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TexasKing View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Is prog rock genre defined by instrumental sounds?
    Posted: December 10 2016 at 07:29
I always doubt is PROG ROCK a genre of a specific style of rock music. If it is a genre it seems to me that is not defined by specific instrumental sounds - what kind of sound a guitar or drums should band members make for something that can be called that genre. 
And according to this all bands which made some specific, defined sound that is musically pretty similar basically are lumped into one genre as it is not a case with prog rock where prog rock bands sound so different, esp. when we compare for example bands Yes, Jethro Tull and Rush. For example Steve Howe in Yes produces one kind of guitar sounds, while Alex Lifeson in Rush produces by a mile different sounds than Howe, but both of them are lumped into one same genre. 

The main question is: Is prog rock as a genre defined by what kind of sound instruments should make? 
My answer would be: No. Prog rock is not defined by instrumental sounds as genres e.g. BLUES ROCK, HARD ROCK or THRASH METAL. Bands in these three mentioned genres sound basically pretty similar or the same while in PROG ROCK they sound very different. 

Your opinions? 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 10 2016 at 07:40
I think that the definition on PA is very clear about this sort of thing as well as this from Wikipedia which more or less delivers a similar descriptive analysis of what exactly prog rock is:


Progressive rock (shortened as prog; sometimes art rock, classical rock or symphonic rock) is a broad subgenre of rock music[5] that originated in the United Kingdom and United States throughout the mid to late 1960s. Initially termed "progressive pop", the style was an outgrowth of psychedelic bands who abandoned standard pop traditions in favour of instrumentation and compositional techniques more frequently associated with jazz, folk or classical music. Additional elements contributed to its "progressive" label: lyrics were more poetic, technology was harnessed for new sounds, music approached the condition of "art", and the studio, rather than the stage, became the focus of musical activity, which often involved creating music for listening, not dancing.

Prog is based on fusions of styles, approaches and genres, involving a continuous move between formalism and eclecticism. Due to its historical reception, prog's scope is sometimes limited to a stereotype of long solos, overlong albums, fantasy lyrics, grandiose stage sets and costumes, and an obsessive dedication to technical skill. While the genre is often cited for its merging of high culture and low culture, few artists incorporated literal classical themes in their work to any great degree, and only a handful of groups purposely emulated or referenced classical music.

The genre coincided with the new journalistic division between "pop" and "rock" artists that lent generic significance to both terms, as well as an economic boom that allowed record labels to allocate more creative control to their artists. Prog saw a high level of popularity in the mid 1970s, but faded soon after. Conventional wisdom holds that the rise of punk rock caused this, although in reality a number of factors contributed to the decline.[6] Music critics, who often labelled the concepts as "pretentious" and the sounds as "pompous" and "overblown", tended to be hostile towards the genre or to completely ignore it.[7] After the late 1970s, progressive rock fragmented in numerous forms; some bands achieved commercial success well into the 1980s, albeit with changed lineups and more compact song structures, and some crossed into symphonic poparena rock, or new wave.

Proto-prog is the advanced music that slightly predates the full-fledged prog era. In 1967, "progressive rock" constituted a diversity of loosely associated style codes. The Canterbury scene, originating in the late 1960s, denoted a subset of prog bands who emphasised the use of wind instruments, complex chord changes and long improvisations. Rock in Opposition, from the late 1970s, was more avant-garde, and when combined with the Canterbury style, created avant-prog. In the 1980s, a new subgenre, neo-progressive rock, enjoyed some commercial success, although it was also accused of being derivative and lacking in innovation. Post-progressive draws upon newer developments in popular music and the avant-garde since the mid 1970s.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 10 2016 at 08:11
Originally posted by siLLy puPPy siLLy puPPy wrote:

I think that the definition on PA is very clear about this sort of thing as well as this from Wikipedia which more or less delivers a similar descriptive analysis of what exactly prog rock is:


Progressive rock (shortened as prog; sometimes art rock, classical rock or symphonic rock) is a broad subgenre of rock music[5] that originated in the United Kingdom and United States throughout the mid to late 1960s. Initially termed "progressive pop", the style was an outgrowth of psychedelic bands who abandoned standard pop traditions in favour of instrumentation and compositional techniques more frequently associated with jazz, folk or classical music. Additional elements contributed to its "progressive" label: lyrics were more poetic, technology was harnessed for new sounds, music approached the condition of "art", and the studio, rather than the stage, became the focus of musical activity, which often involved creating music for listening, not dancing.

