Luigi Russolo – Risveglio di una Città (Awakening of a City)

Luigi Russolo – Risveglio di una Città (Awakening of a City)

The sound piece appropriately named is an audio homage to a Futurist milieu – a combustion of metallic nonsense and motorised burps which Russolo deems so eloquently as a “network of noises”.

In short, the audio piece is essentially a fusing of engines being started, revved and accelerated. Within this fusion sprouts metallic bubbles that sound like a metal drum being pelted with water, or hundreds of springs being recoiled, stretched and realised simultaneously.

As the piece progresses so too does the pitch of the figurative engines, only to be drowned out with silence as one motor begins to cool off before the next begins its race. Muffled exhaust pipes and high speed propellors meld into one another and vibrations begin to hum – as if all the blenders in a home appliance store are turned on consecutively one after the other, each obliterating a different object.

‘Luigi Russolo (1885 – 1947) was a painter, composer, builder of instruments and a member of the Italian futurist movement from its inception – represents a crucial moment in the evolution of the twentieth-century musical aesthetics. He is generally considered the father of the first systematic poetics of noise and by some even the creator of the synthesiser, and his influence on the likes of Edgar Varese, Pierre Schaeffer, and John cage is well documented.’ – Luciano Chessa 2012

Russolo’s work as a composer has provoked the work of others, however his invention of the Intonarumori (a group of experimental musical instruments) influenced greatly the work of Stravinsky.

Russolo captures the fervent rapacity and youthful violence of the Futurists deeming them almost as italian hit men glorified in science and speed. His work delineates the fanaticism the Futurists held for patriotism and technological advancement, as his oeuvre can be thought of as a documentation of the futurist and early twentieth-century zeitgeist.

Risveglio di una Città apprehends the universal dynamism of the futurists in a rather honest manner, as its muffled audio speaks for the seemingly lacking and failed clarity of the movement as violence and turbulence give way to a far more natural state – silence. 

The composition relies upon these natural states of lacuna, as silence gives form to Russolo’s “network of noises”, conveying a sense of irony in the thought that at the core of futurism is no concern for lost knowledge, or rather substantial silence.

References:

Chessa, L 2012, Luigi Russolo, Futurist, University of California Press, Berkerley. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. [04 May 2017].

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