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64 Orchard Place, London, United Kingdom

Longplayer London Reviews

joseph98 joseph98
129 reviews
A 21st Century experiment in a 19th Century Lighthouse! Sep 03, 2017
Those of a particularly musical inclination may be aware of the Longplayer project, a one thousand year long musical composition that began on January 1, 2000 and is set to continue right through until December 31 2999, at which point it is due to reset and start all over again. Not that any of us will be around to see if the venture is still going then, let alone if anyone will be interested in keeping it going, but still…

Longplayer operates by selecting and combining sections from six different pieces of music in such a way that no particular musical notation is ever repeated during the 1000 years of its playing. It is controlled by a suitably complex computer program, and the output can be heard on the musical instruments the music was written for - namely, Tibetan singing bowls.

There are listening posts in the north of England at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, plus San Francisco, and you can listen online via the website too. But the project’s headquarters is in the prominent Lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf on City Island in the Docklands area of London. The lighthouse itself - the only one in London, and once used as a place to train lighthouse keepers - has some historical interest in its own right, but Longplayer itself is the main draw.

A climb up the steps to the first floor takes you to the main musical room; in other words, where the bowls are. You can walk among them enroute to having a look at the computer controlling the algorithm that produces the chiming music. A computer station is also on hand to supplement the information panels, given further background context to the story behind the project, not least the different concepts - cosmological, philosophical and so on - we have about time that the piece aims to explore.

It is very much worth climbing up to the viewing gallery at the top of the lighthouse, where the soundscape really comes in to its own. Hearing the rhythm of the gongs as you look across to the views of the O2 Arena (a more ill-fated Millennium project that has since turned in to a huge music venue), Canary Wharf and the Docklands Area is relaxing, spine-tingling and just a little unnerving…

The Trinity Buoy Wharf Area itself is worth a look too. As well as the aforementioned views, it prides itself on being something of a Bohemian Arts Quarter, playing off the area’s historical roots as a shipping dock by fusing the disused buildings with creative art installations. The island setting ensures it is a blissfully quiet (and therefore near visitor-free!) area by London standards, although still very accessible by public transport.
The Lighthouse
It's been playing for how long?
The main 'music room'
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
NickelP says:
I went to the website to check it out but you have to download something to be able to stream it. Might do that after my trips.
Posted on: Sep 04, 2017
joseph98 says:
It is Nicole, I'm glad to confirm, and most people wouldn't have heard of it, I reckon!
Posted on: Sep 04, 2017
NickelP says:
I'd never heard of this. Sounds super cool.
Posted on: Sep 04, 2017
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