Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Cutler, Chris. “Plunderphonia.” In Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music, edited by Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner, 138-56. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004.

Plunderphonics—the technique of sampling and then dramatically editing those samples of existing music—challenges traditional notions of property rights, individual creativity, and originality, and thus calls for news modes of discourse. When recorded music becomes the sole source material for a new composition (the re-edited work), the concept of origination no longer matters; this radically subverts art music narratives of creative geniuses and autonomous artworks. Instead, plundering is a form of positive plagiarism that does not fit into the current modes of discourse on originality and property rights or existing copyright laws that emphasize the creation of a work by one author from nothing. Recording undermines the core of the classical art tradition because it bypasses notation, allowing the finished music itself to become the raw material of a re-edited work. Instead of creativity being the sole province of the composer in the art music tradition, recorded sounds and plundering place the impetus of creativity on the listener as new art can be made solely through listening without the constraints of notation. In order to better understand how musical plundering operates within popular and, more rarely, art music, we need to develop new frameworks of engaging with these issues of copyright and creativity.

Works: John Oswald: The Great Pretender (139), Plexure (153); Michael Jackson: Will You Be There? (139); John Coltrane (performer): My Favorite Things (142); John Cage: Imaginary Landscape No. 1 (145), Imaginary Landscape No. 4 (145), Imaginary Landscape No. 5 (145); Ottorino Respighi: Pina di Roma (145); Pierre Schaeffer: Etude aux tourniquets (145); James Tenney: Collage No. 1 (145), Viet Flakes (147); Frank Zappa: Absolutely Free, Lumpy Gravy, We’re Only in it for the Money (148); The Beatles: Tomorrow Never Knows (148), Revolution 9 (148); Stockhausen: Opus 1970 (148); The Residents: Third Reich and Roll (148), Beyond the Valley of a Day in the Life: The Residents Play The Beatles/The Beatles Play The Residents (149); Richard Tryhall: Omaggio a Jerry Lee Lewis (148).

Sources: Dolly Parton (performer): The Great Pretender; Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 (139); Richard Rodgers (composer), Oscar Hammerstein II (lyricist): My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music (142); Elvis Presley (performer): Blue Suede Shoes (145); Jerry Lee Lewis: Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (148).

Index Classifications: 1900s, Popular

Contributed by: Sarah Kirkman

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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