ear and introduce di erent ‘colors’ that western music then didn’t allow – sounds that we are well accustomed to in today’s modern music(EDM, IDM, POP or ROCK for that matter). Varese saw music and sounds as colors and objects. his masterpiece, poeme electronique, that was conceived for the Phillips pavilion for the 1958 world fair was an audio visual experience that was years ahead of its time.

As many others, Varese and Russolo saw progress and technology as their medium for creation. they both were early adopters of new techniques, embraced and led the change with the creation of recorded and per- formative music. All art utilizes some sort of technology for its creation, I see the futurist (Those who came after them in france – musique concrete) as the leading locomotive as the leading change in music in the last century.

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