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    Posted: September 12 2016 at 17:30
Hi! 

I would like to know what you guys think about the medieval influences that can be found in prog rock. Why it's so common to find artists and concept albuns constructed based in this theme ? 

One more thing, probably related with the previous question. It's evident that England was one of the main countries to develop this genre. So, what you guys think about it ? There is some regional or cultural explanations for this fact ?

Thank you!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote The misanthrope Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 12 2016 at 17:44
England is essentially the birth place of prog rock, so it stands to reason that English history would find its way into the music. In a broader social context the British live side by side with medieval history, it is part of their collective memories.  Fantasy literature and the hippy movement where also popular. Tolkien's books played a part in influencing a lot of bands from England. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant both admit to being Tolkien fans whose work they reference in their songs. Rush though Canadian also where fans of Tolkien, they even had the song  called Rivendale on their fly by night album.
Others like Ian Anderson felt a deep reverence for England's agrarian past.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Logan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 12 2016 at 18:22
And I think it had something to do with the influence of folk music on Prog -- there's lot of British folk that has medieval or pre-industrial themes. During Prog's heyday, Medieval Folk Rock was going strong in England and Germany. A considerable amount of Prog and Folk Rock (and of course Prog Folk) certainly drew on medieval, renaissance and baroque music, and many Prog groups explored a pastoral sound.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote brainstormer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 12 2016 at 20:45
I find the Medieval music that I like the most like Codex Montpellier and many others isn't represented much in Prog Rock.  You just need to explore it a lot and know where to look.   It's unearthly and show's it wasn't the dark ages after all.  We just have no understanding of those times.

Codex Montpellier - Amor potest conqueri
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2quJJXW-ASU


Edited by brainstormer - September 18 2016 at 21:41
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Icarium Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 12 2016 at 23:03
ironicly few people actualy knows how medieval music sounds like, and mostly medieval music known printed is gregorian chant music, or what-ever its preferred to called, exept one might assume the lute was popular in the traditonal music scene, recieting ballads while playing lute.




Edited by Icarium - September 12 2016 at 23:04
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote Dean Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2016 at 00:23
^ I agree with Robert and Chris

I also think "Medieval" is going back too far - aside from Gryphon and perhaps Gentle Giant I don't think there is any Medeival influence in Prog. The folk revival of the mid 1960s could barely go back as far as the 16th century for its material (there is only one song in the Child Ballads that dates from the late Medieval), most traditional British folk songs date from the 17th and 18th centuries and were first revived during the late-Edwardian and Victorian eras and the tunes themselves were considerably younger - medieval instruments were hardly ever used during the folk revival (Mandolin and Hurdy Gurdy are later than Medieval).

What we did see is a romantic reimagining of bygone days, (for example psychedelic fashion drew upon the clothes and styling of Edwardian and Victorian eras and mixed them up with Fin de Siècle, Art Nouveau, and Pop-Art), so what you get is kind of distorted pastiche of what someone thinks the music of olden times ought to sound like and not what it did sound like (a bit like Kanye West thinking he is a "rock star") - the stereotypical medieval music we tend to associate with that time owes more to Hollywood than it does to Blondel. Note here that Prog folk band The Amazing Blondel, named after the 12th century minstrel, actually played a reimagined/reinvented form of Renaissance music (ie sounds like Renaissance music but actually isn't).

One way of looking at "why England?" (and not to be too parochial here - this is one of the rare occasions where I do believe it is English rather than British - English musicians absorbed Scottish, Irish and Welsh traditional music as their own) is not that English musicians took American Rock'n'Roll and added other forms of music to it, but like the Italians and Germans did with their takes on "Prog Rock", they adapted it to fit the "local" music they were familiar with. For example trad English Folk wasn't added to Rock'n'Roll and Rock bands didn't "go folk", it was Folk that rocked up and Folk bands went "electric". However, the Folk revival of the 1960s (on both sides of the pond) came after Rock and Roll and were contemporary with Beat music (aka British Invasion) - English popular music traditions before Rock and Roll was Skiffle (musically a kind of hybrid between Jazz and Folk) and Music Hall (not to be confused with Vaudeville). When a Liverpool Skiffle band changed their name from The Quarrymen to The Beatals and became a Rock and Roll band they kept their English roots and adapted Rock and Roll to fit what they knew and were familiar with, having grown up with music hall, church hymns and brass band music. So when they finally settled on the name The Beatles and started writing music of their own they drew upon those musical influences and "rocked it up", and when they were introduced to music that was unfamiliar to them (Classical, Indian and Avant Garde to name but three) incorporating it into their music was a natural thing to do. 

