I still struggle from time to time trying to determine what exactly constitutes as “experimental music.” Is it music that just sounds “weird?” Is it music that has odd time signatures or use of instruments in unconventional ways? None of these descriptions are very accurate in trying to determine true experimentation. I think what constitutes experimental music is any music that physically and intellectually challenges the listener to reconsider what they would initially define as music itself. The concept of infinite music is one of the milder forms of experimental music.
What is infinite music?
Infinite music can be defined as music that creates either the illusion, or the actual occurrence of, seamless music. The type of music that, once started, has virtually no stopping point, unless forced by someone. Most times, infinite music is usually confined to the listeners of the avant-garde, who do not seem care that infinite music exists in the form of super-long ambient tracks. Notable examples include John Cage’s “Organ²/ASLSP (As Slow as Possible)” or Jem Finer’s “Longplayer.” Both pieces are crafted in such a way that they are set to play for hundreds of years without stopping. These types of pieces, however, are so “out-there” in their structure that they barely resemble what most people would define as music. Many people will perceive these pieces simply as just really drawn out notes, as opposed to “actual music.”
Infinite music exists in ways that are not obvious
What many may fail to realize, however, is that there are actually quite a few examples in which the concept of infinite music is present in music that is not experimental or far-fetched. They have normal melodies, chord progressions, and vocals that are familiar even to the most casual music listeners; but, these examples are subtle in their delivery and one needs to have patience to realize that these albums are actually an infinite loop. These examples utilize the tying of the very last track of an album to the very beginning of the first track of the album to create “the loop,” thereby making the album infinite if put on repeat. Pink Floyd’s infamous rock opera “The Wall,” Marilyn Manson’s controversial “Antichrist Superstar,” and King Gizzard’s “Nonagon Infinity” all are infinite albums that loop forever if you simply hit the repeat button.
Infinite music is great, but doesn’t seem to be going anywhere
The biggest problem that infinite music has is the lack of a patient and mainstream audience. Most people do not have the time nor the interest to discover if an album or song can seamlessly be played forever. As a music culture, we have grown quite accustomed to music having a definitive beginning and end; just like how other forms of entertainment have definitive beginnings and endings, like film, television, or something else. Infinite music helps provide the groundwork for further experimentation in pushing music’s boundaries as an art form, but this is not the type of music that is going to be played on the radio anytime soon.