Monday, June 22, 2015

Luigi Russolo (30 April 1885 â€" 6 February 1947) was an Italian Futurist painter, composer, builder of experimental musical instruments, and the author of the manifesto The Art of Noises (1913). He is often regarded as one of the first noise music experimental composers with his performances of noise music concerts in 1913â€"14 and then again after World War I, notably in Paris in 1921. He designed and constructed a number of noise-generating devices called Intonarumori.


Luigi Russolo was perhaps the first noise artist. His 1913 manifesto, L'Arte dei Rumori, translated as The Art of Noises, stated that the industrial revolution had given modern men a greater capacity to appreciate more complex sounds. Russolo found traditional melodic music confining, and he envisioned noise music as its future replacement.

Russolo designed and constructed a number of noise-generating devices called Intonarumori, and assembled a noise orchestra to perform with them. A performance of his Gran Concerto Futuristico (1917) was met with strong disapproval and violence from the audience, as Russolo himself had predicted. None of his intoning devices have survived, though recently some have been reconstructed and used in performances. Although Russolo's works bear little resemblance to modern noise music, his pioneering creations cannot be overlooked as an essential stage in the evolution of the several genres in this category. Many artists are now familiar with Russolo's manifesto.

At first the art of music sought purity, limpidity and sweetness of sound. Then different sounds were amalgamated, care being taken, however, to caress the ear with gentle harmonies. Today music, as it becomes continually more complicated, strives to amalgamate the most dissonant, strange and harsh sounds. In this way we come ever closer to noise-sound.

Antonio Russolo, another Italian Futurist composer and Luigi's brother, produced a recording of two works featuring the original Intonarumori. The phonograph recording, made in 1921, included works entitled Corale and Serenata, which combined conventional orchestral music set against the sound of the noise machines. It is the only surviving contemporaneous sound recording of Luigi Russolo's noise music.

Russolo and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti gave the first concert of Futurist music, complete with intonarumori, in April 1914, causing a riot. The program comprised four "networks of noises" with the following titles:

  • Awakening of a City
  • Meeting of cars and aeroplanes
  • Dining on the terrace of the Casino
  • Skirmish in the oasis.

Some of Russolo's instruments were destroyed in World War II; others have simply disappeared. Replicas of the instruments have since been built.

Art of Noises classification of noise types

The Art of Noises classified "noise-sound" into six groups:

  1. Roars, Thunderings, Explosions, Hissing roars, Bangs, Booms
  2. Whistling, Hissing, Puffing
  3. Whispers, Murmurs, Mumbling, Muttering, Gurgling
  4. Noises obtained by beating on metals, woods, skins, stones, pottery, etc.
  5. Voices of animals and people, Shouts, Screams, Shrieks, Wails, Hoots, Howls, Death rattles, Sobs
  6. Screeching, Creaking, Rustling, Buzzing, Crackling, Scraping

See also

  • Musica Futurista
  • Experimental music
  • Custom-made instruments
  • List of custom-made instrument builders
  • Noise music
  • Futurism
  • List of noise musicians



  • Chilvers, Ian, & John Glaves-Smith. A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

Further reading

  • Luciano Chessa: Luigi Russolo, Futurist. Noise, Visual Arts, and the Occult. University of California Press, 2012

External links

  • Intonarumori: history, working and photographs of Russolo's Intonarumori (noise makers) at
  • Media Art Net | Russolo, Luigi: Intonarumori (at
  • Archive Russolo recordings at LTM
  • Peggy Guggenheim Collection: Luigi Russolo
  • "Art of Noise" at
  • Bob Osborn's Futurism: Luigi Russolo
  • Prof. Russolo & His Noise Intoners
  • [2] mp3 audio files of the noise music of Luigi Russolo on UbuWeb
  • Russolo's Intonarumori
  • Music for 16 Futurist Noise Intoners on YouTube
  • [3] mp3 audio files of the music of Luigi Russolo on UbuWeb
  • Three audio clips by Luigi Russolo: Serenata, Corale and Risveglio di una città. (
  • Video of Carnegie Mellon University's 2013 Wats:ON? NOISE Festival, Intonarumori-100 performance featuring 11 reconstructed Intonarumori Instruments.

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