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How to define and classify progressive rock?

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David_D View Drop Down
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    Posted: October 26 2010 at 15:49

 

 

                    HOW TO DEFINE AND CLASSIFY PROGRESSIVE ROCK?  (V3)

 

 

What can be regarded as a global Prog community often makes use of several, or even quite a lot, different sub-genres of Progressive Rock, but is it also possible to give some theoretical grounds for doing so?

 

By DAVID HELIN, November 2010

 

The subject of what has to be considered as Progressive Rock has surely been one of the big battles in the history of the genre, and still seems to need a lot of more clarifying. It also seems to me as a rather large part of the debating has somehow had wrong starting point and because of that, has not been particular fruitful.

    How so? Well, I think that many of the discussions made assumed Progressive Rock to be a certain music, and then the involved parts could not agree whether, for instance, a certain band, let us say Pink Floyd, played this kind of music. But in my opinion, we have to start with understanding Progressive Rock as first and foremost a word, a term, and then, depending on how we define this term, we can determine whether a certain band can be characterized as progressive or not.

 

What is it all about?

 

I better explain this further because, before trying to make a definition, it is a very good idea to have a quite clear notion of what all this defining business actually is about and what shall be the theoretical purpose of it. So, let us start to state that the concrete reality of the music world consists, among other things, of bands (or solo artists, but for convenience’s sake, let us just say bands), each playing in some way different music. Some parts of these bands have certain similarities and a part play even very similar kind of music. These similarities can be described and named, or labeled. As we surely know, many musicians for different reasons don’t like being labeled, but for fans and other persons interested in music, it can be very convenient to have terms to describe different kinds of music. And if these terms have to be useful in a good way, we need to define them more or less precisely.

    To define them means to classify or to bring in, in our heads, some order and get a general view of the concrete reality of the very complex world of bands and different music; and it is, as already mentioned, like to invent some labels which we can use to describe the music being played. These labels can have different sizes, so they either can be small and only used in connection with those bands who play very similar kind of music -- in that case we talk about narrow definitions. Or they can be larger and used with less similar bands and then called broader definitions.

    Making definitions, we also try to put focus on or demarcate a specific part of the concrete reality of the music world, and depending on whether our definitions are narrow or broad, the demarcated parts are smaller or bigger. When we have made a specific definition by clarifying which criteria shall be applied by using a certain term, for instance progressive rock, we can in principle more or less exactly decide which bands we are talking about; and then further find out what is specific about these bands and their music. So, as regards to the very beginning of this article, I will conclude here that all the discussions of the characteristics of Progressive Rock have to start with the question of the definition of the genre.

    Two more aspects are needed to be mentioned in these initial considerations: 1. The question of the definitions in general, and concerning Prog-Rock in particular, is in my opinion to some extent a matter of, if not just taste, certainly some subjective preferences, especially as regards whether to use a more narrow or a broader way of defining – which is very important for my approach. On the other hand, it cannot be said to be arbitrary, so one definition is as good as another. A good definition must possess inner obvious logic and coherence, just as some definitions can be more practical and have other advantages comparing with other definitions.

    2. The process of defining can be very complex. When a definition is made, it has to be evaluated with that part of reality it is supposed to concern, which I guess in most cases leads to some need of improvement, evaluating again, and so on. In connection with music styles, the process must be still on-going due to the never ending changes of the music over the time. So, all of you theoretically minded friends welcome to a show that never ends.

 

Some definitions made/used in the past

 

Looking now at some definitions made/used in the past, the main books written in English, which have attempted to describe progressive rock as a genre, seem to be:

Edward Macan: Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture. Oxford University Press 1997.

Paul Stump: The Music’s All that Matters: A History of Progressive Rock. Quartet Books 1997.

Bill Martin: Listening to the Future: The time of progressive rock, 1968-1978. Open Court 1998.

Jerry Lucky: The Progressive Rock Files. Collector’s Guide Publishing 2000.

