The Longplayer: A Non-Repeating Ambient Track Lasting 1000 Years


The Longplayer project is a non-repetitive music composition of Tibetan singing bowls that will last 1000 years.

It is generated by algorithms and played by a network of computers, created to outlive its creator. The Project is a composed musical piece that started playing on December 31st, 1999 at midnight and will keep playing without repeating until the end of the year 2999.

Revolutionizing the relationship with music

The Longplayer Project
The Longplayer Project

The project is certainly ambitious in that it explores how we can revolutionize our relationship with music.

The idea was Jem Finer’s, made as a response to the concerns of media creation. Finer, is a musician, composer and co- founder of Celtic punk band The Pogues. He believes that the way we consume and make music within such a short time frame is not sustainable.

Longplayer is available for the public to experience inside the 19th Century lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf in London.Visitors listen for as long as they wish and come and go as they please.

The creation of Longplayer

Testing his theory of the consumption of music, Finer proposed the creation of a work of music that would last for one thousand years without repetition.

Since the beginning of the project, the Longplayer evolved considerably. However, its core purpose remains the same, to create a non-duplicated musical work that can be played continually for generations.

As such, the Longplayer project is significant because it represents a new way of thinking about music and its place in our lives.

How the Longplayer works

Longplayer Plans
Longplayer Plans

The music produced by the Longplayer is a twenty-minute and twenty-second existing piece of music that serves as the groundwork. This is then processed by a computer using a straightforward algorithm. The result in a diverse ambient sound.

The music is produced by six software processes, each of which plays a unique but defined role within the whole development. The first four create what might be called the backbone of the musical piece. They set its tempo, tonality, melodic shape, and overall form.

The fifth process introduces variability into these otherwise quite predictable elements. Finally, the sixth process connects everything together, mixing the various parts and ensuring that no two moments are exactly alike.

Exploring the potential of computer-based generative music

The music is written and produced in such a way that it can be played continuously, without repeats, for the entire duration. This means that the piece must be made up of many sections that flow seamlessly. Thus,creating an extremely long journey through the music.

It explores the potential of computer-based generative music while celebrating the beauty of imperfection and change. The music is contemplative and thought-provoking. It is meant to raise questions about time, mortality, and what it means to create something lasting.

New approaches to music composition and performance

A birds eye view
A birds eye view

The team behind the project has been hard at work on developing new approaches and technologies to the way that music is composed. It challenges the idea of how we watch live performances.

One of the key technical aspects of the Longplayer project is the development of new software for composing and performing music. The software is designed to generate musical notes which are in harmony with each other.

It is constructed using Tibetan Singing Bowls that can play the composition. These instruments are made from materials that will not degrade quickly over time, such as ceramic and bronze.

The Sound of the Longplayer

The Longplayer harnesses Tibetan singing bowls that allow for human input so that musicians and performers can interact and create with the music as it unfolds over time. The sound of the singing bowls emits different tones that cause distinct sounds and vibrations around the body.

The binaural beats that are produced help to stimulate calm brain waves and putting the body in a meditative and relaxed state in turn aiding in stress relief.

Longplayer Project, far-reaching and profound

By creating such an epic musical composition, the project will stand as a testimony to the endurance of music. The Longplayer Project highlights the important role that technology can play in preserving and disseminating culture. And it will no doubt inspire future generations.

Images courtesy: Cormac Heron and Longplayer

Written by The Hinky

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