Jem Finer: Longplayer

The composition is generated by an algorithmic score, conceived and composed by Jem Finer, which chooses and combines six sections of six short pieces of music in such a way that no combination is repeated until exactly one thousand years has passed.

Jem Finer originally trained as a computer scientist and musician before establishing a highly respected art practice, in which he continues to push the boundaries of visual and sonic composition aligned to the world around us, from a raindrop falling to the passing of a millennium.

While the version playing at YSP is being performed by a computer, creating the music from instant-to-instant, Longplayer is composed in such a way that it can be played using any known – or as yet unknown – technology, a necessity given its duration and the uncertain future.

To date it has also been played live by an ensemble of musicians in both London and San Francisco and performed using 12 specially pressed records and 12 record decks. A version for 500 voices was performed in 2018.

This project is rooted in the idea of time – as it is experienced and as it is understood from the perspectives of philosophy, physics and cosmology. It gives insight into the unfathomable expanses of geological and cosmological time, in which a human lifetime is reduced to no more than a blip.

Longplayer was originally produced as an Artangel Commission and is now in the care of the Longplayer Trust.