    To start with, Edward Macan, who indeed offers the most thorough analysis of his subject, in the matter of definition and as the title of the book suggests, Macan sticks to the tradition which limits progressive rock to being symphonic rock; that is “…mainly a classical/rock fusion with some folk and jazz elements included…” (p. 27).  It has to be added though that even as Macan considers Jazz-Rock and Folk-Rock as styles different from Progressive (Symphonic) Rock, he finds some parts of them to be related to the latter. This applies to a lesser extent to some of Heavy Metal, too, and avant-garde electronic music and Minimalism (pp. 126-143).

    Paul Stump’s definition has rather different focus point than Macan’s and finds similarities among progressive bands in what he calls shared ideology: in their considering themselves as not just musicians but as artists “…driven by high Romantic notions of personal expression and originality, individual authenticity, honesty and similar praiseworthy universals.” (p. 10). The term Progressive contains also in Stump’s point of view the phenomenon that the music is in a state of permanent evolution. This way of regarding Progressive Rock allows Stump to apply much broader musical scope than Macan, including some bands playing Jazz-Rock, Folk-Fock, Avant-Prog, Space-Rock and even a bit of Electronic Rock. On the other hand, I would say it is more precise and can be altogether better to define Prog-Rock by means of music styles, like Macan does.

    Bill Martin’s criteria for qualifying the genre results in an almost as broad musical scope as Stump’s, except from Electronic Rock. Also in a way similarly to Stump, he has some claims that the music has to be visionary and played “…by musicians who have consummate instrumental and compositional skills…” (p. 121) - that is, in fact, be virtuosos. Further, Martin considers Progressive Rock as in its core a phenomenon of English culture, which he, by the way, shares with Macan and Stump, and “…expressive of romantic and prophetic aspects of that culture.” (p. 121). Should the latter be used as criteria in the definition of Progressive Rock, it will of course limit the genre quite a lot.

    The last of the here presented authors, Jerry Lucky, defines Prog-Rock by means of 10 strictly musical criteria (4th edition, p. 132, 133). They offer indeed a very precise definition as they are very specific, concerning the type of styles, compositions, arrangements and instruments used. Looking at his book as a whole, it is not quite obvious for me which styles Lucky will include under the banner of Progressive Rock. I’m afraid though, his 10 claims, if all or maybe even just most of them to be fulfilled, will exclude a quite large part of the experimental rock music.

 

The possibility of a broad definition

 

Even as the four authors have quite a lot in common in their description of Progressive Rock, as it can be seen of my short account, their definitions of the genre are rather different. On the other hand, if they have to be compared to what quite often is considered as Progressive Rock in what might be called “the global Prog community”, one thing can in my opinion be concluded: their definitions are more narrow, and I think it is also the case with most books written on the genre; including maybe the latest in Charles Snider’s The Strawberry Bricks Guide to Progressive Rock (2007), even though this guide reviews other music than Snider defines as Prog-Rock, too.

    Nevertheless, the broader “Prog community definition,” as, for instance, used but not really formulated in the co-founder of ProgArchives, Ronald Couture’s Essential Mini-Guide to Progressive Rock: Past & Present (2006), have obvious advantages: it includes more different music and makes “the Prog movement” wider and thus stronger. On that account, the interesting question needs to be answered: is it possible to formulate and argue for a broad definition of Progressive Rock?

    Well, as it already could appear from my initial considerations, that is my conviction and what I will try to begin in this article. For that purpose, let us first have a look at the following styles: Symphonic Rock, Jazz-Rock, Folk-Rock, the more experimental Electronic Rock and Avant-Prog. What do they all have in common? You probably already know it: as their names suggest, they are all a synthesis of Rock and very pronounced elements from mainly one of some other main genres, namely Classical Music, Jazz, Folk and the electronic avant-garde or other avant-garde music, respectively. And should all these Rock styles be a part of Progressive Rock, must that kind of synthesis be one of the criteria of the definition. Krautrock, Zeuhl and the more avant-garde influenced part of Post-Rock can be characterized in the same way except from, they are typically more eclectic. 