Prog is based on fusions of styles, approaches and genres, involving a continuous move between formalism and eclecticism. Due to its historical reception, prog's scope is sometimes limited to a stereotype of long solos, overlong albums, fantasy lyrics, grandiose stage sets and costumes, and an obsessive dedication to technical skill. While the genre is often cited for its merging of high culture and low culture, few artists incorporated literal classical themes in their work to any great degree, and only a handful of groups purposely emulated or referenced classical music.

The genre coincided with the new journalistic division between "pop" and "rock" artists that lent generic significance to both terms, as well as an economic boom that allowed record labels to allocate more creative control to their artists. Prog saw a high level of popularity in the mid 1970s, but faded soon after. Conventional wisdom holds that the rise of punk rock caused this, although in reality a number of factors contributed to the decline.[6] Music critics, who often labelled the concepts as "pretentious" and the sounds as "pompous" and "overblown", tended to be hostile towards the genre or to completely ignore it.[7] After the late 1970s, progressive rock fragmented in numerous forms; some bands achieved commercial success well into the 1980s, albeit with changed lineups and more compact song structures, and some crossed into symphonic poparena rock, or new wave.

Proto-prog is the advanced music that slightly predates the full-fledged prog era. In 1967, "progressive rock" constituted a diversity of loosely associated style codes. The Canterbury scene, originating in the late 1960s, denoted a subset of prog bands who emphasised the use of wind instruments, complex chord changes and long improvisations. Rock in Opposition, from the late 1970s, was more avant-garde, and when combined with the Canterbury style, created avant-prog. In the 1980s, a new subgenre, neo-progressive rock, enjoyed some commercial success, although it was also accused of being derivative and lacking in innovation. Post-progressive draws upon newer developments in popular music and the avant-garde since the mid 1970s.


I can't get the answer on my question from this Wikipedia long desciprtion. It says a lot, but not the essence. And it doesn't emphasize the big musical difference between prog bands. 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 10 2016 at 08:28
It makes sense to me. Prog rock is NOT defined by any particular instruments or instrumental sounds but rather by composition, scope and subject matter that is employed. Since prog is a form of rock, then it is by definition mostly a guitar, bass, drum and keyboard type of music that does serve as the stereotype but there are plenty of example to the contrary. If you want a quick short answer, then NO Big smile
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 10 2016 at 09:46
Originally posted by TexasKing TexasKing wrote:

The main question is: Is prog rock as a genre defined by what kind of sound instruments should make? 
My answer would be: No. Prog rock is not defined by instrumental sounds as genres e.g. BLUES ROCK, HARD ROCK or THRASH METAL. Bands in these three mentioned genres sound basically pretty similar or the same while in PROG ROCK they sound very different. 

Agreed, the prog rock philosophy is to develop, experiment and add more variety rather than stick to tight rules.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 10 2016 at 09:58

Yes, and these sounds are produced by instruments called synthesizers and Mellotrons. Unless you like Tool, in which this rule no longer applies.



