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Hugh Manatee View Drop Down
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    Posted: December 20 2021 at 00:19
Prog seems to me to exist on a continuum, with all the supposed rules and considerations serving to slide any candidate along that continuum depending on how many arbitrary parameters they meet.

It occurs to me that one condition that is applied to help determine prog credentials is how esoteric a work is.

It appears that the more esoteric a work is, the more likely it is to be considered prog.

If that is the case, does it then follow that the truest prog would be that which is beyond any listeners understanding?

Which leads me to wonder if there is a difference between prog and avant garde.


Edited by Hugh Manatee - December 20 2021 at 00:59
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ExittheLemming Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2021 at 01:54
Originally posted by Hugh Manatee Hugh Manatee wrote:

Prog seems to me to exist on a continuum, with all the supposed rules and considerations serving to slide any candidate along that continuum depending on how many arbitrary parameters they meet.

It occurs to me that one condition that is applied to help determine prog credentials is how esoteric a work is.

It appears that the more esoteric a work is, the more likely it is to be considered prog.

If that is the case, does it then follow that the truest prog would be that which is beyond any listeners understanding?

Which leads me to wonder if there is a difference between prog and avant garde.


History would tend to throw up some red flags to your argument i.e. how can an artist be popular by dint of sales and still be considered Prog (read 'esoteric?') e.g Yes, ELP, Mike Oldfield, Moody Blues, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Supertramp etc have all sold millions of albums (and notched a few hit singles while we're at it) but you are asking us to believe they are demarcated from other popular music by being understood or meant for only a select few who have special knowledge or interest? Art clearly does not exist in a vacuum and much of what might have been considered avant-garde for one generation has likely been assimilated into the mainstream for the next. The Rite of Spring or a Clockwork Orange no longer scandalise concert and cinema goers respectively. 'Music that is beyond any listeners understanding' has always been labelled by its critics as noise but my noise and your noise will be completely different and amen to that pilgrim.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote nick_h_nz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2021 at 02:06
^ The esoteric vs popular “red flag” is only that if you make the assumption that esoteric and popular are mutually exclusive. That’s not the case, however, as it is possible for something esoteric to be popular, and indeed a lot of esoteric media (be it film, music or literature) is popular BECAUSE it is esoteric. David Lynch films would possibly be an example of something both esoteric and popular,

The dictionary definition of esoteric is:

intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest.

And, that doesn’t preclude enjoyment or mainstream popularity. It is not necessary to fully understand or comprehend something to enjoy it.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Hugh Manatee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2021 at 02:15
Originally posted by ExittheLemming ExittheLemming wrote:

... i.e. how can an artist be popular by dint of sales and still be considered Prog (read 'esoteric?') e.g Yes, ELP, Mike Oldfield, Moody Blues, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Supertramp etc have all sold millions of albums (and notched a few hit singles while we're at it).

Indeed and there are many on that list that I have seen it argued are not prog, or don't fit into that category by dint of their commercial success.

As I pointed out in my OP, prog to me exists on a continuum and I would argue that the groups you named could slide up and down that continuum according to whoever is making the assesment.

I don't think that I ever implied that art exits in a vacuum so I can't really address that part of your response.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Hugh Manatee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2021 at 02:20
Originally posted by nick_h_nz nick_h_nz wrote:

It is not necessary to fully understand or comprehend something to enjoy it.


I agree, and would add that to a certain extent it is the mystery that is the selling point.

I am reminded of "Lola" by The Kinks. One of the things that originally drew people to it was its mystery. Once it became commen knowldege what it was about, the song seemed to lose some of its sheen.

It's not for nothing that Don McClean doesn't like to talk about what "American Pie" is really all about.


Edited by Hugh Manatee - December 20 2021 at 02:23
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote nick_h_nz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2021 at 02:23
^^ Of those listed bands, I think only Yes and Genesis have been close to universally accepted as prog. I have seen multiple arguments as to why the others are not prog. The continuum idea definitely works for me.

I’ve always thought of prog on a monochrome spectrum of sorts. If here is some theoretical idea of what is undeniably and unarguably prog at one end (it doesn’t matter if this is black or white, but let’s call it black for simplicity), the. At the other end of the spectrum is something that is absolutely and certainly NOT prog (in this case, white). What is or isn’t prog is the (50 shades of) grey in the middle. Bands like Yes and Genesis are definitely closer to the black than the other listed bands above - but that doesn’t mean any are or are not prog. It’s all so what subjective, as everyone has a different idea of how grey something has to be, to be prog (or not).



