Jem Finer - Longplayer
  Year :   2000
  Location :   England
  Worktype :   Installation
  Materials:   Supercollider
  Info :   Trinity Buoy Wharf, London E14,Bibliotheca Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt,Powerhouse, Brisbane, Australia,Rufford Park, near Nottingham, Englandlans are in an advanced stage for other listening posts around the world.

  Work Details  
  Longplayer is a 1000 year long piece of music which started to play on the 1st January 2000 and will continue to play, without repetition, until the 31st December 2999, when it will come back to the point at which it began - and begin again. In its present and original incarnation, as a computer program, itís been playing since it began in the lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf, London E14. Itís 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. Development Longplayer was developed and composed between October 1995 and December 1999 by Jem Finer with the support of Artangel. A full account of this period can be found in the book, Longplayer, published by Artangel. Click here for a brief diagramatic overview. Underlying Principles Longplayer takes an existing recorded piece of music and uses this as source material, simultaneously playing 6 sections taken from it, each at a slightly different position and each at a different pitch. Its 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 its 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 Longplayers duration these amounts never change. This system can be expressed by the following equation: Play from position (at time t) for 2 minutes, where: position (at time t) = position (at time t - 1) + increment The increment, the amount each needle is moved on from its previous start point, is different for each turntable whilst t represents each two-minute period. How the music is generated Every two minutes this procedure is repeated and in this way each two-minute section gradually moves through the entire duration of the source music. The increments are carefully worked out so that no combination of the six sections will ever be repeated until exactly 1000 years has elapsed - at which point their start points will all be back at zero seconds, at the point where the piece first started. There is one area in which the record analogy doesn t quite work: with a record the music plays in a straight line: when you get to the end, the needle has to be picked up and put back at the beginning. Longplayerís source music is actually a closed loop itself - its end is its beginning and vice versa. This means that when a section starts less than two minutes from the end, it plays across the start/end point and so the passage of each section through the music is in a continuous circle, never suddenly jumping back to the beginning. Taken together the six sections circle through the music like planets around the sun, each at their own speed, only very occasionally being arrayed in a straight line (or in the case of the music, all having the same starting point). This idea of each section starting at the same point and moving at slightly different rates generates a huge amount of different combinations - from the 20 minutes and 20 seconds of the source recording 1000 years of music is generated in real time. At the time of writing Longplayer exists as a computer program, it s source music being held in RAM - but the principle is exactly the same. The Source Music The instrumentation in the source music is primarily Tibetan singing bowls of various sizes, and gongs. With an eye to the future it was important to start Longplayer using sounds, and rules about how and when these should be played, that could be realized in as many different ways as possible. To tie it to the computer, or any other technology, would be to limit its chances of survival. It was also important to find ways in which the minimum amount of information and material could combine to reproduce itself into ever new forms. The logical conclusion was to look for sounds that would in combination create new sounds, yet could be reproduced not only by a computer but could also be played mechanically. Tibetan singing bowls answer both these demands in a simple way. Following the abstraction that a sound can be broken down into a number of sine waves of different frequencies and amplitude, it follows that sounds can be built up by the same principle. The bowls then, when struck or forced to resonate by rolling a piece of wood around their rim, function like oscillators in a synthesizer, as do the gongs, creating a range of sounds far greater than their constituent parts. These properties are enhanced by the range of overtones produced by striking (or stroking) the bowls in different places - or by filling them slightly with water - and add an unpredictable element to what will be heard. The Future The original and abiding ambition for Longplayer was/is for it to exist globally on its own radio frequency. At present it is being streamed on the Internet. At the time of writing research has started into the translation of Longplayer from a computer program to a sustainable mechanical device/instrument designed to last for at least as long as the first complete performance of the music. The first prototype, designed and built by Norman Withers, is installed in the Lighthouse. A device based on the record player analogy above using six custom built extra large turntables is now in development. A score for six (human) players and 250 tibetan Singing Bowls now exists. This first version of Longplayer is written in the programming language, SuperCollider2. A version written in SuperCollider3 - for Mac OS X - is now running though still lacks an interface. The source music was recorded in London in December 1999. Longplayer Remix Project A number of musicians / artists have been given 10 minute segements of Longplayer to use as raw material in any way they wish. To date Scanner, Pierre Bastien, Janek Schaefer, The Deviationists, Emma Stow, Iris Garrelfs, Chris Abrahams and Lloyd Swanton(from The Necks) and Douglas Benford aka si-{cut}.db have finished their pieces and more are on their way. A cd will be released in late 2005 / early 2006. Janek Schaefer has released his piece - Short Work on a split lp with Christopher Flores (Snail Article). Though Short Work is less than a second long it s rendered infinite by cutting it as a locked groove. More info at (from Accessed 09-10-06