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Direct Link To This Post Topic: What is Prog?
    Posted: June 13 2008 at 05:30

If I had a pound for every time this question arose, I'd be able to fill my tank with petrol.

 
The idea to write this article came very recently, when someone posted the Wikipedia definition in a thread.
 
Many moons ago, I re-wrote and re-wrote the first few sections of that article, following countless suggestions, until it became like something created by a committee, lifeless, soulless and feeling generally kicked about.
 
Now I intend to answer the question in a much freer way, making it up as I go along, and going back to structuralise it (and edit out the tyqos!), yet hopefully leave it feeling as free-form and interesting as possible.
 
I'm making no effort to provide a dictionary definition or encylopedia article, and I'm deliberately leaving out huge swathes of material, choosing instead, to focus as tightly as possible on the question and provide an answer - but not the answer, as I know there will be people who will not agree with my conclusions.
 
Responses from such people are the ones I'm most interested in Smile
 
 
What is Prog?
 
It's become a question that strikes dread into those hearing it for the 100th time, and provokes such a huge variety of replies that the questioner ends up feeling more confused about it than before the question was asked.

 

If you Google it, there is a similarly wide range of answers to choose from, and if you trawl through any site dedicated to Progressive Music, you'll see a diverse range of music that includes many acts that you would in no way associate with it.

 
 
So what is it?

 

Well, it helps if you understand the history, what makes music progressive and the nature of music - but those are 3 other articles I'm working on to supplement this article - so you'll have to wait for those.

 

I'm not going to provide a list of “For Examples”, as everyone has one, and there would probably be an outcry of “you forgot to mention…” that would not be helpful to a discussion.

 

This is not about discussing every band, it is about discussing Progressive Rock as a musical style, and briefly examining the music of the two bands that, I feel, are the most appropriate to discuss, in order to get a more focussed picture.

 

 

I'm going to be bold, however, and throw this definition at you;

 

Progressive Rock is a form of Rock music with an artistic intention, that is both composed and improvised, takes its influences from a wide variety of sources, and fuses these approaches together to create music that is distinctly unlike anything that has preceeded it.

 
 

All of that is somewhat unsuccinct and vague, and requires some degree of qualification and explanation – and above all, exploration, in order to be fully understood.

 

(Note: I’ve summarised my conclusions at the end of this article, if you’re feeling too lazy to trawl through the following history and analysis).

  

 
In the Beginning
 

The first usage of I'm aware (which, naturally, does not make it the first!), of the word “Progressive” in relation to music, was Progressive or Cool jazz, in the late 1950s.

 

We'll ignore this, except to note that there was a propensity among musicians and music fans to want to label their music as Progressive - and there was probably something in the music that made this an appropriate tag.

 
 
Eclection
 

The first usage of the term "Progressive Rock" that I'm aware of is on the sleeve notes to Eclection's 1968 album entitled "Eclection". Therefore, it makes absolute sense that this album defines what Progressive Rock is, in the absence of any hard records of anything preceeding it – but it makes just as much sense to assume that the term was already in common use, as it was among the Underground or Progressive Music scene of the late 1960s.

 

A full review of Eclection’s album will be forthcoming, once the band are added to this site, but a summary is useful to this discussion; It is a rather charming lightweight folk/rock album with obvious flavours of the jangly sound of the Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, Fairport Convention and the Mamas and the Papas - but infused with Hammond and strings recalling the Moody Blues. The frequent trumpet solos also draw comparisons with Love, and once or twice I'm reminded of the Doors, Jethro Tull, and a less psychedelic version of Chrysalis.

 

This is quite a surprising mix of influences, for such an apparently lightweight folk/pop album, and there is something about it that makes it stand out from those greats, but in a really subtle way that you only get after a few listens - this is not the immediate blast of the album commonly held to be the first Progressive Rock album proper - and if you look at any list of "Elements of Progressive Rock", you will find a great deal in Eclection, and get more out of every listen.

 
 
King Crimson

As everyone knows, "In The Court..." was the first Progressive Rock album proper - therefore this is the album to listen to examine in order to discover what it's essentially all about. This does not mean that every Progressive Rock album has to sound like "In The Court..." - by implication, a Progressive Rock album must sound like itself.

