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Direct Link To This Post Topic: The Future of Rock Music
    Posted: April 08 2009 at 07:12
First off: This thread will not be exclusively about progressive rock but since it will be relevant to it and indeed in large amounts also about it I have decided it to post it here. Cool

Anyway. When thinking about where rock music is going, there are two things that I remember the most vividly above all:

  • The days of truly interesting rock appealing to a large audience are either over or coming to an end. This is, incidentally, not a new development at all. If you wanna get pedantic this might have started already back in the 1960s and the 1970s, when it was a bit of a problem for counter-cultural rock artists that the independent label infrastucture did not exist yet because this made it very hard for them to truly operate outside the dominant modern culture and the associated political/economic structures... you know, the stuff they were opposed to. The Beatles tried to do this with Apple, but they had lots of problems with EMI when they wanted to run Apple too differently. However, for the most part there was not that many problems because the big labels mostly kept artists on a long leash creatively, so things like Frank Zappa's Straight Records were still anomalies and most small labels did not attract that many creative powerhouses. The sea change began in the late 1970s, when the big labels begun signing punk bands in large amounts and eventually found their wild behaviour spiralling way out of their control. You've gotta wonder why the music industry didn't consider themselves warned in advance, but anyway this made the people running the music industry more paranoid and created a vicious circle in which the relationship between artist and publisher became increasingly hostile. A lot of bands, not just punk but also metal and progressive acts also felt their movements' popularity was a case of pearls before swine (witness the asininity of the retarded "prog versus punk" meme which I've ranted about often on these forums) and that it was becoming increasingly clear they had to circumvent the established music industry in order to be truly avant-garde. The new generation of rock's vanguard that emerged in the eighties knew of this situation as the norm and reacted in two ways: First, artists adopted a do-it-yourself attitude, especially the punk and metal scenes which now concentrated themselves around small specialist labels; second, in style they begun leaving the casual fans behind and moved towards music written by and for members of subcultures with any mainstream-crossover appeal strictly accidental. The popular music charts became increasingly dominated by stuff that was, with fringe genres represented mostly by watered-down forms of the real thing. Now, Rome was neither built nor destroyed in one day and good, interesting rock music did find large audiences through the eighties and early nineties. However, the amount of good new rock bands with mainstream appeal became lower and lower. In my opinion, the last gasps of great rock'n'roll becoming really popular came in the nineties. Even that begins to look like a case of, yes, pearls before swine if you compare the sheer inventiveness of e. g. Soundgarden with the bland tedium of the "post-grunge" that they (among others) inspired.
  • Electronic music is replacing guitar-based rock as the stuff most people listen to. This is not something that came out of the blue, either. There was disco in the 1970s and new wave in the 1980s, genres that may now only be acceptable to like out of nostalgia but electronica had already proven itself unstoppable by the 1990s with the rise of rave, techno, house etc. Today, at most parties I go to there's mostly electronic music played, and a great deal of mainstream/semi-mainstream critics not only consider synth-pop a valid artform but often prefer it to guitar music. Notice also things like Radiohead going electronic (though not a fan of their music, I won't deny that they're the major art rock group of our time), the fact that this decade has yet to produce a good guitar band to become as popular as Floyd or Zeppelin was in the 1970s and the growing amount of people who mosten listly electronic but don't care about rock-derived forms. This is, by the way, not meant as a knock against electronica as a low-brow genre catering only to the lowest common denominator. I know that I come across as a bit snobbish in favour of underground rock'n'roll, and to be honest I am LOL, but I have listened to and enjoyed quite a bit of electronic music. It should also be mentioned that electronica does have its avant-garde and esoteric side too: The vast bulk of industrial, noise and power electronics. That entire corner is basically to electronica what metal is to rock. A lot of rave too, perhaps, because that has an associated subculture. However, in the case of rave and to a lesser extent industrial it still draws in casual fans too, even if they're not the intended audience.
So, what do I think the future holds for rock'n'roll? Very simply plut, I believe that all of rock will soon be a mostly underground genre, not just prog/metal/punk/goth/noise. I don't mean that rock period will cease being popular, there will still be "classic" bands going on tour, the occasional succesful retro band like White Stripes or Kings of Leon and the occasional fad style. All the really interesting and groundbreaking stuff happening is just going to be too esoteric (term used in a broad metaphorical sense here) to appeal to a mainstream audience, because rock has slowly gravitated back towards the underground sub-cultures since the eighties. Now, the good stuff is not be going to be completely obscure and might get covered in prominent magazines because the internet has resulted in a blurring of the border between the mainstream and the underground by making marketing and distribution much easier for small labels and self-distributing bands. However, the future trailblazers of rock will likely not reach recognition beyond the "bands lots of people know about but very few listen to" level, today occupied by for example Godspeed You Black Emperor or the Melvins... and I'm sure even that will be exceptional. Their "casual fans" will be people who might be outside the target audience but still have tastes outside the mainstream.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 08 2009 at 08:25
What future for the Classic Rock (and thus the Prog)? Hard to say. I can not give an answer!
 
