One thousand hear change of note in world's longest concert

6th July 2008, Comments 0 comments

Bizarre piece set to last 639 years continues

Halberstadt -- More than 1,000 music lovers showed up on Saturday in a German town to hear a change of note in the longest-running and slowest piece of music ever composed.

Eccentric US composer John Cage (1912-1992) planned it to last 639 years, meaning more than a dozen generations of musicians will be needed to play it on an automatic, currently unfinished organ in the open air at Halberstadt, Germany.

Entitled ORGAN2/ASLSP, it began in 2001 and has so far reached its sixth note. The second part of the name means "as slow as possible."

Neighbours have got used to the monotonous tone coming out of the former Church of St. Burchard, which was used as a pig sty in the communist years of East Germany. At first the all day and night tone sounded something like an air raid siren.

The audience became quiet on Saturday as two more organ pipes were added alongside the four installed so far and the tone became more complex at 3.33 pm local time. The second of the new pipes is set to kick in this November. A machine keeps the sound coming out.

Since some notes will not be needed for decades, pipes need only be added when donations suffice.

Organisers in Halberstadt rejected questions about what it all means. "It doesn't mean anything. It's just there," one said.

Other works by avante-garde composer Cage include one piece that consists of four minutes and 33 seconds of silence, nothing else.


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