 

“In The Court” has a concept running through it, the songs themselves pay no attention to 3-minute hit single formats – and chip away at standard intro/verse/chorus song structures (but not completely destroying them). The music is rooted in the Hard Rock of the Yardbirds and Cream with its tendency towards distorted guitar riffing, especially in 21st Century Schizoid Man, but meanders off dangerously into territory as far away as it can get from Rock Music in the avant-garde explorations of MoonChild.

 

The latter is particularly remarkable in that it is a true avant-garde composition, rather than a simple impovisational experimentation, which characterised the more “far-out” aspects of Psychedelic acts of previous years, and the former is remarkable in that the jazz explorations are similarly tightly constructed, yet feel improvised – again, distinct from Psychedelic bands which used “jazz exploration” to mean noodle away using a pentatonic scale over two chords.

 

Going further, the title track is split into many sections, the most interesting of which is the Dance of the Puppets – on the surface a simple, jaunty little tune, but in context, a largely improvised strip-down and development of the main thematic ideas.

 

 

Analysis

 

The music is clearly showing us 3 things;

 

1.      Tight composition with a strong feeling of improvisation.

2.      Development of thematic material.

3.      Stripping away the notion of Rock music, leaving something else entirely.

 

 

One could easily extend this list, just by using the ears;

 

There’s something about the melodies; They’re longer than we’re used to in Rock music – the phrases are not stand-alone, short, repeated units, but conjoined in multiple phrases to make  bigger phrases, similarly to Classical music.

 

There’s something about the harmonies too – dischords and soft, jazz-flavoured chords are more prominent. The use of I-IV-V is almost redundant - completely redundant in “MoonChild”, where the sense of diatonic harmony and movement towards a cadence is completely destroyed.

 

And what about the rhythms? Aggressive, strident rhythms, soft, echoing rhythms, percussion rather than straightforward rhythm – there’s a wide mixture, and this is a difficult album to dance to without looking silly.

 

Timbre? An extreme range (for the time) is utilised – a mega-distorted guitar across to acoustic. Harsh-edged saxophone, soft, blurry Mellotron, crashing drums, subtle percussion and chimes, stops, starts and contrasting sections in the music, providing a hitherto unheard of range of dynamic in rock music.

 

Form, the most critical aspect when distinguishing Progressive music from non-progressive music, we’ve already covered, and found it to be destroyed utterly for a few tantalisingly brief moments.

 
 
Summary
 
As demonstrated and discussed, every aspect of Rock music is either taken to an extreme or obliterated on ITCOTCK – and, despite the strong word, “obliterated” is exactly what happened to it. More pertinent to the cause, it is what this album alone achieved on or before the day of its release – so Progressive Rock is a very apt label for this album indeed, and it certainly stands as a benchmark for the genre.

 

Of course, there are albums with these qualities that preceeded it – as nothing is without precedent in music… as far as anyone knows – but these are mere qualities, elements, if you will. Nothing is ruled out, as the rules of music, while strongly binding like an elemental force, are not carved in stone, and the first Progressive Rock album can be whatever you like, really – as long as you have a good understanding of what it is. I hope I've assisted you in achieving such an understanding even, or particularly, if you disagree with everything I've said.

 

 

So what is Prog?

 

It’s Progressive Rock Music, music that defines itself, music that boldly goes, music that dares, music that creates, music that thinks as it creates, fuses left brain with right, music that allows itself to be influenced by anything and everything – the free-est form of rock music, yet the most tightly controlled, music that puts form over function, head over feet and soul overall.

 

But at its core, it’s consolidated, improvised rock music, that sounds unlike anything that came before it. What that means is discussed above, below, and further, in my future articles Smile 

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 13 2008 at 06:07
An excellent summary; there is just one thing I definitely disagree with: "...and this is a difficult album to dance to without looking silly." No way; I love dancing to it and don't look silly at all; on the contrary, it is much more interesting to dance to than simple 4/4 beats. Let me tell you a little anecdote: Jean and I were at a concert of Embryo, and people actually danced to their VERY complicated rhythms (compared to which those on ITCOTCK look simple in comparison).
It should also be noted that the album may have been the first, but definitely not the album which "started" progressive rock; this is nothing but a myth. Many bands were working on similar things already; just look at the Krautrock movement that really got started in 1967, although no album was published until 1969 when "Psychedelic Underground" by Amon Düül came out. ITCOTCK is just the album that appeared first.


