Image: Street advert in Hoxton, London, displaying real-time decibel level. March 2008.

“Let us cross a great modern capital with our ears more alert than our eyes, and we will get enjoyment from distinguishing the eddying of water, air and gas in metal pipes, the grumbling of noises that breathe and pulse with indisputable animality, the palpitation of valves, the coming and going of pistons, the howl of mechanical saws, the jolting of a tram on its rails, the cracking of whips, the flapping of curtains and flags. We enjoy creating mental orchestrations of the crashing down of metal shop blinds, slamming doors, the hubbub and shuffling of crowds, the variety of din, from stations, railways, iron foundries, spinning wheels, printing works, electric power stations and underground railways.”

Luigi Russolo excerpt from “L’arte dei Rumori” 1913

Russolo’s eulogy to the sonic city was inspired by the urban clamour of turn of the century Milan.  “L’arte dei Rumori” betrays a fascination with novelty of noise, the signature of modernity and the promise of the future in the form of the industrial city. Russolo argued that music has reached a point where it can longer excite when pitted against the real world sonic complexity of new metropolis. In turn, this statement led to the formation of a new type of music based on machine inspired atonality and stochastic composition.

Read the rest of this entry »