    So far so good, but at this point I guess there are a huge number of Prog aficionados who miss Progressive Metal and some Psychedelic Rock here. Well, that is no problem because the syntheses of Rock and the other main styles mentioned above give possibilities for these styles, too – Progressive Metal being mainly a synthesis of Heavy Metal and Symphonic Rock/Classical Music, while Progressive Psychedelic surely is a synthesis of Psychedelic Rock, but then, there are different possibilities: electronic avant-garde, Folk, Jazz and others.

    Now we have got really a lot of different music to offer, but as a matter of fact, too much. That is because the criterion suggested so far includes all kinds of, for instance, Jazz-Rock, Folk-Rock and Space-Rock, and thus a lot of almost mainstream music, which an average Proghead does not seem to be interested in. Therefore, I will further suggest an additional criterion for some music to be labeled Progressive Rock, and that shall be that the music is rather complex or at least to some extent experimental in another way than argued so far.

    OK, if we now in all have enough precise instruments to determine what kind of music we would like to have under our banner is of course a question that will have to be tested in practice. But I suppose everything looks rather OK for a start, except from one problem. Not so few bands play music which is very difficult, if at all, to fit into one of the styles/sub-genres mentioned so far because they are more eclectic and mix several different styles. Therefore, we need an additional sub-genre which can be named Eclectic Prog to label those kind of bands.

 

The proposal

 

Then, I can summarize:

I will propose that some music to be called Progressive Rock has to:

1. be a synthesis of Rock and at least one of the other main genres: Classical, Jazz, Folk, electronic avant-garde or other avant-garde, AND

2. be rather complex or at least to some extent experimental in another way than #1.

”electronic avant-garde” is here primarily Musique Concrete and Minimalism while ”other avant-garde” include Free and Avant-Jazz and Contemporary Classical.

        Further, I propose following main sub-genres:

* Symphonic Prog, incl. Neo-Symphonic (Neo-Prog)

* Progressive Jazz-Rock, incl. most of Canterbury

* Progressive Folk-Rock, defined as Rock fused with Traditional/Folk music from any country in the entire world

* Electronic Prog

* Avant-Prog/RIO and Zeuhl

* Psychedelic Prog, incl. Progressive Space-Rock

* Progressive Metal, defined as all the sub-genres of Heavy Metal which can be considered Progressive

* Eclectic Prog

* Krautrock

and finally

* Progressive Post-Rock, defined as the more avant-garde influenced part of Post-Rock

   and Prog is here of course short for Progressive Rock.

 

What have we then got?

 

I believe that Progressive Rock, defined in this way, depict quite well what mostly is understood by this term today, or, that it at least is worth to consider, if it not should be so. It is obviously not a single style but an umbrella for a number of different styles which have some similarities. The main point of this way of defining is for me to separate a large part of the experimental and more ambitious Rock music from the mainstream in order to strengthen its identity and help building it up as a broad cultural movement. Progressive Rock, again as defined here, has sure gained in popularity over the period of the last 20 years, but I think it is important to support or at least respect each other across the different sub-genres instead of not so rarely almost fighting each other. Those are the main ideas behind this article and some ideas I find very worthy to work for, and I hope some of you do too.

    Something quite else is that the definition, I have proposed here, has some stiffness as Prog-Rock is defined by means of certain specific styles, and it might be said to be best suited to classify the different types of music included in Progressive Rock. An alternative could be a definition which has been presented by Mark Stephens (of Progpositivity Dot Com) as one of topics to discuss in ProgArchives. It suggests

 

Progressive Rock: music springing from or incorporating distinctive elements of the rock genre while expanding beyond its traditional musical limitations and constraints

 

This definition is very dynamic as it can currently incorporate all the new experimental Rock music. On the other hand, it is very broad and not so little broader and including than the one, I propose. Still, it could be a good alternative, if it could be accepted and used by musicians and fans of “the old sub-genres of Progressive Rock” and “the new ones” which it will include as the part of the genre.

 

 

 

Other references

 

Mike McLatchy: The Guide to Progressive Rock Genres. V2.0. 2003

which is a survey or a kind of extensive article, updated and available at www.gepr.net./articlesfram.html .

Katherine Charlton: Rock Music Styles: a history, 5th edition. Mc-Graw Hill 2008.

