Musician Frank Zappa made more than 60 albums during his career. Flouting convention and fusing musical genres, Zappa's music was often politically charged and intentionally shocking.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, on December 21, 1940, Frank Zappa was largely a self-taught musician, whose 30-year career embraced a wide variety of musical genres, encompassing rock, jazz, synth and symphonies. Avant-garde composers, as well as math and chemistry from his father's work, all fell into Zappa's mix of influences and comprised his unique approach to his art, coupled with a flouting of convention. Zappa also directed films, designed album covers and spoke about social issues. Although his unconventional aspect often overshadowed his brilliance, Zappa is highly respected as a musical pioneer.
Edgard Varèse was born in Paris of an Italian father and French mother. In 1914 he moved to the United States, where he decided to destroy all his works composed up to that moment, and to set off in a radically new direction as a composer, researcher and innovator.
In New York he worked as a conductor (in 1919 he founded the New Symphony Orchestra) and concert organizer with the aim of familiarizing American audiences with contemporary music and introducing works and composers who had previously been ignored in the United States. In the same period he started composition of a limited number of works, which would soon establish Varèse in the whole world as one of the most advanced and daring of composers, committed to exploring the unknown territories of New Music.
His intellectual shift from the dominance of melodic progression to a more textural approach to composition would see him revered by such cultural figureheads as Igor Stravinsky, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Frank Zappa, and others. His Poème électronique was one of the first examples of a purely artificial, studio-made composition, and would act as a blueprint for later electroacoustic explorations. The work Ionisation for percussion ensemble included air-raid sirens and was described by the New York Times as a 'terrible and marvellous work'. The 1954 premiere of Déserts caused an uproar comparable to the infamous response to The Rite Of Spring some fifty years earlier.
John Oswald is a Canadian composer, saxophonist, media artist and dancer. His best-known project is Plunderphonics, the practice of making new music out of previously existing recordings and is a winner of the Governor General's Award in Media Arts.
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, Oswald had been devising plunderphonic-style compositions since the late 1960s.
Multifaceted artist John Oswald nearly always incorporates an electroacoustic element to his productions. His works are part of the regular repertoire of Kronos Quartet, Culberg Ballet of Sweden, Ballet of Monaco, Deutsche Opera Ballet Berlin, Modern Quartet and Penderecki Quartet. Among his recent activities are a sound procession for Brazilia; a choreographic work for 22 choreographers (among which Bill T Jones, Margie Gillis and Holly Small); commissions from groups such as Ballet de l’Opéra of Lyon, Change of Heart, SMCQ as well as Dutch National Radio and the CBC.