This week, I will be researching Sound and Audio Art, beginning with the supposed first Noise Artist and Experimental composer, Luigi Russolo, and the effects of his work between 1913-1930. I am researching Russolo to achieve a greater understanding of the origins of Noise and Audio based Art, additionally to provide context and inspiration to my own Audio based experimentation.
Luigi Russolo is widely viewed to be the first Noise Artist and Experimental Composer, the ‘father of Noise music’. Russolo was an Italian painter, composer and builder of original musical instruments and machines who lived between 1885 and 1947. His father was a cathedral organist, and Russolo would study painting in school and produce paintings throughout his life, but ultimately return to music. Russolo’s influence began accompanied by the futurism movement in Italy in 1910; his friendship with Carra and Boccioni placed him at the centre of the movement which he began to follow, taking part in the ‘serata’ – futurist dinner parties involving angry spoken poetry and flag-burning. The futurist movement alongside listening to a performance of his friend’s futurist orchestra (Balilla Pratella), led him to write a drafted work of “L’arte dei Rumoni” (The Art of Noises) to Pratella, which he went on to produce as a Futurist manifesto in 1913.
Russolo was additionally an inventor, specifically of homemade instruments and noise machines. He named his collection of musical creations: ‘Intonarumori’, which created a new vocabulary of sounds with which he could compose music. Russolo performed with his Intonarumori between 1913-1914 in futurist concerts, which, as he predicted to be, were received with a mixture of praise, confusion and violent hostility. These performances were interrupted by the outbreak of World War I, in which Russolo was seriously injured, yet continued to compose and paint following such. In the 1920’s and 30’s, he spent time creating and perfecting more instruments, machines and noise making devices that ‘replicated the clatter of the industrial age and the boom of warfare’. Unfortunately, the majority of Russolo’s machines were burned in the Paris bombings of WWII, and the rest have been lost or destroyed over time, the only recordings to exist were made by his brother Antonio in 1921.
My plans for experimentation this week involve recording audio clips of sounds that I experience during the week, then editing this audio and compiling various noises to create short audio pieces in response to this week’s everyday experiences. I will also be recording video and taking photos to accompany the noises I record, however I am going to focus on just the audio experimentation this week before I combine it with any other mediums.
Birds and Boiling Rice – Experiment One
This Audio Experiment was composed from two recordings I took this week. The first recording was taken from my bedroom window to capture the noises the birds were making in the morning in the large tree nearby. The second recording I took that afternoon of the sound of my rice boiling as I was making dinner. I adjusted the audio slightly on both so that both noises could be heard at equal levels simultaneously, as I did with the other two experiments this week.
Rain: Indoors and Outdoors – Experiment Two
This Experiment is composed from two audio recordings, one being from my closed bedroom window, recording the noise of rain hitting against it, and the other recording of the same rain, but taken outside. The rain sounds drastically different between the indoor and outdoor recordings, and by combining them I feel like this experiment captured the true noise of the rain, by providing both experiences at once.
Cars and Birds – Experiment Three
My third experiment, I wanted to combine two recordings that were contrasting rather than complimentary of one another, and I thought that the harsh sound of cars in the road, accompanied with the soft sound of birds, would provide a juxtaposition between the man made and natural aspects of audio experiences in day-to-day life. I took the Car noises audio from the side of the main road leading down to the town of Aberystwyth, and I reused the recording that was part of my first experiment, of the birds outside my window, this time in a different context.
Open Culture. 2022. John Cage Performs Water Walk on “I’ve Got a Secret” (1960). [online] Available at: <https://openculture.com/2011/12/john_cage_performs_iwater_walki_on_ive_got_a_secret_1960_.html> [Accessed 9 October 2022].
Tate. 2022. John Cage 1912-1992| Tate. [online] Available at: <https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/john-cage-845> [Accessed 9 October 2022].
Water Walk. 1960. Directed by J. Cage. New York City: CBS Game Show : ‘I’ve Got a Secret’. Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXOIkT1-QWY&t=1s> [Accessed 9 October 2022]
Gosetti-Ferencei, J., 2007. The Ecstatic Quotidian. 1st ed. Penn State University Press, Chapter 1 : The Quotidian and Literary-Phenomenological Departures from Everydayness (pp. 13-40).
Enger, R., 2016. Luigi Russolo. [online] Obelisk Art History. Available at: <https://arthistoryproject.com/artists/luigi-russolo/> [Accessed 12 October 2022].
Estorickcollection.com. 2022. Luigi Russolo – Estorick Collection. [online] Available at: <https://www.estorickcollection.com/the-collection/luigi-russolo> [Accessed 12 October 2022].