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Rock & Roll is to Jazz as Punk is to Prog...

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    Posted: April 28 2010 at 17:56
I was posting this to the Future of Rock thread when it occurs to me that this opinion just might be controversial enough to deserve a thread of its own.
 
Today's ProgRockers actually have more in common with Jazz music fans than we do with the early pioneers of "Rock and Roll". 
 
Before you over-react... I'm not saying that ProgRock has more in common with Jazz than it does with rock and roll musically - although it sometimes does...
 
I'm submitting the notion that ProgRock fans and musicians have more in common with Jazz fans and musicians than they do with general rock fans and musicians
 
I'm saying that the very essence of ProgRock - Prog's 'soul' so to speak - has more in common with Jazz than it does with Rock and Roll. 
 
Admittedly, one could certainly insert many other types of music for "Jazz" in the above statements... (Classical for instance...)  And the overall point remains the same.  Rock music is in our pedigree.  But we don't need to get too worked up over whether today's "rock" music is very vital or intelligent or creative, etc.   
 
But there is a reason I chose to insert "Jazz" rather than Baroque or Serialism or Minimalism in the sentence.  I did it because it calls attention to the fact that rock music's very roots trace back to a punk-ish type minimalist reactionary movement against a "bloated", "overly complex" and "self-important" style of music called Jazz.  Rock and roll as a movement deliberately dissed high calliber musicianship and complex structures for the sake of energy, enthusiasm and simple minded fun.
 
When Rock and Roll was born, it was a major step *backwards* in terms of the "thinking man's" music.  Indeed - rock music was perceived as a sea-change that lowered the intellectual bar in general.
 
Sincere jazz enthusiast Marian McPartland once confessed "I was so afraid rock & roll was going to kill jazz that I went into the schools. I couldn't fight rock & roll but I wanted kids to know that there's another music."
 
Marian is 92 years young btw... This week she is featuring Jazz Fusion pianist HIROMI on her show Piano Jazz.  It will be warm, personal, intelligent... And this *jazz* fan will be sincerely impressed with this FUSION artist. 
 
Which only reinforces my point that today's ProgRockers have more in common with Jazz music fans than we do with the early pioneers of "Rock and Roll".
 
So - go ahead and die "rock and roll".  You had a good life! 
 
LONG LIVE PROG!
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Atavachron Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 28 2010 at 18:34
 ^ nice story, though I'd say that's more a triumph for the power of music and of Jazz artists than an indication "todays ProgRockers have more in common with Jazz music fans than early R'nR pioneers".  Most real Jazz listeners I know don't care for or really know about 'Prog rock'--  if I mention Pink Floyd or Jethro Tull they'll know the name or a few familiar cuts.   But I would tend to agree with much of what you assert, and find as much of a 'jazz-like' approach in Prog, a progressive mindset with the room to improvise both toward finished composition as well as spontaneously, as a love of the rock sound.   I would also agree that Prog as a music has more in common with Jazz and it's history than with classical, from which it tends to merely borrow ideas or formats.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The Wrinkler Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 28 2010 at 19:12
I kind of get what you're saying, that Prog has more to do with Jazz than Rock and roll? But to me, I think Rock and Roll elements is that urge to want to bang your head, or just go into that air guitar or keyboard solo that you wish you could do, and Prog makes me feel like that...LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Proletariat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 28 2010 at 23:02
Wow great logical post! really got me thinking
For Example: jazz eventually fused with rock creating jazz rock... in the same way that prog eventually fused with punk creating math rock, mars volta, much of modern prog. So perhaps what seperates prog and jazz from punk and rock and even classical is that they exude elitism and technicality and yet do not isolate from the rest of music (as does classical) Also both prog and jazz run the gambit from too far out for most people (free jazz, avant, RIO, zheul) to relitivily accessable (smooth jazz, swing, crossover prog, early canterburry pop and art pop) 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote harmonium.ro Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 29 2010 at 07:33
I don't agree, most prog fans arrived to prog via normal rock, pop-rock and pop, and most of them still enjoy music from all these genres. Suffice to read the discussions on the forums to figure this out, especially in the General Music Discussions sub-forum. Also, though the jazz connection is acknowledged in the prog-world, there aren't that many progheads who listen to jazz on a regular basis, and even less who are jazz-heads at the same time... Those are really few. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote progpositivity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 29 2010 at 14:02