Edited by nick_h_nz - December 20 2021 at 02:24
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hugh Manatee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2021 at 02:33
I would add that to many people who know a lot of these bands (and I'm including Yes here) would known them through their "non-prog" work. 

A lot of those people wouldn't consider them in terms of the classification "prog".

[Edit for clumsiness]


Edited by Hugh Manatee - December 20 2021 at 03:23
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote nick_h_nz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2021 at 03:06
Originally posted by Hugh Manatee Hugh Manatee wrote:

I would add that to many people who know a lot of these bands (and I'm including Yes here) they would known them through their "non-prog" work. 

A lot of those people wouldn't consider them in terms of the classification "prog".

Hence why I didn’t call them black, but just suggested they would be closer to black. The first Yes song I ever heard was “Owner”, and that’s probably the only Yes song a lot of people know.

For a lot of people my age, the only Genesis we knew was the singles from Shapes and Touch we heard on the radio. I found out about their earlier incarnation completely by accident. I bought Foxtrot after Invisible Touch, because it was by the same band, so thought it would sound the same, and because the cover looked cool, and it was cheaper than Shapes (which I would probably otherwise have bought next).

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ExittheLemming Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2021 at 03:33
Originally posted by nick_h_nz nick_h_nz wrote:

^ The esoteric vs popular “red flag” is only that if you make the assumption that esoteric and popular are mutually exclusive. That’s not the case, however, as it is possible for something esoteric to be popular, and indeed a lot of esoteric media (be it film, music or literature) is popular BECAUSE it is esoteric. David Lynch films would possibly be an example of something both esoteric and popular,

The dictionary definition of esoteric is:

intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest.

And, that doesn’t preclude enjoyment or mainstream popularity. It is not necessary to fully understand or comprehend something to enjoy it.




I would say that something esoteric can be fashionable and therefore attain a certain amount of fleeting popularity if adopted by hipsters and trendies etc but that doesn't explain the sorts of global sales figures Prog enjoyed in the early 70's. Those are only possible when music has been accepted and embraced by a demographic on its own terms irrespective of the claims of a cognoscenti as to whom it is intended for or what is required to appreciate it to the full. I agree that it's not necessary to fully understand art to derive a valid meaning e.g. the existential malaise and dread at the heart of Dark Side of the Moon can be intuited by everyone regardless of their educational level, political nous or intelligence. That said, is the OP saying that this very accessibility precludes it as being 'true' Prog? I like to think not.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Hugh Manatee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2021 at 04:11
Originally posted by ExittheLemming ExittheLemming wrote:

That said, is the OP saying that this very accessibility precludes it as being 'true' Prog? I like to think not.

I do not make that claim.

Setting aside the term "true prog" for a moment I do propose that there is a continuum that exists between what is considered "prog" and "not prog", and its esotericness (?) goes a long way to determining where on that continuum any artist or piece sits.

I in no way wish to imply that "esoteric" is being used in any pejorative fashion here. The esoterica of prog is one of its main drawing points for me.

Nor do I wish to equate avant guard with the leavings of a male bovine, as Lennon did before fully embracing it.

I think that we can agree that prog is not just "!"s and "0"s, regardless of how music is decontructed.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote richardh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2021 at 04:36
And we go all round the houses to determine
a) no one has a workable definition of prog rock
b) 'prog' is elitist
the only thing that really matters is whether you enjoy it or not. It's not an idea, it actually happens and is real.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote nick_h_nz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2021 at 04:55
Originally posted by Hugh Manatee Hugh Manatee wrote:

I think that we can agree that prog is not just "!"s and "0"s, regardless of how music is decontructed.

Although when music was first recorded entirely on computer (apart from vocals) it was quite progressive. Some magazines even called “Perverse” Jesus Jones’ prog album. Although I doubt many here would agree with that, it just goes to show how subjective the idea of what prog is or isn’t. (They might, instead, agree with the more infamous quite that Jesus Jones sounds like The Prodigy fist****ing The Young Gods.)

