Accomplishments and Records

Listen to the Song that Takes 639 Years to Play

A note change on September 5, 2020. This change is Impulse #15. Note the fact that the conductor’s beard is white; it is unclear whether it was in this condition when he started conducting this piece.

UPDATED ON MAY 6, 2021

The longest musical performance in history is currently taking place in the church of St. Burchardi in Halberstadt, Germany. The performance of John Cage’s “Organ²/ASLSP (As Slow As Possible)” started on Sept. 5, 2001, and is set to finish in 2640.

The first part of the song lacks a little in the area of excitement. It began on September 5, 2001, and for the next 518 days, it consisted of silence. The first notes weren’t struck until February 5, 2003, when the notes G♯4, B4, G♯5 were formed as a chord that held, continuously, for the next 518 days.

As of this writing, May 6, 2021, the song has been playing for 19 years, 8 months, and one day. In that time, there have been 15 note changes. This averages out to one every 479 days. As scheduled to be played, however, the duration between note changes can be as long as 2,527 days or as mind-blowingly-brief as 30 days.

The scheduled note changes for Part 1 of the composition follow. For some reason, only the first 70 years of the 639-year song are listed. Perhaps they were unable to rent the church that holds the organ beyond that date.

ImpulseActionNotesDateLength
1Beginnone9/5/2001 518 days
2SoundG♯4, B4, G♯52/5/2003516 days
3SoundE3, E47/5/2004365 days
4ReleaseG♯4, B47/5/2005184 days
5SoundA4, C5, F♯51/5/2006120 days
6ReleaseE3, E45/5/2006792 days
7SoundC4, A♭47/5/2008123 days
8ReleaseC411/5/200892 days
9SoundD4, E52/9/2009515 days
10ReleaseE57/5/2010215 days
11ReleaseD4, G♯52/5/2011181 days
12Sound

Release
C4 (16′),
D♭4 (16′)
A♭4
8/5/2011335 days
13ReleaseA4, C5, F♯57/5/2012457 days
14SoundD♯4, A♯4, E510/5/20132,527 days
15SoundG♯3, E49/5/2020518 days
16ReleaseG♯32/5/2022730 days
17SoundD42/5/2024912 days
18SoundA48/5/2026426 days
19ReleaseE410/5/2027183 days
20SoundG34/5/2028122 days
21ReleaseD48/5/2028577 days
22ReleaseA43/5/2030184 days
23ReleaseD♯4, E59/5/2030973 days
24ReleaseG35/5/2033214 days
25SoundB312/5/2033243 days
26SoundF3, D48/5/203431 days
27ReleaseF3, D49/5/203430 days
28ReleaseB310/5/2034243 days
29SoundD♭56/5/2035823 days
30Sound
Release
A2 (16′)
D♭5
9/5/2037181 days
31SoundA♭4, A♭53/5/2038122 days
32ReleaseA♭57/5/2038304 days
33ReleaseA♭45/5/2039214 days
34SoundD4, A♭412/5/2039122 days
35ReleaseD4, A♭44/5/2040275 days
36SoundD♭3, B♭31/5/2041424 days
37ReleaseD♭3, B♭33/5/2042610 days
38ReleaseA2 (16′)11/5/2043243 days
39SoundA3, D47/5/2044243 days
40Sound
Release
E4
A♯4
3/5/2045365 days
41SoundB4, C5, A♯53/5/2046579 days
42ReleaseC4 (16′), B4, C5, A♯510/5/2047489 days
43SoundC3 (16′)2/5/2049424 days
44SoundD♯4, A44/5/2050306 days
45ReleaseA3, D4, E42/5/2051273 days
46ReleaseD♯4, A411/5/2051547 days
47SoundE♭3, B35/5/2053549 days
48ReleaseC3 (16′)11/5/2054608 days
49ReleaseE♭3, B37/5/2056396 days
50SoundB♭48/5/2057273 days
51SoundA2 (16′)5/5/2058549 days
52ReleaseA2 (16′)11/5/2059152 days
53SoundG♭4, C5, D♭54/5/206061 days
54ReleaseG♭4, C5, D♭56/5/2060153 days
55Sound
Release
E4
B♭4
11/5/206092 days
56SoundB4, C5, E♭5, C62/5/206159 days
57ReleaseC5, E♭5, C64/5/2061153 days
58Sound
Release
D4
E4
9/5/2061334 days
59SoundA♯3, D♯4, F♯48/5/2062549 days
60ReleaseA♯3, F♯42/5/20641,065 days
61Sound
Release
A3, A4
D♯4
1/5/2067151 days
62ReleaseD46/5/2067396 days
63ReleaseA2, A47/5/2068973 days
64ReleaseD♭4 (16′)3/5/2071122 days
65ReleaseB47/5/2071

While you are waiting for Part 2 to begin, you might as well make your way over to the theater and watch 100 Years, the movie that has been produced but won’t be released until November 18, 2115.

The official website (in German) of the Sankt Burchardi Church where this song is played gives more information about “Organ²/ASLSP (As Slow As Possible).”

For the true fans, you may purchase a 17-minute MP3 rendition of the song from Amazon Music here for $1.29. The site also lets you play a 30-second sample, which, to our untrained musical ears, sounds like horns blaring in rush hour traffic, but what do we know?

If you’d like to hear the song but don’t want to wait 6 centuries to get the full effect, you can listen to a vastly-sped-up rendition here:


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