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Concert Wed Mar 27 2013

Valerio Tricoli and the real Art Of Noise(s) at Lampo

Tricoli.jpg

Valerio Tricoli

To fans of harsh noise and experimental music, the name Luigi Russolo is intoned solemnly the way jazz buffs call upon Buddy Bolden in their hour of reverence. The two share a shortfall -- they were innovators in their form who existed just before the advent of readily available mechanical reproduction. Russolo, a painter, theorist, and member of the Futurist art movement, created The Art Of Noises (ring a bell?), a manifesto that suggested that life after the Industrial Revolution had created an evolution not just in production, but in consumption. He believed that people living amidst the audible detritus of modern life had become more able to appreciate more complex sounds, and looks fondly toward the day when the composer "strives to amalgamate the most dissonant, strange, and harsh sounds. In this way we come ever closer to noise-sound." He even created his own pitched noise instruments, which he called Intonarumori. The trouble is, these noise-machines were created in the mid-1910s and never really properly recorded or documented. The few acetates that exist give us only a bit more flavor of their existence than the scores of legends and second-hand stories about Buddy Bolden walking through the streets of New Orleans, wailing so loud he could be heard five blocks over.

2013 marks the 100th anniversary of The Art of Noises, and a number of celebrations are happening this year in Italy. In additional, Chicago's avant garde music organization Lampo will also be celebrating Russolo's shot heard 'round the heavens this Saturday (March 30, 8:00 p.m.), as Valerio Tricoli performs two pieces at the Graham Foundation's Madlener House (4 W. Burton Ave., Chicago). The pieces have been written exclusively for Lampo, and are tributes to Russolo and his groundbreaking ideas.

In the words of the composer, "'An Homage to Luigi Russolo' [is] a live electro-acoustic improvisation for electronic devices, self-built instruments, found sounds and voice. This structured improvisation will deal with all the sonic practices and possibilities suggested by Russolo in "The Art Of Noises." A tuned noise mix that includes references to F. T. Marinetti's free-word concrete poem "La Battaglia Di Adrianopoli," which was sent by the author to Russolo only a few months before the conception of "The Art Of Noises" and indeed represents a major influence on Russolo's revolutionary ideas."

The second piece, "La Solidità Della Nebbia," was created in part from samples of Tricoli's homebuilt mechanical devices based on the ideas of the original Intonarumori, though different in their creation. Says Tricoli, "they aren't really imitations of the instruments in themselves, but personal (or more "up to date" ) ways to achieve supposedly similar sounds, which are "tuned noise". So for instance, the sound of a "Gurgler" is obtained by a mix recording of scraping metal, water, etc... Then I repeated it many times, so that i obtained a main single-pitch version of it, and then processed it accordingly with the tape machines (which is: modulate the tape speed to modulate the pitch of the "gurgling")..."

Regardless of whether "authentic" Intonarumori are used or simulations based on the original concepts, Tricoli's pieces (and the many other 100th anniversary performances happening around the globe) reaffirm Russolo's original faith in modern listeners to accept harshness and complexity in organized sound in an artistic context. From the riots that broke out at his own performers to modern listeners who find beauty in abstraction, sounds and ideas that were once thought to be impossible and unbearable are now available to all.

The show is free, RSVP here.

Here is one of those early recordings of Russolo's music. Notice that the Intonarumori's inventor has not yet felt he was ready to unleash the noisemakers as stand-alone music, instead pairing them with a classical orchestra. Even in this context, reaction was uniformly negative, and often aggressive.

 
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