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John Oswald, Plunderphonics



John Oswald is a Canadian composer, saxophonist, and media artist. Oswald coined the term "plunderphonics" to describe his craft in a paper called Plunderphonics, or Audio Piracy as a Compositional Prerogative which he presented at the Wired Society Electro-Acoustic Conference in Toronto in 1985. Inspired by William S. Burroughs' cut-up technique (appropriating, scrambling, reconfiguring, and collaging pieces of music), Oswald had been devising plunderphonic-style compositions since the late '60s. This collection, utilizing the technique with tracks from Beethoven to the Beatles, was released in 1989 and the CD subsequently banned and burned in Canada.

None of the recordings were ever offered for sale by Oswald. The benefits and accolades that followed consisted primarily of invitations to "plunder" other artists' and labels' archives (notably the Grateful Dead and the Elektra catalog). There has been a great deal written about the project, some of it now tarnished a bit by time and lawyers, but there is a wealth out there starting with the Plunderphonics site itself.