Edited by BaldFriede - June 13 2008 at 06:08


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 13 2008 at 06:44
"Progressive Rock is a form of Rock music with an artistic intention, that is both composed and improvised, takes its influences from a wide variety of sources, and fuses these approaches together to create music that is distinctly unlike anything that has preceeded it."

I largely agree with this definition - at least as far as the classic prog bands in the early phase of the progressive movement are concerned. To everything that came afterwards the bit that I've underlined is IMO not a necessary requirement. Of course the general idea of prog - its essence if you will - is to be innovative, to not simply copy things that were done before by other musicians but instead to expand, to build upon and
to surprise the listener. However, the label "Prog" is also used as a moniker for bands which share the same style. And that's where the problems start ... how can a band be "distinctly unlike anything that has preceeded it"  but still play in a similar style like the first bands and albums which coined the phrase? IMO this is a catch 22 problem: In order to be truly progressive you have to avoid the trademarks of the key bands/albums of the style. The more you avoid them, the less similar your music will be to those key bands/albums, and the more people will refuse to accept your music as being "Prog". In essence: The more progressive a "post 74" band is, the less "Prog" it is in terms of style. Or the other way round: The closer a band is to the key bands/albums in terms of style, the less progressive it is.

Just two examples to illustrate my point:
  • Radiohead: A very progressive band, but not "Prog" in terms of style.
  • Wobbler: Very close in terms of style to the classic prog bands/albums, but not really progressive.
This is how I would adjust your definition so that it also includes the various offsprings of the classic bands.

"Progressive Rock is a form of Rock music with an artistic intention, that is both composed and improvised, takes its influences from a wide variety of sources, and fuses these approaches together to create music that is distinctly unlike anything that has preceeded it or successfully emulates or builds upon the styles of music which were initially created in such manner."

In a way, your original definition covers the "nucleus" of all prog artists ... the benchmark recordings which set the highest standards. Everything else is either a mere copy of those albums, an "intelligent extension/variation" of those albums, an entirely different type of progressive music, or a combination of these possibilities.



Edited by MikeEnRegalia - June 13 2008 at 07:26
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 13 2008 at 07:03
Prog is a label for the music I like. I don't go much for labels just great music (with goosebumps).
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 13 2008 at 08:22
Excellent appraisal Mark. Clap
 
I’d go one stage further in saying that “Nothing is ruled out, as the rules of music, while strongly binding like an elemental force, are not carved in stone, and the first Progressive Rock album can be whatever you like, really – as long as you have a good understanding of what it is
 
40 years on and we don't have a concise definition of what is Prog. This is partly because Prog Rock is not a style of music in the same way Hip-Hop or Reggae so is not something that can be instantly recognised by applying a simple formula based upon tangibles such as structure, technique and form or on improvisation, extrapolation and exploration of themes and partly because it did not have a single point of origin, but is a assortment of superficially similar artists who in turn drew their influences from dissimilar and unrelated sources.
 
Prog Rock grew out of a scene and encompassed a disparate collection of musically different bands who didn't even share a common mind-set or philosophy, let alone the desire to create a new genre of music under which they could all muster. Some of the bands that sheltered under that umbrella in the early 70s are no longer accepted as being Prog in the musical sense today when at the time they were undoubtedly part of the underground Progressive scene, while others who had lesser status then are now lauded and praised to the nth degree. Whether that is an error of the time or of now is debatable and leads to many an argument - but back then it was not a question anyone asked, it was just accepted as a given simply because of the music they were producing, the manner in which it was produced, and the way it was promoted - the Labels invented the label, not the bands themselves. Back in 1971 no one sat around debating whether a certain band was permitted inclusion into the select club based upon a clear set of rules – they either were, or they were not: by association rather than by any precise musical definition; by the record companies that signed them; by the music press that promoted them and more importantly, by the youth subculture that adopted them.
 