Certainly, for the masses, Classic Rock and Prog today are not popular!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 08 2009 at 12:29
Originally posted by Mandrakeroot Mandrakeroot wrote:

What future for the Classic Rock (and thus the Prog)? Hard to say. I can not give an answer!
 
Certainly, for the masses, Classic Rock and Prog today are not popular!


Yeah, except for maybe a handful of bands I think modern progressive rock will continue being a somewhat underground genre and probably slide even further below the radar.

To be honest, I'm not sure whether this will be a good thing or a bad thing. It could be a good thing because in terms of the people making up the scene (both fans, reviewers and musicians) it could sort the wheat from the chaff, the rams from the sheep. Basically, attract only people who are dedicated enough to really understand the music, which will in turn result in new music in the genre being of higher quality.

It could, however, also be a bad thing if progressive rock becomes so obscurantist that it might die out as a... well, progressing genre and only have a negligible influence on the rest of the culture so we'll never again have the equivalent of when Pink Floyd made movie soundtracks, for example. To be fair, though, that's a worst case scenario.

As for classic rock? Well, there is a retro-rock fad going on right now and has been so for quite some time, but it's quite a mixed back and most of the better retro rock bands are a bit underground, or at least not as big as White Stripes or Wolfmother or their ilk. I'm nowhere as negative towards it as I used to be, since there is a lot of good old-fashioned rock music being written and recorded these days. The style is not the substance, so  you can still do interesting and fresh things with an old genre... isn't that what they call "reconstruction"? However, there's the stuff I mentioned: A lot of the "damage" seems to already have been done, and most of the better retro-rock bands around now are on small labels. The good ones who have a major following - Monster Magnet, Hellacopters, etc. - started in the nineties. Ouch
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 08 2009 at 14:56

We need to wait for about 20-30 years to be able to see whether this is right, as its only now that we are realizing that some bands from the 70s and 80s are still popular.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 08 2009 at 15:42
Your second point seems to just be a preference related to timbre that will probably cycle over time, but in regards to your second point, the same kinda of thing already happened in the mid 20th century with "classical" music.

And the respond would be who cares? As Milton Babbitt said much better than I can in his essay "Who Cares If You Listen?" it is not necessarily conducive to the composer or the music that it have a wide audience.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 08 2009 at 16:03

The death of rock n' roll has been yelled from the rooftops for decades now. But most of "Rock Music" is only related to rock n' roll in its forebearers, and it's been that way for awhile.

When Peter Gabriel sings 'It's only rock n' roll but I like it" at the end of the Lamb, already it's irony because the music had more in common with classical music, jazz, and theater than rock.
 
The electric guitar, bass, and trapset as standard instruments are the only thing that really connects Buddy Holly with Opeth. And that combo is still going as strong as it has since the early 70's when prog brought keys more to the forefront.
 
Obviously, that combo is not going to be the basis of popular music forever, but I don't see it any less now than during the computer / key craze of the 80's.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 09 2009 at 02:38
Originally posted by Equality 7-2521 Equality 7-2521 wrote:

Your second point seems to just be a preference related to timbre that will probably cycle over time, but in regards to your second point, the same kinda of thing already happened in the mid 20th century with "classical" music.


That's a good observation, really. I didn't really make the connect, but it's relevant. Maybe we'll see something like the 1960s folk music revival, but with rock instead? LOL

Quote And the respond would be who cares? As Milton Babbitt said much better than I can in his essay "Who Cares If You Listen?" it is not necessarily conducive to the composer or the music that it have a wide audience.


Of course not. I said earlier in the threat that it could be a good thing that rock is becoming an underground genre like how it started, but at this point in rock history I'm not at all sure.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 09 2009 at 02:44
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 09 2009 at 04:21
There will always be enough people around to produce good (in our sense?) music.
 
How popular it gets will depend entirely on whether anyone can figure out how to make big bucks out of it.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 09 2009 at 05:20
Originally posted by npjnpj npjnpj wrote:

How popular it gets will depend entirely on whether anyone can figure out how to make big bucks out of it.


