Plunderphonics

Plunderphonics is a term coined by composer John Oswald in 1985 in his essay ‘Plunderphonics, or Audio Piracy as a Compositional Prerogative.’ It has since been applied to any music made by taking one or more existing audio recordings and altering them in some way to make a new composition. Plunderphonic music is known for  heavy sampling of educational films of the 1950s, news reports, radio shows, or anything with trained vocal announcers.

The process of sampling other sources is found in various genres (notably hip-hop), but in plunderphonic works the sampled material is often the only sound used. These samples are usually uncleared, and sometimes result in legal action being taken due to copyright infringement. Some plunderphonic artists use their work to protest what they consider to be overly-restrictive copyright laws. Many plunderphonic artists claim their use of other artists’ materials falls under the fair use doctrine.

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