The founding youth subculture has since passed on, supplanted by later youth movements and their associated musical tastes, but the underlying ethos that created the need for this kind of complex, un-commercial, underground-centric music persisted in the same way it had before Prog was born. Bands that filled that need drew their influences from an equally broad spectrum of music, including the original progressive bands. Some of these bands who could cite a direct influence were readily absorbed into the genre, while others gained membership by indirect association.
 
With time the 'genre' has grown and spread, absorbing new 'subgenres' into the collective that have made the definitive definition even harder to define as these new subgenres have added to the mix as much as they have drawn from it - they may not have a direct relationship with the original progenitors of Prog or the underground scene in which it blossomed, or the subculture that supported it, but that does not make their case any less valid since the music they create is as indefinable as it ever was.
 
Once you start setting precise rules and definitions of what constitutes Progressive Rock you by inference begin to set exacting rules as to who can and cannot be included into the genre. Some (many?) would see this as ‘a good thing’, but it is not limited to new bands and subgenres, but is all-inclusive and applies uniformly across the entire timeline so even more of those bands from the 1970s (and 1980s) progressive music scene are deigned membership, or (eek!) some of the existing bands get relegated to Prog-Related and some of the existing Prog related bands are ejected completely. This would not be arbitrary, so could not be selective to include ‘favourites’ while excluding others.
 
That is not to say we cannot be precise and create exacting definitions for the subgenres, but the overall all-encompassing definition must remain imprecise and undefinable.


Edited by darqDean - June 13 2008 at 08:23
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 13 2008 at 08:26
Originally posted by MikeEnRegalia MikeEnRegalia wrote:


In a way, your original definition covers the "nucleus" of all prog artists ... the benchmark recordings which set the highest standards.
 
That's the idea - you start at the top and you can get a good view of what's below.
 
If you start from the bottom and look up, all you see is a mountain.
 
Using a high benchmark enables you to clear all the rubble away - Progressive music has never been about a style before, and I do not think it should be now, or what's the point? I certainly reject the notion of Prog as a style - it'd be interesting to see how many support this viewpoint, and from which generation they come.
 
If it's simply in a progressive "style", it might just as well be something completely different, and we should be including Progressive House, Progressive Trance, Progressive Rap et al in ProgArchives - and set up a new site for proper Prog Rock.
 
Prog Rock is emphatically and demonstrably NOT just a style - that's what makes it so special as a genre. If it was, then everything would sound like Eclection, including Modern Prog.
 
 
Originally posted by MikeEnRegalia MikeEnRegalia wrote:

The more you avoid them, the less similar your music will be to those key bands/albums, and the more people will refuse to accept your music as being "Prog". In essence: The more progressive a "post 74" band is, the less "Prog" it is in terms of style. Or the other way round: The closer a band is to the key bands/albums in terms of style, the less progressive it is.

This is not the same thing said two different ways - this is two different things being said.

 
Originally posted by BaldFriede BaldFriede wrote:

An excellent summary; there is just one thing I definitely disagree with: "...and this is a difficult album to dance to without looking silly." No way; I love dancing to it and don't look silly at all; on the contrary, it is much more interesting to dance to than simple 4/4 beats. Let me tell you a little anecdote: Jean and I were at a concert of Embryo, and people actually danced to their VERY complicated rhythms (compared to which those on ITCOTCK look simple in comparison).
 
Heh - I'd like to see you two dancing to ITCOTCK... EmbarrassedLOL
 
I'd bet most other people would find it difficult - or maybe it's just that I cant dance?
 
 
Originally posted by BaldFriede BaldFriede wrote:


It should also be noted that the album may have been the first, but definitely not the album which "started" progressive rock; this is nothing but a myth. Many bands were working on similar things already; just look at the Krautrock movement that really got started in 1967, although no album was published until 1969 when "Psychedelic Underground" by Amon Düül came out. ITCOTCK is just the album that appeared first.

Indeed - I tried to make that point clear;
 
Originally posted by Certif1ed Certif1ed wrote:

...the first Progressive Rock album can be whatever you like, really – as long as you have a good understanding of what it is."
 