Most jazz fans (under the age of say 70 years old) arrived to jazz via "normal" mainstream styles of popular music as well.  Pop, pop-rock, pop, soul, R&B and many other styles.  Indeed jazz has sub-genres that are "melting pots" of various crossovers from popular music.  (Admittedly some jazz fans move from pure devotion to classical music over to jazz for the freedom, but most classical fans also enjoy "normal" mainstream styles of popular music at the same time that they enjoy classical so they metaphorically are standing in two places at the same time so to speak.  Often even they arrive to jazz via "normal" mainstream popular styles as well.)

 

The bigger picture of what I’m trying to say, however, is that both forms absorb other influences and tend to celebrate complexity and virtuosity (while not requiring either).  Punk and ‘Rock and Roll’ were both minimalist movements that “dumbed down” the prevailing form of popular music.

 

Punk was supposed to kill Prog – and after a short stint of notoriety failed miserably.

Rock and Roll was supposed to kill Jazz – and despite a long run of popularity – failed to kill Jazz.

 

Jazz morphs and adapts to new influences.  So does Prog. 

 

I understand that 60’s and 70’s rock has a certain appeal to us Prog Fans.  It does to me too.  That is a musical similarity.  But it is only “skin deep”.

 

When it comes to Prog’s soul, its personality so to speak, it is more like Jazz than it is like Rock and Roll.

 

And Prog retains the expressive energy it got from rock music independent of whether mainstream rock music thrives with creative ambition in the 21st Century.

 

As such, I really think it is quite a waste of time and energy to wring our hands worrying about mainstream rock not living up to its creative potential.  It is almost absurd to treat *rock* as some sacred pinnacle of artistic merit from which we are inevitably declining into totally crappiness.  Music styles "tear down" and then 'build up" in slightly different directions only to "tear down" the status quo and rebuild again and again.

 
Each generation tends to bemoan the next generation’s music as devoid of artistic merit.   If new music is too different from our preconceived expectations (electronica as an example) we tend to tune it out and say it isn’t “rock”.  If it is too similar to our generation's form of mainstream music we say it “isn’t doing anything *new*”. 
 
Let’s face it, when we were 12 to 16 years old, everything sounded much newer to us – just like it does to the younger people of today!  Now that we are older, almost none of the mainstream stuff sounds new.

 



Edited by progpositivity - April 29 2010 at 14:03
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote progpositivity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 29 2010 at 14:55
Originally posted by Proletariat Proletariat wrote:

Wow great logical post! really got me thinking
For Example: jazz eventually fused with rock creating jazz rock... in the same way that prog eventually fused with punk creating math rock, mars volta, much of modern prog.
 
Yes!  Punk couldn't truly *kill* prog any more than Rock n' Roll could kill Jazz!  From the stripped down rubble of Rock and Roll emerged art-rock and progrock and jazzrock.  From the anarchy of Punk emerged new wave, art rock, math rock and modern prog. 
 
Originally posted by Proletariat Proletariat wrote:

So perhaps what seperates prog and jazz from punk and rock and even classical is that they exude elitism and technicality and yet do not isolate from the rest of music (as does classical) Also both prog and jazz run the gambit from too far out for most people (free jazz, avant, RIO, zheul) to relitivily accessable (smooth jazz, swing, crossover prog, early canterburry pop and art pop) 
 
Good point about Classical.  It didn't always isolate itself.  And pop composers like Danny Elfman and minimalist composers don't isolate themselves.  But - by and large - most of Classical music does tend to isolate itself from the popular mainstream. 
 
Proletariat - How did you manage to say in just a few sentences what it took me paragraph upon paragraph to say"?  Wink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Proletariat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 30 2010 at 18:26
Originally posted by progpositivity progpositivity wrote:

 
Proletariat - How did you manage to say in just a few sentences what it took me paragraph upon paragraph to say"?  Wink
Longer sentancesWink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tamijo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 02 2010 at 02:10
In my mind its mainstream money making factory music - against Art.
 
