Update: The Independent reports that SLEEP will be premiered at the Wellcome Collection in London on September 26.

If you want to hear it, tune in to BBC Radio 3 at midnight where you’ll be able to hear the piece in its entirety. It’ll be the longest continuous piece of music the BBC has ever broadcast.

Renowned composer Max Richter has released a new piece of music – and it’s eight hours long.

Billed in a press release as “what is thought to be the longest single piece of music ever to be recorded” (which is nonsense, we should add – we were genuinely sent a promo of a 24-hour album earlier this year), SLEEP is eight hours in length and designed to soundtrack a listeners’s sleep. [Correction: The label actually meant to say “the longest single piece of neoclassical music ever to be recorded”, which sounds a bit more realistic.]

Richter describes it as “an eight-hour lullaby … my personal lullaby for a frenetic world. A manifesto for a slower pace of existence.”

The piece is scored for piano, strings, electronics and vocals (no lyrics, mind you), and will be premiered this September in Berlin via a concert performance lasting from 12 midnight to 8am. The audience won’t be given seats; instead, they’ll be in beds.

It will also be released as an eight-hour digital album, with a one-hour adaptation (described as “a series of windows opening into the big piece”) released on CD and vinyl through Deutsche Grammophon on September 4. “You could say that the short one is meant to be listened to and the long one is meant to be heard while sleeping”, says Richter of the two versions.

“It’s really an experiment to try and understand how we experience music in different states of consciousness”, continues Richter. “Sleeping is one of the most important things we all do,” he says. “We spend a third of our lives asleep and it’s always been one of my favourite things, ever since I was a child.” Interestingly, the piece was made after consultation with American neuroscientist David Eagleman, who taught Richter more about how the human brain functions while sleeping.

Richter’s past works include seminal albums such as The Blue Notebooks, a modern interpretation of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and the soundtracks to films Shutter Island and Waltz with Bashir. 

Watch a teaser for SLEEP below.



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