Curious Fact of the Week: The Slowest Song - Atlas Obscura
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Curious Fact of the Week: The Slowest Song

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Avant garde composer John Cage crafted some pretty glacial music, but an organ in Germany is stretching one of his pieces to 639 years. The Sankt Burchardi Church Organ in Halberstadt, Germany, started playing “As Slow As Possible” on September 5, 2001, and it will finish in 2640.

Cage composed the piece back in 1985, and after he passed away in 1992, some organists got the idea to create a tribute piece with “As Slow As Possible.” The piece was written with the idea that it could be as long as possible, and since organs can “live” as long as their parts are replaced, theoretically the piece could be played nonstop for the centuries of the instrument’s existence. 

article-imageThe “As Slow As Possible” organ (via John-Cage-Orgelprojekt Halberstadt)

The organ was built specifically for the performance, with only six pipes. Each chord can stretch for months to a year with the changes coming from adjustments of weights on different pedals. While this might seem like an epically long process, it’s actually not the longest piece of music in the world — there’s also the digital Longplayer going for 1,000 years. However, it’s definitely the longest and slowest of live, continuous instrumental performances, and if you can’t make it over to Germany to spend a moment with the organ’s centuries-long sound meditation, you can watch a clip below:

AS SLOW AS POSSIBLE: SANKT BURCHARDI CHURCH ORGAN, Halberstadt, Germany


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