Is music property? Under what circumstances can music be stolen? Such questions lie at the heart of the timely look of borrowing, appropriating and outright theft of music from Baroque till the 21st century, from classical to jazz, rock, pop and electronic dance music.

In the Baroque era, Bach, Handel, and other masters routinely recycled their own music and were quite unscrupulous when it came to stealing from others. Evidence exists that Mozart, too, wasn't quite as inventive in writing; in those days musicians borrowed freely from each other as colleagues and partners, within their theatrical community, as they made livings off ticket sales. It is also not uncommon for classical-music composers to quote each other; using age-old tunes like the dirge “Dies Irae” (used most notably in Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique), chorales of Bach (in tons of music from the Baroque to the present day). Beethoven (and many others after him) used Pachelbel's Canon in the rondo of his Op. 28 Piano Sonata; Richard Strauss took 50 themes from Vittorio Gnecchi's opera Cassandra to use in Elektra in what was less tribute than underhanded grab. Famous folk tunes like the Eastern European Melody that first appeared in Smetana's Moldau were absorbed into the mainstream European classical tradition. Leading composers like Antonín Dvořák, Zoltán Kodály, Béla Bartók made strenuous efforts to collect and record local forms of European folk music and folk songs. A good example of this process was the enduringly popular suites of Hungarian dances by Dvořák and Johannes Brahms.

Igor Stravinsky, a self-styled musical "kleptomaniac" whose genius could transform almost any compositional source material into a highly original work of art, borrowed from Rimsky Korsakov and Debussy (who in turn had absorbed quite a bit from Mussorgsky) and finally from ragtime including a ragtime-style dance in his music-theatre piece The Soldier's Tale.

Shostakovich commented on the whole issue of theme-stealing himself with his use of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," an instantly recognizable tune, in his sarcastically witty “Prelude No. 15.”

Visual, sound, and text collage, for many centuries relatively fugitive traditions, became central in the twentieth century: futurism, cubism, Dada, musique concrète, situationism, pop art, and appropriationism. In fact, collage, might be called “the”art form of the twentieth century, never mind the twenty-first.

Blues and jazz musicians have long been enabled by a kind of “open source” culture, in which pre-existing melodic fragments and larger musical frameworks are freely reworked. Technology has only multiplied the options for musicians to “duplicate” sounds literally rather than simply approximate them through allusion.

In 2012, when Bob Dylan was questioned over his alleged plagiarism of others music he responded, "It's an old thing – it's part of the tradition. It goes way back" and B.B. King stated on the issue, "I don't think anybody steals anything; all of us borrow".

In Seventies Jamaica, King Tubby and Lee “Scratch” Perry deconstructed recorded music, using primitive pre-digital hardware, creating what they called “versions.” The recombinant nature of their means of production quickly spread to DJs in New York and London. With the rise of disco, hip-hop, and electronic dance music, transformative appropriation has become the most important technique of today’s composers and songwriters.

Today an endless, gloriously impure, and fundamentally social process generates countless hours of music and there is no artist who would deny the existence of, and relation between, musical genres. All forms of music can be said to include patterns; the exchange of musical ideas throughout time is fluid.

Anthropologists have been studying the process of appropriation or borrowing in music, as part of cross-cultural exchange and intercultural communication. Unfortunately treating all forms of music the same may be identified as a melting pot effect and does not mean that everyone is being treated fairly.

According to Theodor Adorno's highly controversial view, popular music in general employs extensive plagiarism: variety in the musical material occurs in details whereas genuinely original musical content tends to be sparse when compared to classical or art music.

In this regard the contemporary construction of copyright also needs to be questioned. The confusion regarding Intellectual Property law reached a boiling point in 2002, when the British crossover-classical artist Mike Batt released an album that contains a one-minute section of silence that is necessary to separate various remixes. Batt titled the track “A One Minute of Silence” and facetiously credited it to himself and to a fictitious “Cage,” in honour of John Cage’s famous silent piece, 4'33". As a consequence he was accused of copyright infringement…

Opening new ways to look at the tension between copyright law, musical meaning and appropriation, artistic freedom will be one of the challenges in presenting the STOLEN? Project.

Most artists are brought to their vocation when their own nascent gifts are awakened by the work of a master. That is to say, most artists are converted to art by art itself. How could we interpret `finding one’s voice´? Is it an emptying and purifying of oneself from the influences of others or an adopting and embracing of origins, communities, and discourses, or is it both? Correspondingly Jonathan Lethem wrote about innovation and inspiration and concluded: ˝Inspiration could be called inhaling the memory of an act never experienced. Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void but out of chaos˝.

Simply put - creativity is all about chaos and our STOLEN? Project is about creative chaos cutting across different forms and genres in the realm of cultural production.

In this sense, the dramatic arc of the musical kaleidoscope from borrowing in classical music, the postmodern music remix and all the way to DJs will be accumulated.

With the STOLEN? Project we are seeking to explore stealing, borrowing and appropriating in music in a sophisticated context.

"Good Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal" - thus go words that Pablo Picasso may have said, meaning that one must be able to understand the principles why something works and then be able to apply this knowledge in new original ways.

And finally, from this prospect - the taking of ideas is essential in order to keep art alive.