Bradley Smith: The Billboard Guide to Progressive Music. Billboard Books 1997.

Kevin Holm-Hudson (edit.): Progressive Rock Reconsidered. Routledge 2002.

Dag Erik Asbjørnsen: Scented Gardens Of the Mind. A guide to the golden era of progressive rock (1968-1980) in more than 20 European countries. Borderline Productions 2000.

 
 

 

Now, the time has come to test the proposed definition and see what music it can bring with itself. For that purpose, I have made a list of some of the highest acclaimed (rated) and well-known albums, classified by the proposed main sub-genres. This list is based on all ratings as they appeared in RateYourMusic and ProgArchives November 2009 and November 2010.

 

Here it goes.

 

Symphonic Prog ,  incl. Neo-Symphonic (Neo-Prog)

 

Yes  (UK) :   Close To The Edge  (1972) 

Genesis  (UK) :   Selling England By The Pound  (1973)

Camel  (UK) :   Mirage  (1974) 

Marillion  (UK) :   Misplaced Childhood  (1985) 

Emerson, Lake & Palmer  (UK) : Brain Salad Surgery  (1973)

Änglagård  (S) :   Hybris  (1992)

Premiata Forneria Marconi  (I) :   Per Un Amico  (1972)

Kansas  (CAN) :   Leftoverture  (1976) 

Steve Hackett  (UK) :   Voyage Of The Acolyte  (1975) 

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso  (I) :   Io Sono Nato Libero  (1973)

Le Orme  (I) :   Felona E Sorona  (1973)

Museo Rosenbach  (I) :   Zarathustra  (1973)

Spock’s Beard  (US) :   V  (2000)  (alt. Eclectic)

Rick Wakeman  (UK) :   The Six Wives Of Henry VIII  (1973)

Focus  (NL) :   Moving Waves  (1971)

U.K.  (UK) :   U.K.  (1978) 

Bacamarte  (Bra) :   Depois Do Fim  (1983)

Il Balletto di Bronzo  (I) :   Ys  (1972)

Neal Morse  (US) :   ?  (2005)

IQ  (UK) :   Dark Matter  (2004) 

Triana  (ESP) :   El Patio  (1975)

Ange  (F) :   Au-Dela Du Delire  (1974)

 

 

Eclectic Prog

 

King Crimson  (UK) :   In The Court Of The Crimson King  (1969)

The Mars Volta  (US) :   De-Loused In The Comatorium  (2003)

Rush  (CAN) :   Moving Pictures  (1981)

Porcupine Tree  (UK) :   In Absentia  (2002)

Van Der Graaf Generator  (UK) :   Pawn Hearts  (1971)

Mike Oldfield  (UK) :   Tubular Bells  (1973)

Gentle Giant  (UK) :   Octopus  (1972)

Anathema  (UK) :   Judgement  (1999)

Traffic  (UK) :   John Barleycorn Must Die  (1970)

Dredg  (US) :   El Cielo  (2002)

Gong  (F) :   You  (1974)  (alt. Canterbury (Jazz-Rock))

Renaissance  (UK) :   Scheherazade And Other Stories  (1975)  (alt. Symphonic)

The Gathering  (NL) :   How To Measure A Planet  (1998) 

Transatlantic  (US) :   Bridge Across Forever  (2001)

Peter Hammill  (UK) :   The Silent Corner And…  (1974)

Aphrodite’s Child  (Gre) :   666  (1972)  (alt. Psychedelic)

Khan  (UK) :   Space Shanty  (1972)  (alt. Canterbury (Jazz-Rock))

Atomic Rooster  (UK) :   Death Walks Behind You  (1970) 

Ozric Tentacles  (UK) :   Erpland  (1990)  (alt. Psychedelic or Folk-Rock)

Pavlov’s Dog  (US) :   Pampered Menial  (1974)

Indukti  (PL) :   S.U.S.A.R.  (2005)  (alt. Progressive Metal)

 

 

Progressive Jazz-Rock ,  incl. most of Canterbury

 

Frank Zappa  (US) :   Hot Rats  (1969) 

