This Is the Song That Never Ends

Friday August 09, 2019 Written by James

longplayer top

Nineteen years, 217 days, 15 hours and 14 minutes ago, a particular song started playing in London. It’s still going right now. The song is called 'Longplayer', an algorithmic piece of music that will keep going, without repetition or chorus breaks, for the next 1000 years.  

Longplayer was an experiment from British composer and musician Jem Finer (one of the founding members of The Pogues). Finer wanted to see if self-generating computer programs could be applied to music, so he composed a twenty-minute piece using Tibetan singing bowls, gongs and other whhrooar-whhrooar-type instruments, then fed the cacophonous resonance through an algorithm. 'Longplayer' is what came out.

Considering it’s 1000 years in length, no one human will ever be able to comprehend 'Longplayer' in its entirety. But you can catch snippets all over the place. 'Longplayer' was blasted through London’s Millenium Dome when it opened in 2000. In 2009, a group of musicians, working in shifts, played 'Longplayer' for 1000 continuous minutes. And anyone can jump on the 'Longplayer' website to hear what the song is currently doing. There’s even a free, 12-day Longplayer Festival held in London each year.

You might ask, what’s the point? Well, at least you’ve got your next road-trip playlist sorted.