Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Collapsing New Buildings

La Musica Futurista (the Music of Futurism) began with Francesco Balilla Pratella's publication of Futurist Musician's Manifesto (Manifesto dei Musicisti Futuristi) in 1910. Pratella, and other futurists wrote music that promoted disharmony and free rhythm in a deliberate attempt to overthrow the established composers of the time such as Puccini and Umberto Giordano.

In 1913, Pratella's new composition, "Inno all Vita" (Hymn of Life), had its Baptism of fire at the Costanzi theatre in Rome. The performance was met with such hostility that it sparked off riotous rampages.

A leap forward in the development of Musica Futurista occurred with the arrival of the painter and musician, Luigi Russolo.

Russolo's La Musica (1911)

Russolo introduced new sounds with the intent of brushing aside all before him from Beethoven to Wagner. Instead of using traditional instruments, with their pure sounds, Russolo applied sounds from the new, mechanized world the Futurists so revered: moving trams, the internal combustion engine, wild screaming, etc. Russolo, however did not reproduce the actual noises of the industrialized world, instead he invented a series of machines that could reproduce analogues of those sounds.


Large boxes (called Intonarumori) were constructed, each containing a device that produced a specific sound, by rotating a handle or pushing a plunger. A megaphone was attached to each box to project the sound. So was born the experimental, heavy industrial soundscape that has paved the way for a wide spectrum of musicians ever since from Stockhausen to NIN (Nine Inch Nails).


Russolo's intonarumori composition was performed at the theatre dal Verme in Milan in 1914. The performance was ruined by constant interruptions from the audience. The entire episode eventually erupted into a fist fight which was followed by legal action and court proceedings.

The intonarumori later found a better reception in London and Paris. Unfortunately, all were destroyed in World War II during the bombings on Paris.

Recently I discovered this utterly brilliant video by the Berlin-based avant-garde group Einsturzende Neubauten. The perfect epilogue to Russolo and his intonarumori.


Sources:
"Futurismo, L'avantguarda delle avantguardie", Claudia Slaris - Giunti press.
Jana Haŝková: Thanks for the YouTube link to the Einsturzende Neubauten video.

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