Originally posted by darqdean darqdean wrote:

Once you start setting precise rules and definitions of what constitutes Progressive Rock you by inference begin to set exacting rules as to who can and cannot be included into the genre. Some (many?) would see this as ‘a good thing’, but it is not limited to new bands and subgenres, but is all-inclusive and applies uniformly across the entire timeline so even more of those bands from the 1970s (and 1980s) progressive music scene are deigned membership, or (eek!) some of the existing bands get relegated to Prog-Related and some of the existing Prog related bands are ejected completely. This would not be arbitrary, so could not be selective to include ‘favourites’ while excluding others.
 
That is not to say we cannot be precise and create exacting definitions for the subgenres, but the overall all-encompassing definition must remain imprecise and undefinable.
 
I was not so much going for a precision definition, as a precise description through example - pictures speaking louder than words, and the above "word sketches" of two key albums hopefully painting a better portrait than I possibly could using simple description and emotive narrative alone.
 
Precision in definition helps to understand why some bands are "more prog than others" (without being in the slightest bit elitist about the whole thing) - but the edges will always be blurry, which is precisely why I have shied away from trying to be completely definitive.
 
Prog IS an exclusive genre, by nature, or we'd be considering Britney Spears et al, no questions asked, as long as we liked them. Consensus is currently the main method - which is another reason why there's so much confusion over Prog.
 
Your discussion of the Underground/Progressive music scene is a very useful addition - thanks!
 
 
One quite important thing I did get wrong is that the complete obliteration of form (and melody, harmony and rhythm - but not timbre) did not happen first in "MoonChild" at all, in fact, it happened in "A Day in The Life" - although I feel it was more incidental there, rather than a composed part of the musical structure.
 
...remember I'm talking about Rock music here, before the posts start appearing along the lines of "What about John Cage?", etc.
 
 
If there's a way of getting what we might like to call a "near-definition" out of this, it'd be nice.


Edited by Certif1ed - June 13 2008 at 08:43
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 13 2008 at 08:37
"This is partly because Prog Rock is not a style of music in the same way Hip-Hop or Reggae so is not something that can be instantly recognised by applying a simple formula based upon tangibles such as structure, technique and form or on improvisation, extrapolation and exploration of themes and partly because it did not have a single point of origin, but is a assortment of superficially similar artists who in turn drew their influences from dissimilar and unrelated sources."
 
Possibly one of the most sensible sentences I've seen on PA, well put Dean. I guess we all have our own theories as to what is prog. I always think of it like this - if my local HMV had a "prog" section (unlikely, I know), would this band be filed under it, or would they be under metal, jazz or whatever. And yes, this would discount a number of bands currently in PA, but the site is moving away from traditional "prog" (i.e. Progressive rock with a capital p) towards "progressive" music (i.e. anything more challenging than the norm).
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 13 2008 at 08:39
Originally posted by Certif1ed Certif1ed wrote:

Originally posted by MikeEnRegalia MikeEnRegalia wrote:


In a way, your original definition covers the "nucleus" of all prog artists ... the benchmark recordings which set the highest standards.
 
That's the idea - you start at the top and you can get a good view of what's below.
 
If you start from the bottom and look up, all you see is a mountain.
 
Using a high benchmark enables you to clear all the rubble away - Progressive music has never been about a style before, and I do not think it should be now, or what's the point? I certainly reject the notion of Prog as a style - it'd be interesting to see how many support this viewpoint, and from which generation they come.
 
If it's simply in a progressive "style", it might just as well be something completely different, and we should be including Progressive House, Progressive Trance, Progressive Rap et al in ProgArchives - and set up a new site for proper Prog Rock.
 
Prog Rock is emphatically and demonstrably NOT just a style - that's what makes it so special as a genre. If it was, then everything would sound like Eclection, including Modern Prog.
 
 
Originally posted by MikeEnRegalia MikeEnRegalia wrote:

The more you avoid them, the less similar your music will be to those key bands/albums, and the more people will refuse to accept your music as being "Prog". In essence: The more progressive a "post 74" band is, the less "Prog" it is in terms of style. Or the other way round: The closer a band is to the key bands/albums in terms of style, the less progressive it is.

This is not the same thing said two different ways - this is two different things being said.

