Listening as a creative musical practice: a new perspective on Luigi Russolo's L'Arte Dei Rumori
In 1913, the Italian Futurist Luigi Russolo published a manifesto entitled “L’arte dei rumori” (The Art of Noises) thus laying the foundations for a musical revolution that he would definitively formulate in his homonymous and lesser-known book published in 1916. Russolo’s musical research had started with the purpose of replacing tuned sounds with a new sound material, the suono-rumore (noise-sound), that is, a noise that could be tuned and therefore used in a musical context. Starting from this premise, Russolo invented, built and patented a series of intonarumori (noise-tuners), i.e. mechanical instruments intended to practically fulfil this ambition by making real – that is, audible – the sound reality he had theorised. Nevertheless, if the project suggested in the 1913 manifesto was to create a new kind of music with new instruments, the 1916 book registered the failure of this project and proposed something very different: a music made of noises that could only be heard by assuming a new listening attitude. Showing how Russolo’s musical perspective changed over three years, this dissertation will point toward a re-reading of the 1916 book considering it no longer as a compendium of an artist who felt the need to be recognised by his Futurist colleagues, but rather as the written translation of a crisis, above all human, whose effects are identifiable not only on Russolo’s artistic career, but also, albeit indirectly, on all the reflections on the concept of music and art that developed in the following decades.