Organ2/ASLSP (As SLow aS Possible) is a piece of music composed for piano by John Cage with a notation that the tempo of the piece be as slow as possible. He later adapted the composition to organ at the suggestion of an acquaintance who was an organist. The original work, ASLSP, already lasted until the pianist's audience fell suddenly asleep, orgasmed in meditative ecstasy, or an asteroid took them out; so of course it was adapted to an instrument that can sustain a note indefinitely.
Because an organ can technically hold a note for all of conscious time, and due to Cage's purposeful omission of how slow as slowly as possible was, the idea arose to play the song over the course of 639 years. 639 YEARS! Everyone alive today will most likely be dead! Most likely. Scientific advances do continue at an astounding pace. 639 years was chosen as the performance was supposed to begin in the year 2000, 639 years after the first documented organ installation.
The music began hurtling with terrifying velocity (it is traveling at the speed of sound no matter how slowly it's being played and that's pretty darn fast) from the pipes on September 5, 2001 in St. Burchardi church in Halberstadt, Germany. To begin the piece the bellows inflated, then contemplated the task before them and a rest was had for almost one year and five months. The first notes came storming from the organ on February 5, 2003. That chord lasted for one year and five months of never-gets-old before the organ got antsy and moved onward. On July 5, 2004 a devilish young thing full of gumption (a different chord) took hold and lasted for exactly a year before a dramatic and completely expected new chord angrily pushed the formerly fresh chord down the stairs on July 5, 2005 and pretended like nothing happened by ringing in the ears of all for six months.
There have been more chord changes since then. Currently, we're in the midst of an eleven month chord that began playing on August 5, 2011 and will not cease until July 5, 2012. After that there will be a change on October 5, 2013 and that will last for 6 years, 11 months. So much will change in that time, but that chord will remain the same. Constant melodic vibrations throughout the area. It's a bit comforting really, like eating the same meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A bit dull, sure, but it's one less thing to worry about.
Many pause to wonder what exactly is trying to be achieved with this performance. Some say it is just a thing that's happening. Some argue it's more profound than just a thing. Others say they don't know what anyone's going on about. Everyone else just wonders what is the buzzing in their ears. My opinion is that it's a manufactured sense of purpose. It's a comfort. A blankie. I don't say that in derision, but in admiration. It takes a fantastic sense of self and selflessness to push forward with such a project, knowing you won't see its end. A gift to future generations to maintain and feel a connection to the past, present, and future at once.
A part of human nature, as I understand it, is to create lasting impressions in the world. This is another in a long line of human works that harmoniously defies our impermanence.
Resources available to track the performance's progress.