 
Originally posted by BaldFriede BaldFriede wrote:

An excellent summary; there is just one thing I definitely disagree with: "...and this is a difficult album to dance to without looking silly." No way; I love dancing to it and don't look silly at all; on the contrary, it is much more interesting to dance to than simple 4/4 beats. Let me tell you a little anecdote: Jean and I were at a concert of Embryo, and people actually danced to their VERY complicated rhythms (compared to which those on ITCOTCK look simple in comparison).
 
Heh - I'd like to see you two dancing to ITCOTCK... EmbarrassedLOL
 
I'd bet most other people would find it difficult - or maybe it's just that I cant dance?
 
 
Originally posted by BaldFriede BaldFriede wrote:


It should also be noted that the album may have been the first, but definitely not the album which "started" progressive rock; this is nothing but a myth. Many bands were working on similar things already; just look at the Krautrock movement that really got started in 1967, although no album was published until 1969 when "Psychedelic Underground" by Amon Düül came out. ITCOTCK is just the album that appeared first.

Indeed - I tried to make that point clear;
 
Originally posted by Certif1ed Certif1ed wrote:

...the first Progressive Rock album can be whatever you like, really – as long as you have a good understanding of what it is."
 
One quite important thing I did get wrong is that the complete obliteration of form (and melody, harmony and rhythm - but not timbre) did not happen first in "MoonChild" at all, in fact, it happened in "A Day in The Life" - although I feel it was more incidental there, rather than a composed part of the musical structure.
 
...remember I'm talking about Rock music here, before the posts start appearing along the lines of "What about John Cage?", etc.

By the way, and completely off-topic: I like the Einstein quote in your signature.


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 13 2008 at 08:42
Originally posted by Certif1ed Certif1ed wrote:

One quite important thing I did get wrong is that the complete obliteration of form (and melody, harmony and rhythm - but not timbre) did not happen first in "MoonChild" at all, in fact, it happened in "A Day in The Life" - although I feel it was more incidental there, rather than a composed part of the musical structure.
 
 
I think it was a bit of both. They had a gap that need to be filled in (hence you hear Mal Evans counting off the bars in the background) and decided to fill it with an orchestral crescendo. It was structured in the sense that each musician was told to start at one note and end on another, but unstructured in that they could get from one to the other in any way they chose.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 13 2008 at 09:47

Hello friend,

 

I' ve read your essay with much interest and pleasure. It's a relief to know that there are others too who spend their sleepless nights trying to ponder the nature of the mysterious, fluid and multiform phenomenon called "progressive rock".

 

For me, "progressive rock" is rock's attempt to be a serious music of its time. When rock wants to be serious, or to be taken seriously, when it abandons any ambition to be immediately entertaining, when it is transformed into forms whereby its protagonists can fully express their esthetic or social ideas (no matter how personal, unusual or unpopular they might be), then it goes prog. A serious music of its time (distinguished from other, non-rock attempts to produce modern serious music, such as jazz, modern orchestral music, modern electronic music, various auteur forms...). 

 

Thus, definitely, prog is not pop.  Prog is art, or attempts to be art, and I definitely agree with you on that point. 

 

Aside from this spiritual definition one can, and this has predominantly been done, offer a structural definition of prog: tendency to produce long pieces; compositional, rhythmic or instrumental complexity; primacy of music over discourse; love of theatrical elements, frequent use of keyboard instruments, proneness to concept albums, and so on and so on.

 

However, I think that these structural elements are frequent but not essential. One can easily find prog pieces shorter than 5 minutes, not complicated, with much singing or recitation, sober or detached (rather than theatrical), not keyboard-dominated and not included within a concept album format. Yet, I admit that the afore-mentioned structural elements are indeed very frequent.

 

Thus, to conclude and to concede to the structuralists, let’s say that “"progressive rock" is rock's attempt to be a serious music of its time, frequently characterized by long compositions, structural complexity and theatrical elements.

 

This is just a working definition, of course.

 

Cheers!