Great music will be made in any genre, so will crap.
Prog is whatevey you want it to be. So dont diss other peoples prog, and they wont diss yours
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote uduwudu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 05 2010 at 02:40
All genres of music exist to present a form of music that another cannot. Classical progressed technologically for example. Beethoven had to have his metal pianos - the wooden ones couldn't take the pressure. What is classiucal now is the art form of popular songs from the Renaissance era to early 20th Century. It moved from vbeing religious and church oriented to the personal - Beethoven almost single handedly created the the basis from which all personal music would emerge. Okay, he was a miserable sod (great composer) who got too stuffy (humourless) about his own opera Fidelio. Thankfully he limited that to just one.

But rock and roll was a fusion of country and blues. It had to progress, live or die, it's your choice. We want to play a game... no, that's something else... So rock became more sophisticated. But it wasn't heartless, negative and hopelessly nihilistic as punk. It was about songs, youth and freedom. Punk was about no future. Great - what now?

But jazz was also born from the blues. Ragtime was an incredibly ambitious form of music. Scott Joplin was a very ambitious writer and it took a long time for the public to cotton on to his ideas. From there you get the Gershwins and Berlins and the jazz song - the Great American Songbook.

There was the great musicians - for some obscure rerason we seem to think the more developed a muso is the less he is in touch with "the kids" "the street." Et-tedium-cetera. Punk seemed to have this idea that kids couldn't dig the Floyd. This was when Floyd were going stratospheric - who was doing the listening then? Ask Rog - he was spitting on them. Oddly something he had in common with the punks.

But rock told Beethoven to roll over; a new music was in town. But if rock does not progress - move, it will die.

We should npot get confused between pop (a much older form) and rock. They have merged of course. In fact I'd say prog as we know it probably came from the more formal swing / pop (Tin Pan Alley) via the Beach Boys and Beatles than blues and hard rock. IMHO the first prog rock album was Days Of Future Passed. Not a whole lotta blues on that album Nor with KC, Yes, Genesis. Tull moved into a jazz rock folk melange - the blues was too limiting for Jethro and his merry men.

Anyway when it comes to elitism and snobbery there were few more obnoxious than Rotten and his punks. They actually had the gall to tell people not only what to listen to, but what NOT to listen to. These guys couldn't even play their own material, frankly I found punk embarrassing. Did Vicious and co seriously expect a PF fan to realise he was being taken for a ride and bliss out to Never Mind the Bollocks? (Not that he was on that album... and I have heard my fair share of punk. Indeed I even have a Magazine compilation and some new wave MP3s. Not too bad among 2500 plus albums / boots.

I do wonder what would have happened without punk. I do understand there must be friction between genres but with the intent to create. But prog rock probably would have developed it's off shoots more.

There. Just some comments in many paragraphs 'n' sentences. I do like prog rock and it shows when I start to type.

And hey... I love jazz. Charlie Parker did a version of Be Bop A Lula (not exactly recognisable.) But jazz was hardly ever about rebelling (beyond black Americans trying to establish a cultural identity in conservative white America.) It was about being not about bitching. There is far more to love in jazz (though I tend to go for Bop, Cool and Fusion (and standards if played by Joe Pass.)

All this typed to the sounds of Rush. We're only immortal for a limited time...

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dick Heath Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 05 2010 at 06:40
Interesting comments, but are these written from the viewpoint of an nth genration progr fan, rather than how we first generation fans heard the evolution of progressive music and then a step change around 1971/2?
 
From around 1965 this new popular music form called 'rock' - as opposed to 'rock'n'rock' but not a name immediately taken up in all English speaking territories - got itself fused with allsorts of other musical genre: blues, jazz and serious/classical being the most common companions. Listen to early Nice and Soft Machine - while the Moody Blues found themselves with a full studio orchestra (previously used - I believe - for film scores and Decca Record's pop classical releases on their Phase 4 label) for Days. So I don't see an isolation of prog music from jazz, because for a number of bands, particularly during 1967-1972 include jazz improv, instrumentals, rhythms .etc. to augment their varying forms of  rock. Inevitably, some group pushed the balance to be more in favour of jazz than rock (e.g. Soft Machine) while some jazz musicians came from the opposite direction, notably Tony Williams followed by Miles Davis. To me Zappa's Hot Rats showed the first seamlessness between jazz and rock - while bands such as Tasavallan Presidentti, did rock verse/choruses but then played jazz solo instrumentals.  
 
