Luigi Russolo and a Dystopian Vision

I love connections, so what links the following:

Autoritratto con teschi, 1908

Luigi Russolo, Yevgeny Zamyatin and John Cage?

Reading Electronic Sound, I was interested to see how John Cage predicted the future of music. Cage said, in 1937, “I believe that the use of noise to make music will continue and increase unti we reach a music produced through the aid of electrical instruments”. The article linked Cage’s theories to Luigi Russolo’s ‘The Art of Noises’ manifesto from 1913 which linked to with the Futurists at that time.  Russolo foresaw a time when automation would be at the forefront of music when he said, “This is why we get infinitely more pleasure imagining combinations of the sounds of trolleys, autos and other vehicles, and loud crowds, than listening once more, for instance, to the heroic or pastoral symphonies.”  Russolo invented his own musical machine to produce ‘Classic Industrial Noise Experimental Music’:

Russolo was also an artist and his work has a vibrant quality to it that allows us to visualise the impact that industry and technology was having on us at that time. The paintings draw on sound waves to demonstrate movement and this gives the paintings an ethereal quality that is sometimes lacking in other futurist works:

Dynamism of a Car 1912-1913


La Rivolta, 1911
Solidity of Fog

There was one other connection and that was to the Russian writer Yevgeny Zamyatin. In 1921, he wrote a dystopian novel, We, set in the 26th century where he explores the way in which humanity has been irradicated through technological supremacy.  The formation of ‘One-State’ is designed to create happiness based around mathematical formulae to solve the problems of society.  Where the links with Russolo and Cage occurs is the moment we find out how music is to be produced in One-State: “The phono-lecturer began the description of the recently invented musicometer. “… By merely rotating this handle anyone is enabled to produce about three sonatas per hour. What difficulties our predecessors had in making music! They were able to compose only by bringing themselves to attacks of inspiration, an extinct form of epilepsy.”
Yevgeny Zamyatin, We

And that is how we can link three men living out of time.