 

Boris Radovic, Belgrade, Serbia

 
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 13 2008 at 09:55
What amazes me is that people often think that prog is the only genre that is hard to define as such. I can assure you that I have had equally in depth discussion as to what heavy metal really is.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 13 2008 at 10:54
Prog is a pretty flower that smells bad. Tongue
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 13 2008 at 13:48
easy answer: 'progressive rock' = rock(etc) that progresses.
The Beach Boys 'Pet Sounds' , for example, pushed aside earlier notions of "pop"(whatever that is) by 'progressing' (moving past) the lines drawn around its, then current,  conventions.

its really a matter of not being bound by oneself to color within the lines.

but thats just my 2cents


Edited by Carl Snow - June 13 2008 at 13:50
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 13 2008 at 13:56
^ Problem is: This album is usually not called "Prog". Neither is Queen II, which is also quite daring and adventurous.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 13 2008 at 14:16
Originally posted by MikeEnRegalia MikeEnRegalia wrote:

^ Problem is: This album is usually not called "Prog". Neither is Queen II, which is also quite daring and adventurous.
  daring and adventurous LOL
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 13 2008 at 14:24
Just let me see if our much maligned genre would fit this definition, which I will take as valid just for the purposes of my response (it's very very likely that this is a valid definition)
 
Originally posted by Certif1ed Certif1ed wrote:

Progressive Rock is a form of Rock music with an artistic intention, that is both composed and improvised, takes its influences from a wide variety of sources, and fuses these approaches together to create music that is distinctly unlike anything that has preceeded it.

 
 
Now, for the riff-raff noisy genre:
 
A form of rock music - Definitely what we dare to call progressive-metal is a form of metal; metal, in the end, is a form of rock music pretty much stripped of some elements of the original thing but still part of it. Hence prog-metal fits this part of the definition though not 100%.
 
With an artistic intention - Well, it fits. Maybe some people won't think of it as high art or anything (many people wouldn't consider even prog-rock as high art anyway) but the INTENTION is artistic. It's obvious that commercial gain is not really the intention in most prog-metal bands as the genre has proved to be a complete disaster to generate wealth and sales. No MTV exposure and no awards and no fame, I think it has a different intention. MAybe it's not artistic, maybe it's a psychological effort to boost egos by means of showing off, but as they have opted to use an art form to do that, let's agree they do it with an artistic intention. There's no question, though, that what we dare to call "prog metal" has a much more evident artistic intention that commercial metal bands. Hence we daring to call it "prog metal" as it tries to distance itself for commercial friendly metal.
 
Both composed and Improvised - We can't say much about the "composed" part. Now, about the "improvised" part, this may be a difficult point to prove. In general, prog-metal bands have certain "improvisation" (call them jamming) moments in live performances or even in record (Liquid Tension) but that distinct flavor that the person who wrote this definition asks for maybe it's missing: the fact that prog should sound at the same time composed but improvised, free. Prog-metal tends to be tightly composed around riffs and structures (many times irregular structures, but rigid structures nevertheless). It's difficult to sense that feeling of "improvisation" that one feels with old-70's prog bands. It CAN be found from time to time. So I'd say this element fits in prg-metal only 40% or so. BUT, it can be found a lot more in what we dare to call "prog-metal" than in traditional commercial metal. Hence we daring to call it "prog-metal" as it clearly tries to distance itself from simpler, radio-friendly metal. (by the way, even though metal is not the radio-friendliest of genres, it has a lot of exposure in metal radios. But usually prog-metal is not part of the broadcast).
 
Takes influences from a variety of sources - well, prog-metal biggest influence is off course metal, in many of its forms (death, thrash, etc). But in prog metal you'll find elements of other genres (jazz, classical, even flamenco). Though maybe those influences at times may sound gimmicky, at times they're fully integrated in the music. Prog-metal fits this part of the definition. And its influences are much more varied than those of traditional commercial metal. Hence we daring to call it "prog metal" as it clearly tries to distance itself from radio-friendly metal.
 