I disagree. As ineptly run as the bigger record labels are today, even if they got their act together the entire independent label infrastructure (including internet distros) and the DIY attitude among rock artists are so well entrenched that it's limited how big a slice of the pie the big labels can get. Today's generation of underground rock musicians have it on their backbone that it's better to have 500 fans who fully understand your music than 500,000 who don't and the best career path is to stay on labels too small to financially get away with screwing you over. Those who don't are exceptions, and have been becoming fewer and fewer.

As for why the exceptions are shrinking in number? You have to remember the case of the Melvins. They signed to Atlantic Records around 1993. They got Kurt Cobain to serve as producer on their Houdini album and even that didn't get them many more fans for a very simple reason: Their signature style, as flexible as it is, happens to be too damn surreal to make much sense to people who aren't dedicated enough listeners to also go out of their way to buy their favourite music through mail order and specialist shops in the other side of the country. So, it didn't take long before the Melvins retreated back into the independent label circuit. In the end it didn't make much difference for their popularity.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 09 2009 at 06:36
Originally posted by Negoba Negoba wrote:

 

When Peter Gabriel sings 'It's only rock n' roll but I like it" at the end of the Lamb, already it's irony because the music had more in common with classical music, jazz, and theater than rock.
 
 
He doesn't sing that.
 
What he actually sings is, "It's only knock 'n' knowall but I like IT ! "
 
IT was Gabriel having a subtle swipe at the music press and more importantly, the critics of Genesis' music and prog rock in general - " If you think that IT's pretentious, you've been taken for a ride; look across the mirror sonny, before you choose, decide. "
 
As for the topic itself - Roger Daltrey summed it up nearly three decades ago when he said that everything that will be been done in rock music has been done and what we'll get in the future is just a re-hashing of ideas and styles.
 How right he was.


Edited by Keltic - April 09 2009 at 06:36
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 09 2009 at 15:27
Originally posted by Keltic Keltic wrote:

As for the topic itself - Roger Daltrey summed it up nearly three decades ago when he said that everything that will be been done in rock music has been done and what we'll get in the future is just a re-hashing of ideas and styles.
 How right he was.


Nearly 3 decades ago? That'd be 1980 or so... and that statement only makes sense if you really, really generalize or count the most fringey rock subgenres as not really rock. (and to be fair, as someone mentioned earlier in the thread, the further-out parts of for example metal don't have much to do with traditional rock'n'roll)

Then again, as early as the late 1960s you had stuff like Can and Mothers of Invention not sounding much like ordinary rock music but still widely accepted, even to this day, as rock, so... yeah. Not sure if I'm buying Mr. Daltrey's argument. LOL
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 09 2009 at 21:56
Rock is never going to stop being one of the dominant forces in popular music, but even if it were, I don't care, let it burn. It wasn't much better back in the '70s anyway.
Originally posted by Negoba Negoba wrote:

When Peter Gabriel sings 'It's only rock n' roll but I like it" at the end of the Lamb, already it's irony because the music had more in common with classical music, jazz, and theater than rock.
I haven't heard all of The Lamb, but I would strongly disagree with the last part of your statement, and theater is not a genre. :/ But I would be happy to listen to a song that you think is closer to jazz or classical than rock. I am pretty sure he's just making fun of KISS.
Originally posted by Keltic Keltic wrote:

As for the topic itself - Roger Daltrey summed it up nearly three decades ago when he said that everything that will be been done in rock music has been done and what we'll get in the future is just a re-hashing of ideas and styles.
 How right he was.
That was a stupid thing for him to say, and if you agree with that you haven't been paying attention.

Edited by Henry Plainview - April 09 2009 at 22:00
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 09 2009 at 23:47
I think rock as in heavy, guitar based music will still be popular for some time. It will probably cede ground to electronica as the genre of choice in the mainstream but it will still find an audience, mainly the youth. Think about it, people still haven't quite found a way to give the electronic stuff the sheer - um, for want of a better word - sex appeal of the electric guitar. †I am generalizing sure but take a look at little kids playing air guitar with that badass look on their faces LOL, so you see why rock still has the capacity to survive in the mainstream. †Whether it will be any good though is a matter of preferences and tastes.†Wink††I have started taking interested in contemporary electronic based prog because I don't find much new on offer in modern rock based prog, from MY perspective, anyway. †But it takes a long time and a lot of music just to get to that point, so I am not representative of the mainstream audience. †

However, I do think the potential to make interesting, challenging rock music with mainstream appeal is on the wane. Though I am not personally fond of Nirvana's music, at least one good thing Cobain achieved with Nevermind was to arrest the increasing corporatisation and genre-fication of rock music, where rock was all about super-involved guitar gymnastics and huge stadiums and to hell with that rebellious attitude, and after that I don't think anybody else has made a similar impact in mainstream rock again. †That was the last time the labels really took a punt on an unpredictable, "dangerous" band and it worked bigtime for them, we haven't seen anything like that again for a long while now. †
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 10 2009 at 01:48
Originally posted by Henry Plainview Henry Plainview wrote:

Originally posted by Keltic Keltic wrote:

As for the topic itself - Roger Daltrey summed it up nearly three decades ago when he said that everything that will be been done in rock music has been done and what we'll get in the future is just a re-hashing of ideas and styles.
 How right he was.
That was a stupid thing for him to say, and if you agree with that you haven't been paying attention.
 
