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Why do prog artists peak out?

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Isa View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Isa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Why do prog artists peak out?
    Posted: July 14 2010 at 23:51
Why is it so common (and we all know it is) that so many of even the greatest prog bands and composers get better, peak out, then slump in their discography? Wouldn't your compositional skill improve with age?

I ask this because in my studies in music history, most of the classical greats, especially Beethoven, Bach, and Handel, only got better at composing as they got older, and many released their most profound works just before they died.

This seems even true for most of the great jazz artists, like John Coltrane, Miles Davis (before he sold out), and Herbie Hancock, all who continuously put out highly acclaimed works and played with great groups their whole lives.

I'm certainly not trying say these two genres are superior to prog. I'd say prog is anything as diverse and innovative in composition techniques as they are.

But why do prog bands, even the greatest and most commercially successful, burn out overtime, almost seemingly more often than not? Certainly there are some exceptions, but it seems more a general rule to peak at a certain point in the band or composer's career and the several albums after that never get better.

Maybe prog bands tend to have more friction between members? Then why not the jazz groups? Does prog try so hard to be unique and innovative that composers run out of their innovative ideas to fast? It's certainly a relevant and interesting question.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote TheOppenheimer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2010 at 00:06
it seems to me its the "lack of ideas" syndrome.

they put all they've got in their first work, and then they just compose whatever they find.

plus, they live in real life, after being 20, most of these guys get a job, a family, and so.

but still, id rather have it like that, that to listen to sh*tty music forever
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Kazuhiro Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2010 at 00:15

If we become the professional musicians and the activity of music is done, musician's feelings might be understood. However, I reject this opinion at once here.

The peak and the decline of the activity by the musician might be related to the market and the age concerning music. Of course, there might be friction and a dissension by the member, too.

Diversity by various exchanges and projects is felt by me for Jazz. Bands who announce only one album and dissolve are the perhaps street points. Or, there might be a part of which it burns out. This is a guess. However, the fan and the listener make the existence a legend.

The album that is not CD is a problem of the copyright and musician's intention perhaps. Or, when the person who owns the copyright is missing and a death. These might be one of the elements to do in the legend.

 

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Isa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2010 at 01:10
I was more referring to prog's "prolific" artists. Why can Beethoven or John Coltrane make a masterpiece at midlife and continue to have outputs afterward their whole lives that are hailed as the great works of their genre, whereas Yes, Rush, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd (especially), and a slew of other bands loose steam? Aren't you supposed to get better and more experienced at composition as you get older and do it more? It just really puzzles me. Confused


Edited by Isa - July 15 2010 at 01:11
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Kazuhiro Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2010 at 01:30

Please do not deteriorate feelingsSmile

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Henry Plainview Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2010 at 02:47
Well it's not fair to compare Beethoven and Coltrane to the vast majority of prog, because they are some of the rare geniuses of history, and unlike most musicians, their vision got more advanced and complex as they aged. Running out of ideas as you age past your 20s and 30s is much more the norm for the musicians of history. And you should also keep in mind that a lot of famous musicians tend to die young, so that skews your sample set. If you're an evolutionary psychologist, your suggestion would be that making music is a skill developed for finding a mate, and as you age you have less need for a mate and therefore your skill in music diminishes. But if you're an evolutionary psychologist you're probably also an idiot, so maybe that's not really relevant. ;-)

One thing to point out about the in-fighting of jazz versus rock, besides that jazz is the superior form of music :P, is that jazz tends to be much more focused on an individual's vision, and this is even more true for classical composers. It's easier to reduce friction when one person is the clear leader, and his name is on the cover of the album and if you don't like it you can leave. So Elvin Jones left Coltrane, and Mingus and Miles were jerks to their fellow musicians, but it's not the same as a power struggle in Pink Floyd.


Edited by Henry Plainview - July 15 2010 at 03:04
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Post Options Post Options   Quote jplanet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2010 at 02:59
Agreeing with Henry's point above, a lot of bands' sound relies on their ability to collaborate. And the most brilliant results of collaboration are often painful experiences for the individuals involved - ask any great band if they would want to go through what it took to write their greatest work all over again, and they usually say no.

Peter Gabriel composes pretty much on his own, and the quality of his work has been consistent - I'm sure there are other examples as well...Neal Morse, perhaps...
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Post Options Post Options   Quote cobb2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2010 at 03:15
Over time everyones mind becomes 'junctified' and creative juices solidify...
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Chris S Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2010 at 03:23
Originally posted by jplanet

Agreeing with Henry's point above, a lot of bands' sound relies on their ability to collaborate. And the most brilliant results of collaboration are often painful experiences for the individuals involved - ask any great band if they would want to go through what it took to write their greatest work all over again, and they usually say no.

