This introductory chapter sets out the book's main premise, that the theosophical phase of Russolo's late period—what is often considered his regressive change of direction—was linked to his longtime interest in the occult arts. This interest is already evident in Russolo's formative years and, more important, it profoundly influenced what was possibly his most significant futurist achievement: the concept of an art of noises. The focus is on Russolo's first phase of futurist musical activity: from 1913, the year of his Manifesto on the Art of Noises, to 1921. The two principal contributions of the book are a reconsideration of Russolo's musical career in the light of his occultist interests and an alternative reading of the art of noises, which he and his contemporaries understood to be an ambitious, if occult, experiment.
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