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A music composition designed to play for over 600 years just changed its chord for the first time in seven years.
The piece, titled As Slow as Possible (ASLSP), was written by avant-garde composer John Cage in 1985. His works include the piece 4’33” (Four Minutes and 33 Seconds), a composition in which performers remain silent the whole time.
ASLSP was originally meant to be played on a piano, but Cage adapted it for the organ two years after he first created the piece. The St. Burchardi Church in Halberstadt, Germany, started playing the composition on a specially made organ back in 2001. Its last chord change occurred in 2013.
The composition is supposed to be played for a total of 639 years until the year 2640. This was decided by a group of German musicians and theologians following Cage’s death in 1992. According to the group, they decided on the duration to commemorate the number of years between 1361, the year when Germany’s first modern organ was made, and the turn of a new millennium in the year 2000.
In September, the St. Burchardi Church organized a solemn ceremony to celebrate the chord change. The ceremony was livestreamed so that interested fans who were unable to go to the medieval church in person could witness it. During the event, two new pipes were added to the organ to change its sound. The piece’s next chord change is expected to take place in February 2022.