Peter Gabriel composes pretty much on his own, and the quality of his work has been consistent - I'm sure there are other examples as well...Neal Morse, perhaps...
I have to agree with this as well with one exception being Peter Gabriel, yes his work is of high standard but seriously he releases one album every ten years. Us was ok IMO, Up an improvement, but Gabriel's run out of ideas, just think how prolific he was up to 1986. Not saying I am complaining but hardly San Jacinto or Biko.
I think musicians know when they peak but their passion to create surpasses what critics have to say.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Textbook Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2010 at 03:46
I reject the premise out of hand. It is not at all an established fact that all or most good prog musicians hit a plateau and deteriorate.
 
However, I think prog can be trickier to keep going because the number of ideas ratio is higher for prog than other bands. Many prog bands to in six minutes what another band would take 20-30 to do, by which I mean a conventional bands would take each 1-2 minute "segment of a compartmentalised epic and add bridges and repeat choruses/hooks and so on to make it its own song.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Blacksword Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2010 at 04:13
Originally posted by cobb2

Over time everyones mind becomes 'junctified' and creative juices solidify...


Indeed. I dont think it's any more complicated than that. Of course some bands just get lazy, or want to dumb down to appeal to a larger audience. I wont mention any names, but Genesis springs to mind..
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Chris S Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2010 at 04:16
^ You mean Dumbing UpWink
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Blacksword Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2010 at 04:18
^^^ Do I?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Icarium Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2010 at 04:32
Originally posted by Isa

Why is it so common (and we all know it is) that so many of even the greatest prog bands and composers get better, peak out, then slump in their discography? Wouldn't your compositional skill improve with age?

I ask this because in my studies in music history, most of the classical greats, especially Beethoven, Bach, and Handel, only got better at composing as they got older, and many released their most profound works just before they died.

This seems even true for most of the great jazz artists, like John Coltrane, Miles Davis (before he sold out), and Herbie Hancock, all who continuously put out highly acclaimed works and played with great groups their whole lives.

I'm certainly not trying say these two genres are superior to prog. I'd say prog is anything as diverse and innovative in composition techniques as they are.

But why do prog bands, even the greatest and most commercially successful, burn out overtime, almost seemingly more often than not? Certainly there are some exceptions, but it seems more a general rule to peak at a certain point in the band or composer's career and the several albums after that never get better.

Maybe prog bands tend to have more friction between members? Then why not the jazz groups? Does prog try so hard to be unique and innovative that composers run out of their innovative ideas to fast? It's certainly a relevant and interesting question.
 
becouse prog bands consists of more then one guy, and all want their inputt on the creativety three, four or five different voices are ought to be heard, wile youre mentiond classical and jazz musicians were solo artists which had only themselvs to relay on not a band or symphnonie, and they had only themselvs to improve not three, four or five others. it is more logical to compere those atists with solo singer/sonwriters like Elton John, David Bowie, Meat Loaf, Joe Jackson, Paul Simon, and their likes which have only themself to relay on.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote friso Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2010 at 04:59
Very interesting discussion here! There are a lot of different explanations for different artists I suppose. Some might really run out of ideas, but I think there is often more to it. When reading interviews with members of famous prog-bands I often read that there are one or two members in a band that really want the music to be progressive and innovative. Most of the time other band-members have little interest in innovation, they want to make a living by playing music.

The selling-out behavior of bands has always been disliked in this community, but for smaller bands it's a way to keep doing what they like. It's almost impossible to be a band like early VdGG with several near-bankruptcies whilst creating some of the best prog ever. Prog often isn't practical at all! Many musicians in the classic prog period had to make a change in direction, otherwise they would have had to search for normal jobs outside the music-biz.

Yes really severed from the eighties and would have lost their contracts if they refused to go commercial, Genesis was torn apart by essential members leaving (and having Collins willing to sell out), Pink Floyd feared becoming a relic of the past, Gentle Giant was torn apart by the lack of a market for their music and even Jehtro Tull changed their music to fit in with the new desires of the public.

Conclusion. Their's a need for a certain environment in which progressive groups are encouraged to be innovative.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote chopper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2010 at 07:02
An artist's peak is subjective anyway e.g. it may be generally accepted that Yes peaked at, say, CTTE but some people might think they peaked with "Magnification".
 
I suspect age is another factor. Beethoven et al were composers rather than touring performers.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Blacksword Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2010 at 07:05
Originally posted by friso

Very interesting discussion here! There are a lot of different explanations for different artists I suppose. Some might really run out of ideas, but I think there is often more to it. When reading interviews with members of famous prog-bands I often read that there are one or two members in a band that really want the music to be progressive and innovative. Most of the time other band-members have little interest in innovation, they want to make a living by playing music.

