Longplayer – the One Thousand Year Long Musical Composition

Longplayer – the One Thousand Year Long Musical Composition

Jem Finer

Photo of composer Jem Finer by Atherton-Chiellino. Source: boingboing.net

It’s been 15 years since Longplayer began playing at the historic lighthouse Trinity Buoy Wharf, London, and it isn’t expected to end anytime soon. If all goes as planned the audio performance piece will continue without repetition until December 31, 2999. On that date Longplayer, which is performed by computers, will complete its cycle and begin again.

Although it is based on an existing piece of music just 20 minutes and 20 seconds in length, Longplayer gathers its length from the use of a simple algorithm to ensure it never repeats a single bar of music over its 1,000-year performance.

While it is a pleasant musical composition created with the help of Tibetan bowls, Longplayer isn’t just about music. Conceived and composed by Jem Finer, the piece wasn’t released accidentally on January, 2000, at the beginning of a new millennium.  Through this piece the artist wanted to give a sense to the passage of 1000 years. Therefore from its initial conception one objective has been to find alternative methods of performance outside the digital realm to ensure that the project will survive across generations. Mechanical, non-electrical and human-operated versions were taken into account for this purpose.

The first steps into the world of physical performance were taken in 2009 when a fragment of the enormous continuum was first performed on a giant instrument comprised of 234 singing bowls at The Roundhouse, London.


Katie Zahel
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