The Art of Noise

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The Art of Noise, for flute and percussion was commissioned by flutist Meerenai Shim as a piece she could perform in a variety of venues. Ms. Shim has been a major supporter of my music, having recorded Sometimes the City is Silent, for solo flute, on her first album of the same name, that was released in 2011, along with a wonderfully imaginative video, to go with the piece. Considering her interest in working with text and flute, I thought that it would be significant to use a text that also complemented her interest in progressive politics. I found a strong musical connection of the two in Luigi Russolo’s L’arte dei Rumori (The Art of Noises), written in 1913 as part of The Futurist Manifesto:

“…At first the art of music sought purity, limpidity and sweetness of sound. Then different sounds were amalgamated, care being taken, however, to caress the ear with gentle harmonies. Today music, as it becomes continually more complicated, strives to amalgamate the most dissonant, strange and harsh sounds. In this way we come ever closer to noise-sound.” (Translation, Barclay Brown)

I’ve taken words from the above text and put them in different languages to make a short poem:

dolce   pureté
compliqué   complicata
harsh   rau
L’arte dei rumori

The Art of Noise also includes an homage to Edgard Varèse through musical references to Ionisation, for multiple percussion; in writing this work Varèse also acknowledged the influence of Luigi Russolo.  I would like to thank the Ragdale Foundation for providing me with a residency in 2011 to work on this piece.”

– Janice Misurell-Mitchell