Edited by SteveG - December 12 2016 at 04:07
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 10 2016 at 10:13
I think this is about the point where someone links to one of those "prog vs progressive" threads that crop up every once in a while. In short, prog is as much of a genre, with its defined sounds, instruments, and cliches, as any other. Progressive is what people pretend prog rock is to feel intelligent about their musical tastes Wink
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 10 2016 at 10:25
To me there are three main types of prog fan:

1) Those that think it's all about Mellotrons and MiniMoogs and don't consider a lot of the music on PA as 'prog'
2) Those who interpret "progressive rock" literally and think most experimental rock is 'prog'
3) Those who like Rush, Floyd, Zappa, etc. but have no idea what 'prog' is

I think group 3 is the largest. So, to answer the OP...it depends on the listener and what their definition of 'prog' is.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 10 2016 at 11:08
The Rush album 2112 is totally guitar-driven with the absence of any kind of keyboards but it's labeled as prog rock. 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 10 2016 at 11:13
Originally posted by TexasKing TexasKing wrote:

The Rush album 2112 is totally guitar-driven with the absence of any kind of keyboards but it's labeled as prog rock. 

1. Listen to the first three seconds of the album. Keyboards.

2. Prog =/= has keyboards. 

3. 2112 is considered prog because of the extended compositional scale of the piece. It's a 20+ minute multi-section epic with a dystopian sci-fi plot line. Even if all the licks and riffs therein are based on the pentatonic scale, it's considered prog because it's far more elaborate than your typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-solo-chorus structure that is typical of rock music.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 10 2016 at 11:21
Originally posted by siLLy puPPy siLLy puPPy wrote:

Prog rock is NOT defined by any particular instruments or instrumental sounds but rather by composition, scope and subject matter that is employed. Since prog is a form of rock, then it is by definition mostly a guitar, bass, drum and keyboard type of music that does serve as the stereotype but there are plenty of example to the contrary. If you want a quick short answer, then NO Big smile
I completely agree with you.


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 10 2016 at 11:50
Originally posted by Magnum Vaeltaja Magnum Vaeltaja wrote:

Originally posted by TexasKing TexasKing wrote:

The Rush album 2112 is totally guitar-driven with the absence of any kind of keyboards but it's labeled as prog rock. 

1. Listen to the first three seconds of the album. Keyboards.

2. Prog =/= has keyboards. 

3. 2112 is considered prog because of the extended compositional scale of the piece. It's a 20+ minute multi-section epic with a dystopian sci-fi plot line. Even if all the licks and riffs therein are based on the pentatonic scale, it's considered prog because it's far more elaborate than your typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-solo-chorus structure that is typical of rock music.

But according to Lifeson's guitar sound through the whole song it's hard rock to my ears. 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 10 2016 at 13:38
The only stylistic ground that Progressive Rock stakes out is the Rock element. However, the Rock element is sometimes a product of the guitar contribution. Other times it's completely reliant on the drumming style (e.g. Univers Zero), while other Prog drummers may be exceedingly Jazzy (I'm thinking specifically of Gilgamesh - Another Fine Tune You've Got Me Into). So, no. It's not characterized by instruments or style of playing instruments.





Edited by HackettFan - December 10 2016 at 13:39
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 10 2016 at 14:24
Of course it is... just not the same one every time.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 10 2016 at 15:10
In 1979 Prog Rock changed its name and was called New Wave. 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 10 2016 at 15:24
The sound of Prog Rock is the sound of a Mellotron stamping on a human face - forever.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 10 2016 at 16:01
The way I see it it's either one of these three:

#1 - Progressive rock and "experimental rock" are the same thing
#2 - Prog rock is defined by the sound of the 'classic prog bands', therefore is a style
or
#3 - It's another meaningless sub-genre title that has no real accurate definition 
Classical music isn't dead, it's more alive than it's ever been. It's just not on MTV.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 10 2016 at 18:14
Originally posted by Dean Dean wrote:

Of course it is... just not the same one every time.
Indeed


Originally posted by hellogoodbye hellogoodbye wrote:

In 1979 Prog Rock changed its name and was called New Wave.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 10 2016 at 19:25
I don't know. I don't worry about labels too much. I just listen to see if I like it or not. Duke Ellington said there are only two kinds of music. That works for me.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 10 2016 at 19:27
Originally posted by Mascodagama Mascodagama wrote:

The sound of Prog Rock is the sound of a Mellotron stamping on a human face - forever.
...and a Les Paul played through a fuzz tone, forever....

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