I think 1971 was an especially fruitful period of investigation, when rock musicians were pushing the boundaries fusing rock with genres x or y or x and y. Listen to the first Patto or Stud albums, recorded in 1971 and you'll discover (fairly typically) bands offering LPs of tunes that varied rom one track to the next, one moment playing rock, next jazz, next folk, etc.. But it is worth noting many of these bands either didn't survive to the second recording or decided to become (heavy) rock bands and not take the prog route (which their first albums might have indicated as an option).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote King Crimson776 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 05 2010 at 18:16
Originally posted by harmonium.ro harmonium.ro wrote:

I don't agree, most prog fans arrived to prog via normal rock, pop-rock and pop, and most of them still enjoy music from all these genres. Suffice to read the discussions on the forums to figure this out, especially in the General Music Discussions sub-forum. Also, though the jazz connection is acknowledged in the prog-world, there aren't that many progheads who listen to jazz on a regular basis, and even less who are jazz-heads at the same time... Those are really few. 

And from prog they often get into jazz and classical, like I did. I would say there are more people like that than you think. But likely you won't go from jazz to prog, but prog to jazz like I said.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote progpositivity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 05 2010 at 19:57
Originally posted by King Crimson776 King Crimson776 wrote:


And from prog they often get into jazz and classical, like I did. I would say there are more people like that than you think. But likely you won't go from jazz to prog, but prog to jazz like I said.
 
Our definition of prog includes so much popular music (indeed even the definition of 'rock' is so wide-reaching in scope) that for someone to truely "go from jazz to prog" they would have to have virutally bypassed pop/rock altogether.  
 
Since "Rock" is such a wide-reaching genre of popular music...  And since it isn't very easy to really get into popular rock music without rubbing shoulders with some quantity of art-rock or crossover prog along the way, it really limits the size of the "Classical to Prog" and the "Jazz to Prog" funnels so to speak.
 
Perhaps a few people grew up in a household where their parents only allowed them to listen to classical music?  I met someone like that once.  But if they are adventurous enough to expand into jazz, don't be surprised if they start rummaging around in rock & progrock too. 
 
I suppose someone could grow up listening to R&B and move on to jazz without visiting *rock* along the way.  They might never get the itch to check out prog... 
 
I guess it is theoretically possible that a person could grow up listening to soft rock hits and move on to jazz without visiting *rock* along the way.  (But I suspect that most soft rock listeners who are ambitious enough to graduate to jazz would have more naturally taken a moment to review at least a little adventurous rock music along the way...)
 
Hip-Hop, Soul and/or Funk listeners perhaps?  I could see some Funk listeners graduate to Tower of Power, Earth Wind and Fire, and then into Jazz while bypassing rock altogether...  I don't know how many of them would ever snatch a prog interest.
 
Anyhow...  starting with this smaller group of people who got into jazz or classical music without first gaining at least some amount of exposure to and appreciation for "rock" music first... 
 
I think Jazzers would tend to explore Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Return to Forever first... and then get pulled into some form of progrock interest from that direction...
 
My experience has been that Classical music fans often enjoy listening to popular forms of music as well.   So I think they could have discovered prog through early Ambrosia albums, Wendy Carlos' Switched on Bach... The number of ways they could stumble across progginess is almost endless...   They might not be too patient with much of it.  But the best of it could perk their ears up from time to time.
 
I had a friend who got two University degrees in music... He led orchestra, etc...  So he was really into the formal classical music.  But through his music studies in college, he was also interested in Medieval Folk, Jazz, Fusion... also King Crimson, Genesis and Gentle Giant.  I do not think this is too unusual for students of music.


Edited by progpositivity - May 05 2010 at 19:59
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote freyacat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 11 2010 at 15:09
It's a good analogy, and there's another dimension to it.
 
Jazz remains a living music, though fans are divided among camps of differing opinion about what the most living form of the music is.  And the lines tend to be drawn around instrumentation.
 
Some jazz music continues exploring by incorporating elements of rock, world music, and electronica.  Other jazz music continues with acoustic instruments and a more traditional band set-up, but continues developing the voice that came of age with Miles Davis and John Coltrane.  In the latter category, artists are often promoted as being the successor to so-and-so's sound.
 
