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Reaching into the future: Longplayer

Feature

As part of Time Unwrapped, we have set up a listening post in the foyer of Kings Place for Longplayer, a 1000-year-long piece of music, now in its eighteenth year. Look out, too, for Longplayer events exploring the future in February and April this year.

Longplayer is a 1000 year-long piece of music. Composed by Jem Finer, it began playing on the 31st December 1999, and will continue, without repetition, until the last moments of 2999, when it will return to the point at which it first began. . .

Longplayer is composed through the action of an algorithmic process on six 20 minute-long pieces of music played on singing bowls (the source music). The composition mirrors a planetary system, six musical events whose orbits come into phase once every millennium: the score is a helpful illustration of this – the yellow sections represent the ‘6 musical events’ playing at any one time and the circles the six pieces of source music.

 

You can find a full explanation of the score’s workings on the tablets on the listening table in the foyer of Kings Place, along with other information about Longplayer and associated events or visit longplayer.org.

Longplayer can be heard in physical space, at the lighthouse, Trinity Buoy Wharf, London, and at listening posts worldwide.

At present, it is performed predominantly by computers (as in the listening posts) and iPhones / iPads through an iOS app.

Implicit in Longplayer’s composition is that it can be played by any known (or as yet unknown) means. It is crucial, in composing for such a duration, that the music is not tied to any single technology.

To date there have been several live performances of Longplayer: 1000 minute performances for musicians and singing bowls at the Roundhouse, London (2009) and the Yerba Buena Centre, San Francisco (2010) and in 2015 a performance using 12 record players and 12 bespoke records of sections of the source music. Currently in the planning stages is a vocal performance of Longplayer for 500 singers.

Longplayer seeks to inspire investment in the long-term and to remind our audience that human agency, be it singular or collective, extends beyond the duration of a lifetime. It invites people to dream and act with the future in mind. Events like the ones to be held at Kings Place enable us to create a platform for fascinating, interdisciplinary discussion about shared times ahead.

Longplayer was originally commissioned by Artangel and is now in the care of the Longplayer Trust, established in 2001.

Longplayer Events

Fri 9 Feb

Longplayer: Music and the Future

Sun 29 Apr

The Longplayer Relay

Longplayer official website
Longplayer Twitter

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