Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
Canadian composer, saxophonist, and sound collage artist John Oswald is best known for his plunderphonics, which involves using samples of existing recordings to create a new work. A year before Negativland got sued for their U2 EP, Oswald was taken to court for his 1989 Plunderphonics CD by one of the many sample sources, Michael Jackson. Plunderphonics was deemed a copyright infringement and all unsold copies were destroyed. He has since recorded Rubiyat Plunderphonics and the demonstrative Nine Examples of Plunderphonic Techniques, as well as written papers and given lectures on related topics. Oswald is also well-known for his Grayfolded releases, a plunderphonics-like treatment of recordings of the Grateful Dead's "Dark Star." In the mid-'70s, he co-founded Pitch with Marvin Green; the project consisted of playing music in the dark. His improvisational work includes leading an (improvising) orchestra weekly for most of the 1980s and performing as an alto saxophonist in a variety of lineups as well as solo. He has composed numerous scores for dance, and has conducted an improvised dance workshop for over a decade. Oswald is the research director for Toronto's Mystery Laboratory experimental studio, and NorthAmerican Experience's music director. He has produced a number of recordings, and has his own releases on the Swell and Musicworks labels, among others.