This may or may not be an interesting read for those who want to know more about Jesus Jones and their pursuit of music as zeroes and ones. (As usual, it seems, the singles released were not really that indicative or representative of the sound of the album, and tend to be my least favourites on it.)


Originally posted by wiki wiki wrote:

While recording the album, Edwards "turned every song into binary codes, then fiddled with them until he had achieved a suitably hi-tech noise."[5] With the entire album being recorded into the computer, "the whole album only existed in frequencies."[8]Jerry de Borg's guitar is presented at 300 Hz to 8 kHz.[6] The Roland GR-50 guitar synth was used to load the album's guitar parts into the computer.[7] Al Jarwoski's bass, meanwhile, became 20 Hz to 4 kHz,[6] and as such, "there was no such thing as bass on the record," writers journalist Mark Reed.[8] 






Edited by nick_h_nz - December 20 2021 at 05:02
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hugh Manatee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2021 at 04:59
There are a lot if emotionally charged words being brought to the table here, like "eletist" and "true" which I don't think I've employed myself.

No problems. Music = emotions.

Nor am I trying to impune any given definition of prog.

I merely assert that esoterica is a key component in determining how "prog" an artist or piece is condidered.

If that leads to elitism then that's on the person leading it there.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote nick_h_nz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2021 at 05:10
Originally posted by Hugh Manatee Hugh Manatee wrote:

There are a lot if emotionally charged words being brought to the table here, like "eletist" and "true" which I don't think I've employed myself.

No problems. Music = emotions.

Nor am I trying to impune any given definition of prog.

I merely assert that esoterica is a key component in determining how "prog" an artist or piece is condidered.

If that leads to elitism then that's on the person leading it there.


I think the words are being thrown around by people who haven’t interpreted your post in the way it was intended, and most probably because they’ve seen soooooooo many “what is prog” threads over time, where the OPs are rigidly dogmatic in their views (the most recent being David”s).  It’s easy to gloss over threads that might seem outwardly familiar, and dismiss them.

However, I think your post is quite different, as it does not even attempt to set out t9 find out what is or is not prog, so much as discuss the continuum, and also a comparison/contrast with avant-garde. I don’t think you really set out to suggest that the two are the same thing or not, so much as to question the distinction. And, to be fair, that distinction is probably as artificial and arbitrary as the borders between any genres - particularly when avant garde and prog are not genres in themselves, so much as added descriptors that can be added to music within any genre.

Depending on genre, the words experimental, avant garde and progressive are used virtually as synonyms. One genre might use one to mean the same within that genre, as another of the words mean in another genre. it’s merely a matter of convention which gets used the most often. And convention is not so much objectivity as agreed subjectivity.

There’s no elitism in prog, but there is certainly elitism among many of its fans - and that in itself is a barrier for new fans. I know a lot of people that might like prog if they gave it a chance, but are put off by the prog snobs and gatekeepers.

That snobbery is related to emotion as much as intellect, because (as you say) music = emotions.

You’ve definitely not used the emotionally charged words yourself. That’s on those who have come here and more or less dismissed your words, without really taking them in (as I see it),

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Hugh Manatee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2021 at 05:48
Originally posted by nick_h_nz nick_h_nz wrote:

... it does not even attempt to set out t9 find out what is or is not prog, so much as discuss the continuum, and also a comparison/contrast with avant-garde.

Precisely my good fellow.

Let me turn back to "Dark Side of the Moon" (which was brought up earlier).

This album perhaps can be placed right at the fulcrum of the continuum. A monumental work that is considered by most as a cornerstone of prog...or not. It has gained an almost universal appeal even from those who wouldn't know prog if it came up and gave them a haircut. So well known...and yet it retains its inscrutability.

Perhaps there are those who want to keep Prog a closed church but I am not one of them. I want to see prog come out of the closet and be introduced to and embraced by as many people as possible. I think I've done my part in that regard.

What initially led me down this train of thought was a post I read earlier arguing that Pink Floyd could not be considered a prog band which led me to wonder whether Floyds prog credentials rested mostly on their earlier works, which led me to thinking...

...random thoughts.


