Sunday, 23 July 2017

Intonarumori 2

It's now my intention to build four intonarumoris to create a sort of 'classical quartet' or the classic four piece rock band line up. Where intonarumoris have been reproduced recently they have always been used in a controlled classical stage or museum setting. I think it would be interesting to take them out of this context and put them in the hands of contemporary musicians.
Having learned a lot from my experience of building an intonarumori, my making skills are finely tuned. I've now built a smaller (lead higher pitched) intonarumori. Here I have tried to follow Russolo drawing for the patent for the  Intonatore dei rumori. I looked to reproduce the exact proportions in my measurements. The main difference between this intonarumori and my first construction (Apart from the size) is the slider running along two rails higher in the middle of the intonarumori.

 You can see the rail here.
 The only change I made from the plan was not to run the string around a higher dowel labelled 'F' on Russolo's drawing, as I felt this would have over tighten the string and damaged the membrane when the lever is pulled back.

You can see the empty hole where there should be a dowel.
You'll note that the wheel I'm using here is a lot smaller. In Luciano Chessa's book he shows on page 179 which is opposite the above patent drawing, another Russolo's drawing for the patent for Descrizione della prima aggiunta al brevetto depositato l'8/10/1921. This intonarumori is similar in design but has a telescopic sound box but, shows the small wheel which I have chosen to use. I'm still not happy with the sound and intend to experiment with different strings, sizes of wheel and finishes to the wheel.
I need to mention Luciano Chessa's book. Luigi Russolo, Futurist. Noise, visual arts, and the occult. This is a truly remarkable book. It hadn't been published at the start of my intonarumori construction journey but is proving to be a fantastic resource. I'll talk about this book later at greater length.

Intonarumori tweaks and a performance

Here's a shot of me playing at Milton Keynes Galleries Improvised music scratch nights on the 23rd of February. Also in the frame is John Saunders on electronics and Richard Powell on Sax. I had damaged the membrane earlier in the day fixing a new string in so the intonarumori's sound was rather harsh. After two hours of performance the membrane gave way and the handle fell off again!!

 I'm now looking at how I can make the intonarumori more robust and improve it's sound. I noticed I had the string too high up and at an angle to the turning rod. As a result the wheel wasn't touching obliquely. This could make a difference. In Russolo's patent drawing he shows the string being parallel to the wheel turning rod.

The sliding bridge will have to be much lower. I may also have to lower the lever axle. Finally I've bought a length of 12mm aluminum rod and bar for the axle and handle to try and solve the disassembly problem.



 I've also added some speaker cabinet corners and straps.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Return to the Intonarumori, five years later!

Having retired from teaching I've now got time to return to my intonarumori to finish it properly and give a performance. I was unhappy with the black plastic bucket. It didn't look right and would lead people to describe it as 'That thing with the bucket on'. Beside a metal horn would resonate better. For this I bought two sheets of galvanized steel 0.5mm thick from a local building supplies firm. This could be cut using tin snips.
I had to improvise a compass to mark out a half circle for the cone and remember Pythagoras.
Some serious use of a pop rivet gun now had to take place.

This is looks better. The riveting was very difficult. I may look to redoing it.
Oh and here's me giving the intonarumoris first performance at an Improvised experimental music workshop in Northampton. The venue was very dark and the visual recordings  made were not good so I will look to a future performance to post. However here's a sound recording which features Richard Powell on sax. John Luccibello, keyboard. Anthony Sauchella  gongs –his descriptor for himself is sacred sound improvisation artist. Lee Boyd Allatson –drums. Many thanks to these guys for letting me join in. The intonarumori is making a sort of ump pah drone sound in the background.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Intonarumori nearly finished

Here's my finished Intonarumori. OK I've still got to varnish and tidy it up.

 Here's a close up of a small brass pulley wheel I put on the sliding mechanism this improved the performance.
 I also put a smaller pulley on the lever arm this again improved its working my not tightening the string when it was drawn back. This was happening before and making the sliding bridge not move smoothly.
 Finally I added and alternative spinning disc which plucks the string.
Here's it in action,
I'd still like to improve the tone it doesn't have the nice rasp that Jonnda's has. I will try his recommendation of using cello resin on my smooth disc.

I now hope my sons will try it out at one of their Circuit Breaker gigs.

Well it took me nearly 6 years to finish this project. I must now turn my attention to the Laurie Anderson Violin I was making.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Return to the Intonarumori Tuesday 10th April 2012

Gosh it's been over 8 months since I've worked on this. I'm now determined to get it finished, but a few problems remain. Using a guitar machine head to tension the string seems to work well however a guitar bridge on the bridge does not. There is too much friction here when the bridge slides. I'm going to craft a small metal pulley instead which will turn. I'm also not sure about the tone a metal gauge 42 guitar string gives and the wood rubbing against this string. I will have to experiment here.
It may sound better when enclosed.
Here's a shot of the guitar machine head.
And here's the problematic guitar bridge on the slider.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011


I started making a Intonarumori some five years ago after seeing and playing on them in the Estorick art gallery London. I bought a book  from the art gallery on the Italian Futurist artist Luigi Russolo which had some photographs of the insides which I was looking to follow.

Luigi Russolo: Vita E Opere Di Un Futurista by Franco Tagliapietra

After having built the shell I stopped.

The inspiration. Intonarumori in the Estorick.

Heres a photograph of the inside mechanisms from the book

Today I've returned to making the Intonarumori and I've make quite a bit of progress. I had thought it was going to be quite difficult but once I started everything seemed to fall in to place.

I started making the lever/ slider and then went on to the spinning disc. All I need to do now is to attach the string, fix all the mechanism down permanently and then attach the other sides after having made holes for the levers and handles.

11 August 2011

Today I've temporarily fixed the lever/slider and rotating handle mechanisms to the base of the box and tested it. In doing so I've learnt a few more aspects about the design which will require my attention. At the moment I've got a smooth rotating head on my spinning device but my design will allow for different types of rotating devices to be put on, such as cogged wheels to make a 'plucking' sound. It does work however the electrical wire I was using as  a string snapped, so I intend to try a cello string and inlay a guitar bridge or nut on the sliding bridge mechanism which will improve the tone and 'slide'. Finally to keep the string taut there needs to be a  a guitar machine head (or similar) on end of the lever.

I've attached a plastic bucket. So it is starting to look like the real thing. I'll be returning to this project in September.