Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: What’s the Longest Song in History?

November 15, 2015

Drawn to Music | UncommonGoods

Longplayer, an epic musical composition and A.I. project initiated by Jem Finer (of Pogues fame) has been playing for less than two percent of its intended duration. Designed to last a millennium without repetition, Longplayer is barely getting warmed up as it approaches the fifteen-year mark of its sonic lifespan. To put that in perspective, the longest Pink Floyd track is about 25 minutes (“Shine On You Crazy Diamond”), and Wagner’s Ring cycle clocks in at over 16 hours. But these compositions are mere blips compared to Longplayer’s thousand-year run. If you spent your entire life listening to the meditative tones of Longplayer (and who has the time?), you couldn’t hope to hear more than ten percent of the evolving composition. But regardless of how long you can listen, the piece offers a sensory analog to the expansiveness of time and the difficulty that the human lifespan poses to our perception of much beyond “the now.” In an age of music by instant-gratification download, Longplayer serves as a contemplative antidote to the impatient listening encouraged by MP3s or streaming audio.

Drawn to Music | $20

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