Sunday, December 16, 2007

Longplayer - Longest Song (been playing for 8 years and has 992 more to go)

Longplayer is a piece of music that is designed to last for one thousand years. It started to play on the 1st January 2000 and if all goes to plan will continue without repetition until 31st December 2999, at which point it will restart at the beginning.

Longplayer is based on an existing piece of music, 20 minutes and 20 seconds in length, which is processed by computer using a simple algorithm. This gives a large number of variations, which, when played consecutively, gives a total runtime of 1000 years.

It's exactly the same principle as taking six copies of a record and playing them on six turntables, each one rotating at a different speed.

To explain the "score" that creates this 1000 year loop of music it's helpful to use the record analogy. Every two minutes the needles are placed on the record and allowed to play for the next two minutes. After this period the needles are picked up and placed on the record again - but this time slightly further in from their previous startpoint.

If one goes back to the moment that Longplayer began, each needle was at the start of each record - at zero seconds. After the first two-minute period each needle was picked up and put down again at zero seconds plus a small amount. For each turntable this incremental amount is both different and unique. For the whole of Longplayer's duration these amounts never change.

The original music was composed by Jem Finer, who was also one of the founding members of the group The Pogues. It uses Tibetan singing bowls and gongs, which are able to create a range of sounds by either striking or rolling pieces of wood around the rims. This source music was recorded in December 1999.

Longplayer could be heard in the relaxation zone of the Millennium Dome in London during its year of opening in 2000. It can now be heard via an Internet stream.

At the time of this post, Longplayer has been playing for 2907 days, 11 hours and 2 minutes.

In its present and original incarnation, as a computer program, it’s been playing since it began in the lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf, London E14. It’s also playing in the planetarium at the Bibliotheca Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt, the Powerhouse, Brisbane, Australia and in Rufford Park, near Nottingham, England. Plans are in an advanced stage for other listening posts around the world.

Longplayer can also be heard globally via a live stream on the Internet.
MP3 stream :
Macintosh & Windows

Visit for more info.

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