A term coined by John Oswald to describe a particular kind of audio appropriation. His ideas were first made public in a now-famous essay called "Plunderphonics, or Audio Piracy as a Compositional Prerogative." This is an absolute neccessary thing to read for anyone who is interested in sampling. In the essay, originally published in Musicworks magazine in 1985, Oswald sets forth a kind of manifesto, which he was already enacting in his secret Mystery Labs, creating musical compositions made from other music.

Four years later, He released the results of these experiments, a CD called Plunderphonic, which contained compositions made from a wide variety of other musics, including Michael Jackson, the Beatles, Metallica, Captain Beefheart, and Stravinsky. Although he only gave the disc away to libraries, radio stations, and other interested parties and he had only pressed 1000 copies, he was threatened with legal action by the Canadian Recording Industry Association and forced to hand over for destruction the remaining copies he had not already given out.

The term plunderphonics is often used loosely to describe any instance of self-conscious sample-based composition; however, Oswald's original definition, as he described in various interviews and liner notes later, is more specific: it denotes a piece created from the work of a single artist, and no other source material. Hence Oswald's later work "Plexure", which is a 20-minute piece created from literally thousands of pop-music sources, is not strictly plunderphonic (in fact he has another name for it - "megaplundermorphonemiclonic"), but "Greyfolded", his long form reworking of the Grateful Dead's "Dark Star", is. Another requirement for a work to be plunderphonic is that the samples are not so heavily processed as to be unrecognizable. "Electroquote" is a similar but more general term coined by Oswald as well, which this author interprets to be roughly synonymous with "recognizable sample".

For more information, see Oswald's site, www.plunderphonics.com.

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