Edited by Hugh Manatee - December 20 2021 at 05:50
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Manuel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2021 at 06:04
It might be one component, but not all prog is esoteric, and not even the main reason to be considered prog, not at least in my book.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote nick_h_nz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2021 at 06:25
Originally posted by Manuel Manuel wrote:

It might be one component, but not all prog is esoteric, and not even the main reason to be considered prog, not at least in my book.

To be fair, the OP states quite clearly that this is only one component/condition of what might cause something to be considered prog (or not) - and nowhere is it implied that this is the one and only, nor the most important. It seems to be that far too many people are latching into the esoteric angle, without taking into account the full OP. 🤔🤷🏻‍♂️

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote moshkito Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2021 at 09:39
Originally posted by nick_h_nz nick_h_nz wrote:

^ The esoteric vs popular “red flag” is only that if you make the assumption that esoteric and popular are mutually exclusive. That’s not the case, however, as it is possible for something esoteric to be popular, and indeed a lot of esoteric media (be it film, music or literature) is popular BECAUSE it is esoteric. David Lynch films would possibly be an example of something both esoteric and popular,

...
And, that doesn’t preclude enjoyment or mainstream popularity. It is not necessary to fully understand or comprehend something to enjoy it.


Hi,

I think this story needs a slight revision ... and it was the beginning of the 20th century that started bringing us film (and folks got scared and ran when a gun pointed at the camera and fired, and you saw all the smoke! Not a funny joke today!), and then a few years later the "talkies" which were unbelievable, and at first many people thought it was fake, and found out in a few years, it wasn't.

Classical music has had its share of "esoteric" and "strange" folks in the 20th century and it wasn't until the revolutionized 50's and 60's that a lot of that strange material really took hold and form, and was studied and enjoyed, and of course, immediately jazz and rock took off at the same time!

Since the end of the 60's, the media has taken over and they helped make a lot of things important, as one would say about "Punk Rock" ... but in the end, they had appreciated the massive changes in music and the arts, of which rock music was way far behind. Film was way ahead, if you look at what Jean Luc Godard, Luis Bunuel, Jean Cocteau and many others were doing, which was far more expressive, strange and weird than ever, and they NEVER lost their touch. Godard, today is still off his rocker, but bless his heart ... he still challenges you to tell him what it is about ... he would tell you he doesn't even know! And Bunuel, continued to paint canvases with films and his last one was probably the best of them, although not as controversial as one of his first (the painting of Jesus of Nazareth laughing) and then a couple of weeks later (so to speak) he even did a Last Supper ... both rock and jazz were at least 10 years behind these, and the media was the problem ... they were still into the "star" age of the classical musicians and famous published writers, and well known painters.

But the line, disappeared, and these days, it's really difficult to line one of these up, although you and I will sit here and scratch our heads at yet another Birth of Mozart by one of the most inventive, and crazy directors ever! Most folks can not even watch a minute of that I don't think as the nudity is totally insane!

David Lynch, for me, is not that great and he owes a lot to Luis Bunuel and many other film makers. With one exception ... Luis was well educated and grew up in a Seminary school and had a very close Dominican friend, and yet he made fun of so many "religious" idiocies which many thought were offensive, and these same folks never bothered to look in the mirror and realize the silliness. David Lynch did not have what I would consider the "extreme" education to which the director could make fun of later, and a lot of his work bordered on the weird, for the sake of being weird, what I call ... just take that hit of cheap LSD and let it do its thing ... but it only does half the intended experience.

He's fun to watch, and I don't dislike it, but I do not think he is one of the best ... just a very good one. But I wonder how much of it is the issue/problem with the Hollywood styled bureaucracy that might be a problem to get a film going when the story is ... not something the money folks want or can relate to. He probably would be far better in Europe ... with one issue. He wouldn't have one fifth of the money for a film, if anywhere close to that!


Edited by moshkito - December 20 2021 at 09:40
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote nick_h_nz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2021 at 09:57
^Ah, but you will note that I was not talking about quality at all. I didn’t extol the virtues of Lynch, nor claim him to be great. I merely used him as an example of something esoteric and popular. Quality didn’t need to come into it. 😉

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Progosopher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2021 at 14:07
What do you mean by 'esoteric?'
The world of sound is certainly capable of infinite variety and, were our sense developed, of infinite extensions. -- George Santayana, "The Sense of Beauty"
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