Five-Hour MP3 Performance

In years to come, April 1 will be the day with the lowest traffic on the Internet, as users do their best to avoid being suckered by deadpan pranks. Hence my initial hesitation when this past Saturday I received an email from a friend pointing me to a full five hours of performance in the MP3 format by Steve Roden, who is known for his threadbare minimalism and is equally at home in the recording studio and the art gallery. Turns out it’s true. In August last year, at the second annual Soundwalk sound-art event in Long Beach, California, Roden undertook a “durational performance,” the complete recording of which is available in five hour-long MP3s at He holed up in the corner of a room and played an improvised mix of bells tones, contact-mic investigations, murmurings, modest chants and less identifiable sounds, a kind of non-denominational ritual of the quotidian. Advises Roden in the accompanying note, which includes his initial proposal, “since the piece was playing through speakers located roughly 10 feet above the audience and reflecting off a dome ceiling back down to the listeners below, i would not recommend headphone listening, but giving the sound some distance.” More info at and at Roden’s homepage, (And thanks to Jeff Levine for emailing me the tip.)

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