Max Richter is inviting listeners around the globe to partake in some communal meditative reflection, to mark World Sleep Day (19 March 2021). The composer has created a new, hour-long musical special, available on his popular SLEEP app, released in 2020, which aims to connect us all in a moment of continued disconnection.

The piece – which is taken from the original 8.5-hour long SLEEP composition written by Richter in 2015 – provides an apt soundtrack for the times we’re living in, as days turn sideways and sleep itself may be eluding you. Sleeping is a necessary common denominator, and, with his new activation, Richter aims to play on the collective experience of sleep in a ‘manifesto for a slower pace of existence’.

How to listen

Simply download the free SLEEP app, block out 60 minutes in your calendar, and tune in on Friday. While the original composition was intended to be played overnight while you sleep, lullaby-like, this new iteration is ideal for a lunch-break power-up or as a soothing backdrop to your yoga session.

The app – which was developed by Deutsche Grammophon – enables users to create personalised musical sessions, with planetary animations programmed in accordance with the app’s musical themes. Each of the sessions – Sleep, Meditate and Focus – has its own musical sequence, developed in collaboration with Richter, who has also composed a new wake-up alarm sound especially for the app.

Screenshots from Max Richter’s sleep app
Screenshots from Max Richter’s SLEEP app

Moving into new mediums, Richter is also using World Sleep Day to launch a documentary, available on different platforms globally (including iPlayer in the UK, and Mubi in the US). 

This new project, which has been created in close collaboration with Richter’s creative partner, artist and BAFTA-winning filmmaker Yulia Mahr, seeks to examine the relationship between music and the subconscious mind. Tonally, the film is similar to that of the app, through the use of meditative archive footage.

What SLEEP means today

‘Five years ago I wrote SLEEP as an invitation to pause our busy lives for a moment,’ Richter explains. ‘Now we are all facing an unexpected and unwelcome pause. It is far from easy to adjust to this new normal, which daily brings fresh anxiety and suffering to our communities, to those we love, and to ourselves. At this time the magical ability of creativity to elevate our days and to connect us with one another is more valuable than ever.’ Sleep well! §