Oh such a plain view, Henry ! Tongue
 
Yes, I do agree with him , and yes, I was paying attention.
 
Oh and Toaster, old sock, Daltrey was right then as he is now. For rock, read all popular music. Whether it's Can, Canned Heat or Caravan; The Stranglers, The Sex Pistols or OMD; Frank Zappa or Rufus Wainwright and beyond, the basic premise is the same - it's all just a variation and re-gurgitation of old  themes which have preceded them.
 
Take our beloved prog rock, for instance. How progressive is it really ? Come on, think about it -  Throw in some classical music, with a touch of rock, add a pinch of folk, a smithering of  r n b, a hint of blues ( you get the picture ); mix it up, then re-arrange it a bit, drag out the mellotron, synthesizers, bass pedals, and off you jolly well go. Next thing you know, you are called YES or ELP, or some other band  name with a three letter title.
 
So, you see, in effect, old Roge was right. LOL


Edited by Keltic - April 10 2009 at 02:05
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 10 2009 at 01:50
Oh, and I question the OP's assertion that guitars are dying (not that I would care, guitars suck, F*** FRETS MAN REAL MUSICIANS DO IT BY EAR!). You're viewing it from the wrong angle, this generation hasn't produced any group as popular as Floyd or Zeppelin because the music scene has fragmented tremendously. But there's still all those alt-rock/mainstream rock groups I won't bother naming.
Originally posted by Keltic Keltic wrote:

Originally posted by Henry Plainview Henry Plainview wrote:

Originally posted by Keltic Keltic wrote:

As for the topic itself - Roger Daltrey summed it up nearly three decades ago when he said that everything that will be been done in rock music has been done and what we'll get in the future is just a re-hashing of ideas and styles.
 How right he was.
That was a stupid thing for him to say, and if you agree with that you haven't been paying attention.
 
Oh such a plain view, Henry ! Tongue
 
Yes, I do agree with him , and yes, I was paying attention.
Maybe you think you  have, but if you think nothing has been done since 1979, you haven't, and I'm speaking purely from an objective standpoint here. Unless you're talking about popular music, but even then, no, Nirvana does not sound like Zeppelin.

Edited by Henry Plainview - April 10 2009 at 02:00
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 10 2009 at 02:11
Nirvanna, like Oasis and many, many others, borrowed ( nay, make that stole ) indiscriminately from other artists. Even Kurt Cobain admitted as such.
 
It's hardly news. They all do it and will continue to do it.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 10 2009 at 03:03
Originally posted by Henry Plainview Henry Plainview wrote:

You're viewing it from the wrong angle, this generation hasn't produced any group as popular as Floyd or Zeppelin because the music scene has fragmented tremendously.


Actually, that's exactly what I meant to say: Today's generation of rock musicians mostly write music meant to be exclusively by and for small subcultures, which is the result of a process that began in the 1980s and doesn't look like it's slowing down. Wink

I might have formulated it in a long-winded way that was a bit hard to piece together. However, that was because I wanted to cut everything out in cardboard and provide a detailed explanation only for the whole OP to take much longer to write than I had expected, so I rushed the conclusion a bit. Confused
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 10 2009 at 08:21
Lacuna Coil are very popular in MTV Italy and ALL Music (another Italian musical TV)... But is this a merit?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 10 2009 at 08:29

Henry,

You crack me up.
 
My original point stands...it depends on what you count as rock.
 
All art depends on the artists before it. That doesn't detract from it. Just because Daltrey got old enough to see it just shows his arrogance. Did he think he was doing anything more original than any other generation? Certainly he wasn't.
 
In 1980 nothing resembling Gojira existed. In 1980 nothing resembling Maps and Atlases existed. But those bands do stand on the shoulders of musicians from those times who stand on early rockers who stand on country blues artists prior to electric instruments.
 
It is a common blindness to dismiss the creativity of those both older and younger than ourselves.
 
BTW, it was the Stones Henry.
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