Fuses approaches to create something distinctly unlike anything that has preceeded it - Prog-metal fuses its influences and the elements of this definition (even if some don't fit 100%) to create music; we got that part right. Now the "unlike anything that has preceded it". That may be more difficult with hundred of derivative bands that exist. The same, though, can be said of retro-symphonic-prog or neo-prog bands that don't really sound unlike anything that preceeded them. As always, as with any genre, there are bands that sound original and some that  follow them. It can be said that even those original bands (let's say, DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA) are still using the same riffs and progressions and structures that have been used before, even if they sound unique. Well, music exists since... the old 70's bands were also using elements of classical music that they didn't invent, elements of jazz they didn't create... Yes, their forms were freer, therefore they sounded fresh. It still borrowed from somewhere. Prog-Metal borrows not so much from prog-rock but from METAL. As it if were a different thing that music. What is clear is that in the bands that we dare to call "prog metal" there's a much more distinct approach at trying to re-invent the genre than in commercial metal bands (even if sometimes they may end sounding like clones... just like neo prog bands)... Hence we daring to call it "prog-metal".
 
I will say that maybe progressive-metal is not really a b*****d child of prog-rock but just a cocky, pretensious nerdy son of METAL. Maybe it wouldn't be out of place to, actually, delete all metal bands from PA as they clearly don't belong in the same genre as King Crimson or the others. Maybe, after all, progressive-metal just belongs in a METAL website as a subgenre called, well, "progressive-metal".
 
Just three points:
 
- Even if it's by means of extended solos, virtuosism (call it shredding, whatever you want), odd time signatures, and other minor elements, progressive metal tries to be "more" than traditional commercial friendly metal. And as a subgenre of rock (metal it is), we may dare to call it "progressive" metal.
 
- The elements I just used come from ONE definition of progressive rock, that one found in the original post in this thread. As it hasn't been proved to be the ultimate definition (how will we prove it anyway), prog-metal may still find its way in another one. This is ONE definition coming from one person.
 
- In the big scheme of things, this is really not important at all. But in the genreal consensus of what is and what isn't "progressive", what we dare to call "progressive metal" has been generally absoved and accepted as part of the big "progressive rock" umbrella. Therefore, and we'll have to be excused for this, we dare to call the metal that is listed here in PA, progressive-metal.
 
 


Edited by The T - June 13 2008 at 15:11
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 13 2008 at 16:09
what I'm increasingly impressed by is the era itself--  there was a time, though relatively brief, when the majority of English rock music was progressive.. perhaps not in comparison to Yes or Floyd, or what we would call Prog now, but the lion's share of British rock between about 69 and 73 (the 'post-underground' period) was elementally progressive if only because the musical standard and public expectations had increased.  In fact it would appear that pop music itself had become progressive, and was expected to be if only to distinguish it as something different and worth hearing.


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 13 2008 at 16:20
Originally posted by Hawkwise Hawkwise wrote:

Originally posted by MikeEnRegalia MikeEnRegalia wrote:

^ Problem is: This album is usually not called "Prog". Neither is Queen II, which is also quite daring and adventurous.
  daring and adventurous LOL


So you think it's just a rock album?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 13 2008 at 21:25
prog is jazz/classical rock. Clever rock music from the 70s which form clever/catchy melodies which never seem to get boring. I'm yet to hear a great band to form after 1980. Forget about the term 'progressive'. No need to invent new music styles or break boundaries. A clever song is a clever song. If you can write a great melody using your great ideas(people who don't rate hard rock and metal are on the right track). As long as you have interesting bass lines or bass playing, catchy classical keyboard, jazzy drumming, nice wind instruments, lots of hammond, rhodes, piano, harpsichord etc. Then you are on the right track :)

Edited by PROGMONSTER2008 - June 13 2008 at 21:34
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 14 2008 at 14:50
Originally posted by Carl Snow Carl Snow wrote:


easy answer: 'progressive rock' = rock(etc) that progresses.The Beach Boys 'Pet Sounds' , for example, pushed aside earlier notions of "pop"(whatever that is) by 'progressing' (moving past) the lines drawn around its, then current,  conventions. its really a matter of not being bound by oneself to color within the lines. but thats just my 2cents



progressive rock = rock that progresses

Thanks Carl, that is the only way progressive rock will ever be taken seriously by other musicologists.

To that I would add that it should be music that progresses rock a lot ie King Crimson, not U2.

Secret code words, such as "prog" as a word that does not mean the same as progressive, will always seem silly to those who are coming from outside the progressive genre.

I am not referring to the initial blog which uses prog as an abreviation for progressive, as opposed to using it as an entirely different word.

Edited by Easy Money - June 16 2008 at 07:54
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