The selling-out behavior of bands has always been disliked in this community, but for smaller bands it's a way to keep doing what they like. It's almost impossible to be a band like early VdGG with several near-bankruptcies whilst creating some of the best prog ever. Prog often isn't practical at all! Many musicians in the classic prog period had to make a change in direction, otherwise they would have had to search for normal jobs outside the music-biz.

Yes really severed from the eighties and would have lost their contracts if they refused to go commercial, Genesis was torn apart by essential members leaving (and having Collins willing to sell out), Pink Floyd feared becoming a relic of the past, Gentle Giant was torn apart by the lack of a market for their music and even Jehtro Tull changed their music to fit in with the new desires of the public.

Conclusion. Their's a need for a certain environment in which progressive groups are encouraged to be innovative.


Agreed. Bands need to move with the times to some degree in order to survive commericially. Some bands are better at this than others, in that they remain fairly innovative.

I think Yes are a good example of this. Whatever anyone thinks of 90125, it sounded fresh, contemporary, and at the same time nothing else sounded like it. Genesis failed in this regard with some of their 80's efforts. There was a few good songs on those pop albums, but by and large many of them were interchangeble with Collin's solo output. Although Banks insisted the Genesis trademarks were there if you 'looked for them' I think that was the problem; one had to go 'looking' for them.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote tarkus1980 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2010 at 08:09
"There was a few good songs on those pop albums, but by and large many of them were interchangeble with Collin's solo output. "
 
"Many" is a vast overstatement; the issue of Collins' solo career bleeding into Genesis didn't become a serious problem until We Can't Dance (when the issue became inescapable). In the other 80's albums, how many of the songs could have really passed as Collins solo, regardless of quality? From Duke, there's probably "Misunderstanding" and "Please Don't Ask."  From Abacab, there's just "Man on the Corner."  From Genesis, there's the middle section of "It's Gonna Get Better" and maybe "Taking it All Too Hard," maybe.   And from IT, putting aside production issues (which is where the Collins similarities are greatest on that album), there's "In Too Deep" and ... pretty much nothing else.
 
So really, there's a grand total of half a dozen tracks from the 80's albums that could have been Collins solo, and even those aren't all 100% certain.


Edited by tarkus1980 - July 15 2010 at 08:10
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Anonamoose52 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2010 at 08:54
I really agree with what Friso has to say here. Prog is a difficult genre to crack because it's never quite been mainstream. (But that's why we love it eh?) Many Prog masters were "enigmatic geniuses" making them very difficult to work with, IE Waters, Wakeman, Emerson, etc. However, I think the deeper problem lies in the Prog community itself. Prog fans, generally, are more knowledgeable about music than some other genres, which is why we can appreciate such deep works. However, this also makes us more critical. When a band releases a great work, a "magnum opus", all of their later work will be compared side by side with it, often times with the newer work in a negative light. (Look at Pink Floyd, everything is compared to DSOTM or The Wall, though The Final Cut was inexcusable) This is a mistake! Yes's recent releases, (Magnification) Dream Theater (Black Clouds and Silver Linings) and others are all great works. We must view new works objectively to truly appreciate them. 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Blacksword Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2010 at 09:18
Originally posted by tarkus1980

"There was a few good songs on those pop albums, but by and large many of them were interchangeble with Collin's solo output. "
 

"Many" is a vast overstatement; the issue of Collins' solo career bleeding into Genesis didn't become a serious problem until We Can't Dance (when the issue became inescapable). In the other 80's albums, how many of the songs could have really passed as Collins solo, regardless of quality? From Duke, there's probably "Misunderstanding" and "Please Don't Ask."  From Abacab, there's just "Man on the Corner."  From Genesis, there's the middle section of "It's Gonna Get Better" and maybe "Taking it All Too Hard," maybe.   And from IT, putting aside production issues (which is where the Collins similarities are greatest on that album), there's "In Too Deep" and ... pretty much nothing else.

 

So really, there's a grand total of half a dozen tracks from the 80's albums that could have been Collins solo, and even those aren't all 100% certain.


Ok, many was an exageration, but there are more than you mention, imo. 'Throwing it all away' 'Anything she does' 'No reply at all' 'Alone Tonight' and even the verses of 'Fading Lights' (great song all the same). I think Collins even covered 'Behind the Lines' on a solo album. But, the whole character of the bands sound and approach to songwriting did change, and one of those principle changes was a relative simplicity in the arrangements which when married to that horrible production, came across as pop music which was a million miles from their prog output.
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