Organ²/ASLSP (As SLow aS Possible) ~ John Cage
❦ Art Film (2020)
Organ2/ASLSP (As Slow as Possible) is a musical piece by John Cage and the subject of one of the longest-lasting musical performances yet undertaken. It was originally written in 1987 for organ and is adapted from the earlier work ASLSP 1985; a typical performance of the piano version lasts 20 to 70 minutes. In 1985, Cage opted to omit the detail of exactly how slowly the piece should be played.
As Slow as Possible
Organ2/ASLSP (As Slow as Possible ) is a musical piece by John Cage and the subject of one of the longest-lasting…
Cage first wrote the piece, for piano, in 1985; the tempo instruction was, “As slow as possible.” He then reworked it for the organ in 1987, and it became known as “Organ²/ASLSP.”
But that raised questions. On piano, the sound fades after a key is hit; on the organ, notes can be held indefinitely. Or can they? What about when the organist needs to eat, or go to the bathroom? Or dies?
Those questions occupied a group of composers, organists, musicologists and philosophers, some of whom had worked with Cage, at a conference in the town of Trossingen, in southern Germany, in 1998. They developed the idea of a performance calibrated to the life expectancy of an organ. The first modern keyboard organ is thought to have been built in Halberstadt in 1361, 639 years before the turn of the 21st century — so they decided the performance would last for 639 years.