Symphony of Factory Sirens (7 November 1922) was a musical composition / sound installation / performance using the sounds of factories, machines, whistles, and sirens of all kinds performed in Baku, Azerbaijan, to celebrate the Fifth Anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution.
Symphony of Factory Sirens is significant because it was conceptualized as a sound performance, composed primarily for mechanical sounds, involving an entire city in its performance. It was not intended for broadcast.
Symphony of Factory Sirens was conceived by Arseny Mikhaylovich Avraamov (1886-1944), Russian avant garde composer and music theorist. Intended as a performance, the largest and most ambitious concert was held on 7 November 1922 in the harbor of Baku, in Azerbaijan. Avraamov included two artillery batteries in this performance, along with twenty-five steam locomotives, several full infantry regiments, a worker's choir with thousands of singers, and several self-built portable "steam whistle machines." He directed the symphony from a tower using signal flags. Explicit instructions, published in three newspapers the day before the performance, outlined a city-wide installation / performance. Spectators were not encouraged. Instead, everyone was to participate in the singing, marching, or noise making.
Avrramov encouraged the creation of proletarian art and literature following the 1917 Russian revolution which overthrew the Tsar (Emperor) and led to the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1922. Inspired by a celebration of music and sirens from factories and ships he witnessed in Petrograd, Russia, in 1918, Avraamov conceived an annual musical composition using the sounds of factories, machines, whistles, and sirens of all kinds to celebrate the revolution's anniversary. He directed large celebrations in Nizhny Novgorov (1919) and Rostov (1921). Symphony of Sirens was performed in Baku (1922) and Moscow (1923).
As performed in Baku, Symphony for Factory Sirens utilized large choirs (joined by spectators), the foghorns from the entire Russian flotilla on the Caspian Sea, two batteries of artillery guns, full regiments of infantry, hydroplanes, and all the factory sirens in Baku. "'Conductors' possted on specially built towers signaled various sound units with colored flags and pistol shots. A central 'steam-whistle machine' pounded out 'The Internationale' and 'La Marseillaise' as noisy transports (half-tracks) raced across Baku for a gigantic sound finale in the festival square. Villages far beyond the wall of Baku could hear the revolutionary melodies of Avraamov's percussive concert" (Gordon, Mel. "Songs from the Museum of the Future." Wireless Imagination: Sound, Radio, and the Avant-Garde, edited by Douglas Kahn and Gregory Whitehead, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1992, p. 220).
The Baku event program include these and other notes. . .
"[Part 1. "Anxiety". On the first salyutnomu fired from a raid (about 12) come with an alarming toll Zyh, White City, and Bibi-Eybat Bailov.
Upon entering the fifth gun rings Tovaroupravleniya Aznefti and docks.
On the 10th I-II-III and I-Group plants Chernogorodskogo area.
On the 15 th-1 st group Black sirens and the city fleet. At the same time, the fourth company armavirskih komkursov, predvoditelstvuemaya combined duhovym Varshavyankoy "with the orchestra, goes to the wharf.
At the 18 th gun factories come gorrayona and seaplanes take off.
At the 20 th-blast railway depot at railway stations and the remaining locomotives. Machine guns, infantry and steam Orchestra, which come at the same time, receive signals directly from dirizherskoy tower . . .
Over the last five rounds anxiety reaches a peak and ends with the 25th gun. Pause. Call (signal with highway).
[Part II. "Boy". Triple chord siren. Declining seaplanes. "Hooray" to the wharf. Performing with the signal line. "International" (4 times).
The second polustrofe enters connected with the brass band "La Marseillaise."
In repeating (opening) melodies "Zonta" chorus enters entire area [...] and sings all three stanza to finish. At the end of last stanza returned armavirtsy with orchestras, "Hooray encountered response" from the area. In all the time of execution "Zonta" rings factory district, station (depots and locomotives) are silent.
[Part III. Apofeoz "victory". At the end, provide a general solemn chord, accompanied by bursts and the bell ringing for 3 minutes. Ceremonial march. "International" is repeated twice more on the signals during the final march. After the third (last) performance of the signal siren again all the common chord Gudkov Baku and districts (15)" (Martin John Callanan, Sonification of You, Arseny (Arsenij) Mikhailovich Avraamov).
Symphony of Factory Sirens was produced for performance, never broadcast. The version offered here was created in 2003 by Leopoldo Amigo and Miguel Molina Alarcón from Avraamov's notes and instructions and performed on computers by the research group Intermediate Laboratory Creations (LCI) of the Polytechnic University of Valencia .
Amigo, Alarcón, and LCI also recreated many more examples of unrecorded or lost futurist music / sounds from around the world. These works were included in a CD-book combination Del Mono Azul al Cuello Blanco: Transformación social y práctica artística en la era postindustrial: Exposición [Blue Collar White Monkey: Social Transformation and Artistic Practice in the Postindustrial Era: Exhibition], with documentation by Alarcón (Generalitat Valenciana, 2003) , the 2-CD Ruidos y Susurros de las Vanguardias [Noises and Whispers inAlarcón Avant Gardes] (UPV-Allegro Records, 2004) , and the 2-CD Baku: Symphony of Sirens. Sound Experiments in the Soviet AvantGarde: Original Documents and Reconstructions of 72 Key Works of Music, Poetry and Agitprop from the Russian Avantgardes (1910-1942) (London: Rer Megacorp, 2008) accompanied by a 72 page book by Alarcón .
 Sound Experiments in The Russian Avant-Garde (1908-1942) provides access to the aural contents of Baku: Symphony of Sirens. Sound Experiments in the Soviet AvantGarde: Original Documents and Reconstructions of 72 Key Works of Music, Poetry and Agitprop from the Russian Avantgardes (1910-1942). Listen online or download the audio files. Listen also to Episode 79: Symphony of Sirens, Revisited from 99% Invisible, a "Tiny Radio Show about Design," by Roman Mars.
 Del Mono Azul al Cuello Blanco: Transformación social y práctica artística en la era postindustrial: Exposición [Blue Collar White Monkey: Social Transformation and Artistic Practice in the Postindustrial Era: Exhibition] (Generalitat Valenciana, 2003) Excerpts from this book and samples from the accompanying CD.
 Ruidos y Susurros de las Vanguardias [Noises and Whispers in Avant Gardes] (UPV-Allegro Records, 2004)
Description of contents (in English; in Catalonian here) of this 2-CD collection of international futurist music and sound. Read online or download in .PDF format.
 Baku: Symphony of Sirens. Sound Experiments in the Soviet AvantGarde: Original Documents and Reconstructions of 72 Key Works of Music, Poetry and Agitprop from the Russian Avantgardes (1910-1942) (London: Rer Megacorp, 2008) accompanied by a 72 page book by Miguel Molina Alarcón. This web resource provides extensive information about each work in the collection as well as the opportunity to read the book online or download it in .PDF format.
The Harbour Symphony has been a signature event at the biannual Sound Symposium in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, since 1983. Conceived by Newfoundland architect Joe Carter, the symphony utilizes a score for the horns of ships gathered in the harbour. The first symphony was composed by Paul Steffler. The natural bowl shape of the St. John's harbor, with its surrounding hills, creates echoes throughout this 500-year-old seaport. The Harbour Symphony is an interesting listening experience, especially from atop Signal Hill. In addition to the sample provided on the Harbour Symphony webpage, several other listening opportunities are available on the YouTube website.