Looking at it that way, it's not so much that English musicians broke away from the verse-chorus song-writing structure and the "traditional" 12-bar and 16-bar blues format of Rock and Roll, but held-on to their more traditional roots when making rock music.


Edited by Dean - September 13 2016 at 00:34
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Kingsnake Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2016 at 01:14
Jethro Tull - Minstrel in the Gallery
 
And of course Gryphon and Gentle Giant.
Maybe Kate Bush.
 
You can also try Red Jasper.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Saperlipopette! Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2016 at 01:17
Prog and its influences reminds me of the Pre-Raphaelites: a beautiful misinterpretation (or re-interpretation) of the past-times recreated using the latest available instruments and technology of its eras. It also started out in the UK and influenced artists all over Europe + just like art historians pretty much have disqualified that whole movement*, popular music writers decided to leave prog out of the story of rock. 

- but the people have never stopped loving them. 

*as sentimental nostalgia and an impure & vulgar b*****ditation etc...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Dean Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2016 at 01:43
^ good analogy Clap
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kingsnake Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2016 at 03:04
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Watchmaker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2016 at 03:37
From the "Songs from the Wood" Wikipedia page: "Filled with imagery from medieval Britain and ornamental folk arrangement" and "The descriptive term "folk music" has been dismissed by Anderson and Barre as not relevant to the album. Folk has a strong connotation of American singer-songwriters performing activist songs in coffeehouses, whereas Songs from the Wood was composed and performed as a tribute to the UK. Anderson said that the album was "for all the band members... a reaffirmation of our Britishness." "

It is strange that I have never been to Britain, but I always feel like home when I listen to albums like this one.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kingsnake Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2016 at 03:49
In dutch (The Netherlands) we have a strong difference between folkmusic and 'volksmuziek'.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2016 at 05:09
Why should England be the explanation for "medieval influences" ?

I do recall that the 14th century also happened in Germany. And France. We get krautrock and hot jazz from each of those. ;-)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Manuel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2016 at 05:50
Amazing Blondel had a lot of medieval influences in their music, and they also played lutes and many other instruments of the time/era. Gryphon of course, and many others had, to a certain degree, influences from the medieval period. i'm guessing that a lot of the classical music was written during that period, and the classical influences in prog were expressed in that way.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote WeepingElf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2016 at 08:31
There probably were several factors contributing to prog rock originating in England. One may be that England had a leftist romanticism, while in most other countries, romanticism tended to ally with the nationalist right. One may be that the British Isles (but the Celtic nations more so than England) had and still have a very vibrant folk music tradition. (But some other countries do so, too.) Perhaps it is also of importance that in England, contemporary classical composers held on to tonality longer then elsewhere. The continent had Stockhausen, Boulez and other serialists; tonal composition was almost extinct. England had Tippett and Britten, who composed in more accessible ways. There are other things contributing to it, such as the art schools and of course that England was the place where rock'n'roll came of age.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote The misanthrope Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2016 at 09:27
Originally posted by Watchmaker Watchmaker wrote:

From the "Songs from the Wood" Wikipedia page: "Filled with imagery from medieval Britain and ornamental folk arrangement" and "The descriptive term "folk music" has been dismissed by Anderson and Barre as not relevant to the album. Folk has a strong connotation of American singer-songwriters performing activist songs in coffeehouses, whereas Songs from the Wood was composed and performed as a tribute to the UK. Anderson said that the album was "for all the band members... a reaffirmation of our Britishness." "

It is strange that I have never been to Britain, but I always feel like home when I listen to albums like this one.
I feel the same way I have never been to England. My family came from there during the 18th century. I am proud of my English roots, and Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses always make me feel at home as well
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote octopus-4 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2016 at 09:28
Sometimes 15th and 16th Centuries traditionals are mistakenly called medieval. I don't think there's much from the fall of the Roman Empire to Charlemagne in the prog music. Pentangle have played some very old things. There's a medley on their double live which includes music from the 13th century, but apart of them, Blackmore's Night and Angelo Branduardi it comes mainly from the Renaissance age (I can be wrong, of course).
Branduardi in particular has rearranged madrigals in his first albums but he has also released a collection of albums called "Futuro Antico" (Ancient Future) which contain mainly classical medieval music.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Logan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2016 at 10:09
^That's true, but it's become rather like describing Western art music as classical even if it's not of that period. In terms of medieval folk rock, which I referenced before, well... I'll be lazy and quote wikipedia:

Originally posted by wikipedia wikipedia wrote:

Medieval folk rock, medieval rock or medieval folk is a musical subgenre that emerged in the early 1970s in England and Germany which combined elements of early music with rock music. It grew out of the electric folk and progressive folk movements of the later 1960s.[1] Despite the name, the term was used indiscriminately to categorise performers who incorporated elements of medieval, renaissance and baroque music into their work and sometimes to describe groups who used few, or no, electric instruments. This subgenre reached its height towards the middle of the 1970s when it achieved some mainstream success in Britain, but within a few years most groups had either disbanded, or were absorbed into the wider movements of progressive folk and progressive rock. Nevertheless, the genre had a considerable impact within progressive rock where early music and medievalism in general, was a major influence and through that in the development of heavy metal. More recently medieval folk rock has revived in popularity along with other forms of medieval inspired music such as Dark Wave orientated neo-Medieval music and medieval metal.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote ALotOfBottle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2016 at 12:24
I had a thread about a similar thing a while ago. I guess I put my questions there wrong, I was using wrong adjectives and terms, which led to some misunderstandings. My understanding was sort of wrong, too.

Anyway, there is definitely a strong influence of English art music of the middle ages (as I like to call it). Some bands really had great abilities to put those influences into prog framework, Gryphon being the most obvious one. Also Jethro Tull and Gentle Giant. There are also strong influences of English renaissance and baroque music in some prog, which one of the authors of one of the books that I've read (Edward Macan, I think) describes as an influence of Anglican musical traditions.

EDIT: Now that I'm thinking, Luca is right - most of the things heard as "medieval" actually come from renaissance and baroque, which would make even more sense, if anyone was asking why it's English music of the period that sounds a bit different from the rest of Europe. Gryphon's influences are indeed rather renaissance than medieval.


Edited by ALotOfBottle - September 13 2016 at 12:28
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hercules Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2016 at 16:08
Originally posted by Dean Dean wrote:

^ I agree with Robert and Chris

I also think "Medieval" is going back too far - aside from Gryphon and perhaps Gentle Giant I don't think there is any Medeival influence in Prog. The folk revival of the mid 1960s could barely go back as far as the 16th century for its material (there is only one song in the Child Ballads that dates from the late Medieval), most traditional British folk songs date from the 17th and 18th centuries and were first revived during the late-Edwardian and Victorian eras and the tunes themselves were considerably younger - medieval instruments were hardly ever used during the folk revival (Mandolin and Hurdy Gurdy are later than Medieval).

What we did see is a romantic reimagining of bygone days, (for example psychedelic fashion drew upon the clothes and styling of Edwardian and Victorian eras and mixed them up with Fin de Siècle, Art Nouveau, and Pop-Art), so what you get is kind of distorted pastiche of what someone thinks the music of olden times ought to sound like and not what it did sound like (a bit like Kanye West thinking he is a "rock star") - the stereotypical medieval music we tend to associate with that time owes more to Hollywood than it does to Blondel. Note here that Prog folk band The Amazing Blondel, named after the 12th century minstrel, actually played a reimagined/reinvented form of Renaissance music (ie sounds like Renaissance music but actually isn't).

One way of looking at "why England?" (and not to be too parochial here - this is one of the rare occasions where I do believe it is English rather than British - English musicians absorbed Scottish, Irish and Welsh traditional music as their own) is not that English musicians took American Rock'n'Roll and added other forms of music to it, but like the Italians and Germans did with their takes on "Prog Rock", they adapted it to fit the "local" music they were familiar with. For example trad English Folk wasn't added to Rock'n'Roll and Rock bands didn't "go folk", it was Folk that rocked up and Folk bands went "electric". However, the Folk revival of the 1960s (on both sides of the pond) came after Rock and Roll and were contemporary with Beat music (aka British Invasion) - English popular music traditions before Rock and Roll was Skiffle (musically a kind of hybrid between Jazz and Folk) and Music Hall (not to be confused with Vaudeville). When a Liverpool Skiffle band changed their name from The Quarrymen to The Beatals and became a Rock and Roll band they kept their English roots and adapted Rock and Roll to fit what they knew and were familiar with, having grown up with music hall, church hymns and brass band music. So when they finally settled on the name The Beatles and started writing music of their own they drew upon those musical influences and "rocked it up", and when they were introduced to music that was unfamiliar to them (Classical, Indian and Avant Garde to name but three) incorporating it into their music was a natural thing to do. 

Looking at it that way, it's not so much that English musicians broke away from the verse-chorus song-writing structure and the "traditional" 12-bar and 16-bar blues format of Rock and Roll, but held-on to their more traditional roots when making rock music.

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