In the same way, progressive rock remains a living music among it's minority fan base.  But there are different camps, separated most obviously by issues of instrumentation.
 
One camp saw a new evolutionary line in the development of prog-metal, and welcomes the rhythms, timbre, and language of today's hardest music.  Keyboards take the role of virtuoso soloist, a la Dream Theater, or of ambient soundscapes, a la Porcupine Tree.
 
Another camp sees merit in continuing to develop the voice that came of age with Yes, Genesis, and King Crimson.  The musicians favored by this camp hunt down old mellotrons and tube amps, and continue to compose 20 minute songs.
 
In both cases, a form of music which was once mainstream has continued devloping for a much smaller and more refined fan base.  And even those modern artists who make their career with a traditional sound benefit greatly from the internet's ability to connect minority fans with minority musicians. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rpraborn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 12 2010 at 16:17
Thats one of the things i like about prog.. its a mix, jazz,rock,classical, just whatever. it is one of the more free forms of music to listen too, however takes the discipine of a jazz or classical musician to play. It aint easy to write and perform like rock but if you take rock out of prog then you have lost a key element to its coolness.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 14 2010 at 23:34
One big hurdle to this theory is that just as jazz fans are not particularly interested in prog, I wouldn't say prog fans are particularly interested in jazz. The ones who get really into jazz fusion or Canterbury, maybe...but not so much the neo-symph or prog metal preffering fans.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 14 2010 at 23:42
Originally posted by uduwudu uduwudu wrote:



I do wonder what would have happened without punk. I do understand there must be friction between genres but with the intent to create. But prog rock probably would have developed it's off shoots more.





Yes,  I wonder too. It's not like I hate punk...actually as a metalhead I like a lot of the punk that crosses over a bit into metal. But I do feel it introduced needless segregation and division and may have been single handedly responsible for the multitude of redundant genres we have today.  Musicians should just be happy to play in their own style and approach, what is the need for crucification?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dr Clovenhoof Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 16 2010 at 11:20

Just to respond to the suggestion that jazz fans don't know or care too much about prog - I am primarily a jazz fan, but prog rock is the only other type of music that I am seriously interested in. I suspect I'm not alone in this. Just as many prog artists (and not just the jazz fusion ones) were influenced by jazz, If you listen to members of many of the contempory jazz acts  (Acoustic Ladyland, Led Bib, Fulborn Teversham, Polar Bear, the Necks) talk about their influences, they often refer to prog bands.

Like the original poster, I don't  mean to suggest there is necessarily any overlap or crossover between jazz music and prog music (although there often is) but many of the elements that define prog music are also true of jazz and vice versa.
 
Both are complex and often inaccessible musical genres. They include lengthy instrumental pieces, are often experimental and thrive on a tension between structured composition and free improvisation. Perhaps most importantly neither kind of music is primarily written for dancing to, singing along to or as background wallpaper music (although some of both are used for all these things!). Its music for listening to. For that reason on a day like today when I will spend most of the day at my computer the music I play will vary between jazz and prog but not include catchy pop or banging techno. Of course not all jazz fans will like prog music and not all prog fans will like jazz, but fundamentally they are the same kind of people.
 
In fact, in many ways, jazz brough me back to prog rock. Growing up in the seventies I didn't have much access to jazz and didn't like what I heard, so prog music was my first love. The eighties were not a great time for prog fans though and I gradually drifted away from that scene. When I really discovered jazz  that became my main musical interest until I realised that prog music had all the elements I liked about jazz music plus better cover art so here I am.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote silcir Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 29 2010 at 04:30
Nah, as a Prog fan i must say that i couldn't live without rock!
I don't care about how highly jazz fans usually think they stand, i do have some friends who only listen to jazz and think that's the only good thing in the world, the rest being all crap, nah, 'you'r of idiots' that's what i say to them.

I like to believe that prog fans are more open minded into accepting what's good in other genres, not really worrying about how hard or simple or short or long are the pieces of music. ( seeing the first post i'm probably wrong, but still...)

i like prog, rock, punk and jazz. though i listen more to the first 2, i don't desdain the following.
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