Infobox instrument
name =Intonarumori
names =

image_capt = Russolo with his assistant Ugo Piatti and their Intonarumori
classification = String
range = Varied
related =
musicians = Luigi Russolo
builders = Luigi Russolo
articles = Musica Futurista

The Intonarumori (noise intoners) were a family of musical instruments invented in 1913 by Italian Futurist painter and musical composer Luigi Russolo. They were devices for producing a broad spectrum of modulated, rhythmic sounds similar to those made by machines, but without imitating or reproducing them. Unfortunately, none of the original intonarumori survived World War II.


schematic drawing] Although there were several varieties of intonarumori, they each were created with the same basic structure. Each instrument was constructed of a parallelepiped wooden sound box with a metal radiating horn on its front side. Inside the box was a wheel that, when turned by means of a crank or electric button, caused a catgut or metal string to vibrate. The wheel could be made of either metal or wood, and the shape and diameter of the wheel varied depending on the model. At one end of the string there was a drumhead that transmits the vibrations to the speaker. The pitch of the vibrating string was controlled by both the speed that the wheel was cranked and by the tension of the string, which was controlled by a lever on top of the box. The lever allowed the performer to play glissandos or specific notes, and also allowed the performer to change the pitch by small intervals. The intonarumori often had a range of more than an octave. [ Citation| first= Stefania | last=Serafin| coauthors=| contribution=Acoustics of the Intonarumori| title=ASA/CAA| editor-first=| editor-last=| coeditors=| publisher=| place=Vancouver, Canada| pages=| date=2005-05-17| year=| id= | contribution-url=| format=| accessdate=2008-01-15 ]

Russolo created twenty-seven varieties of intonarumori, each with a different name according to the sound produced. Examples include [ Citation| first=Stefania | last=Serafin| coauthors=Amalia de Gotzen, Niels Bottcher, Steven Gelineck| contribution=Synthesis and control of everyday sounds reconstructing Russolo's Intonarumori| title=2006 International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression| editor-first=| editor-last=| coeditors=| publisher=| place=Paris, France| pages=240-245| date=| year=2006| id= | contribution-url=| format=PDF| accessdate=2008-01-14 ] :
*"Gracidatore" (the Croaker)
*"Crepitatore" (the Cracker)
*"Stroppicciatore" (the Rubber)
*"Scoppiatore" (the Burster)
*"Sibilatore" (the Whistler)
*"Gorgogliatore" (the Gurgler)
*"Ululatore" (the Howler)
*"Ronzatore" (the Hummer)

The invention of the intonarumori was the natural outcome of Russolo's musical theories expounded in his 1913 manifesto L'arte dei rumori (The Art of Noises) in which he presented his ideas about the use of noises in music.

In 1914, Russolo explained his process on invention:cquote|It was necessary for practical reasons that the noise Intoners be as simple as possible....and this we succeeded in doing. It is enough to say that a single stretched diaphragm placed in the right position gives, when tension is varied, a scale of more than ten notes, complete with all the passages of semitones, quarter tones and even the tiniest fractions of tones.The preparation of the material for these diaphragms is carried out with special chemical baths and varies according to the timbre required. By varying the way in which the diaphragm is moved, further types of timbres of noise can be obtained while retaining the possibility of varying the tone. [cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Electronic Musical Instruments 1870 - 1990: The "Intonorumori" (1913), "Rumorarmonio" (1922), and the "Enharmonic Piano" (1931) | date= | publisher= | url = | work 120 Years of Electronic Music | pages = | accessdate = 2008-01-14 | language = ]

Performance and Reception

The first public performance of the intonarumori took place in 1913 at Modena's Teatro Storchi, where Russolo performed a "detonatore", or "exploder". In 1914 Russolo and gave 12 performances of the Intonorumori at the London Coliseum, as well as performances at the Teatro Storchi in Modena, the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan, and the Teatro Politeama in Genoa. The performances were controversial but on the whole well received, and it was reported that 30,000 people had witnessed the "music of the future". [ cite web|url= |title=TheraminVox - Intonarumori |accessdate=2008-01-15 |last=Saggini |first=Valerio |date=2004-02-21 |work=TheraminVox: Art, Technology, and Gesture ]

Russolo's musical experimentation was interrupted by the outbreak of the first world war in 1914. Russolo sustained serious head injuries during the war and, after a long convalescence, fled fascist Italy and resettled in Paris, where he continued to develop his noise machines. He presented three concerts in Paris at the Théatre des Champs-Elysées and, in 1922, participated in Filippo Tommaso Marinetti's play "Il tamburo di fuoco" with some musical backgrounds made with the intonarumori. His concerts during the 1920s still caused fierce controversy, but also impressed several outstanding composers such as Milhaud, Ravel, Honegger, and avant-garde composer Edgard Varèse. [ cite web|url= |title=TheraminVox - Intonarumori |accessdate=2008-01-15 |last=Saggini |first=Valerio |date=2004-02-21 |work=TheraminVox: Art, Technology, and Gesture ]

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the Italian poet and Futurist movement founder, described the experience of performing with the Intonarumori before an audience as "showing the first steam engine to a herd of cows." [cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Electronic Musical Instruments 1870 - 1990: The "Intonorumori" (1913), "Rumorarmonio" (1922), and the "Enharmonic Piano" (1931) | date= | publisher= | url = | work 120 Years of Electronic Music | pages = | accessdate = 2008-01-14 | language = ]

Musical Notation

Russolo expanded the ideas from The Art of Noises in an 1914 article entitled "Grafia enarmonica per gli intonarumori futuristi" (Enharmonic Notation for the Futurist Intonarumori). Published in "Lacerba" magazine, this essay introduced a new type of musical notation which is still used among electronic music composers today. [ cite web|url= |title=TheraminVox - Intonarumori |accessdate=2008-01-15 |last=Saggini |first=Valerio |date=2004-02-21 |work=TheraminVox: Art, Technology, and Gesture ]


* [ Three audio clips by Luigi Russolo: "Serenata", "Corale" and "Risveglio di una città". (]
*Modern recordings of noise intoners and a fragment of Luigi Russolo's key Futurist composition "Veglio di una città (The Awakening of a City)" can be heard on the audio CD [ "Musica Futurista: The Art of Noises".]
* [ UbuWeb Dada for Now, 1985, UK] featuring Russolo's "Veglio di una città".

ee also

* Musica Futurista
* custom-made instruments
* list of custom-made instrument builders
* Intonarumori (band)

Notes and references

External links

* [ "Intonarumori": history, working and photographs of the Intonarumori (noise makers). (]
* [ Modern Intonarumori reproductions and acoustics]
* [ Intonarumori]
* [ UbuWeb Dada for Now, 1985, UK] featuring Russolo's "Veglio di una città".
* [ The Futurist Moment: Howlers, Exploders, Crumplers, Hissers, and Scrapers] by Kenneth Goldsmith

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