Miles Davis  (US) :   Bitches Brew  (1970) 

Robert Wyatt  (UK) :   Rock Bottom  (1974)

Herbie Hancock  (US) :   Head Hunters  (1973)

Caravan  (UK) :   In The Land Of Grey And Pink  (1971)

Mahavishnu Orchestra  (US) :   Birds Of Fire  (1973)

Soft Machine  (UK) :   Third  (1970)

Santana  (US) :   Caravanserai  (1972)

Al Di Meola  (US) :   Elegant Gypsy  (1977)

Colosseum  (UK) :   Valentyne Suite  (1969)

Billy Cobham  (US) :   Spectrum  (1973)

Liquid Tension Experiment  (US) :   Liquid Tension Experiment 2  (1999)

Return to Forever  (US) :   Romantic Warrior  (1976) 

Hatfield and the North  (UK) : The Rotter’s Club  (1975)

Weather Report  (US) :   Black Market  (1976) 

 

 

Progressive Metal

 

Opeth  (S) :   Blackwater Park  (2001)

Dream Theater  (US) :   Images And Words  (1992)

Death  (US) :   Symbolic  (1995)

Queesryche  (US) :   Operation : Mindcrime  (1988) 

Mastodon  (US) :   Leviathan  (2004) 

Agalloch  (US) :   The Mantle  (2002)

Cynic  (US) :   Focus  (1993)

Atheist  (US) :   Unquestionable Presence  (1991)

Pain of Salvation  (S) :   The Perfect Element I  (2000)

Riverside  (PL) :   Second Life Syndrome  (2005)  (alt. Eclectic)

Arcturus  (N) :   The Sham Mirros  (2002)

Edge of Sanity  (S) :   Crimson  (1996)

Ayreon  (NL) :   The Human Equation  (2004)

Devin Townsend  (CAN) :   Terria  (2001)

Orphaned Land  (Isr) :   Mabool : The Story Of The… (2004)

Kayo Dot  (US) :   Choirs Of the Eye  (2003)

Gojira  (F) :   From Mars to Sirius  (2005) 

Maudlin of the Well  (US) :   Leaving Your Body Map  (2001)

 

 

Psychedelic Prog ,  incl. Progressive Space-Rock

 

Pink Floyd  (UK) :   The Dark Side Of the Moon  (1973)

Boredoms  (J) :   Vision Creation Newsun  (1999)  (alt. Krautrock)

Hawkwind  (UK) :   Space Ritual  (1973) 

Flower Travellin’ Band  (J) :   Satori  (1970)

Captain Beyond  (US) :   Captain Beyond  (1972)

Oceansize  (UK) :   Effloresce  (2003)

Kingston Wall  (Fin) :   II  (1993)

Eloy  (D) :   Ocean  (1977) 

Nektar  (UK) :   A Tab In The Ocean  (1972) 

T2  (UK) :   It’ll All Work Out In Boomland  (1970)

Steve Hillage  (UK) :   Fish Rising  (1975)

Manfred Mann’s Earth Band  (UK) :   Solar Fire  (1973)

High Tide (UK) : Sea Shanties  (1969)

Älgarnas Trädgård  (S) : Framtiden är ett svävande skepp... (1972)  (alt. Folk-Rock)

Gila (D)  :   Gila  (1971)  (alt. Krautrock)

 

 

Avant-Prog/RIO and Zeuhl

 

Mr. Bungle  (US) :   California  (1999)  (alt. Progressive Metal)

Magma  (F) :   Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh  (1973)  (alt. Jazz-Rock)

Area  (I) :   Arbeit Macht Frei  (1973)  (alt. Jazz-Rock)

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum  (US) :   Of Natural History  (2004)

Univers Zero  (B) :   Heresie  (1979)

Henry Cow  (UK) :   In Praise Of Learning  (1975)

Dün  (F) :   Eros  (1981)

Samla Mammas Manna  (S) :   Maltid  (1973) 

Aksak Maboul  (B) :   Un Peu De L’ame Des Bandits  (1980) 

Koenjihyakkei  (J) :   Angherr Shisspa  (2005) 

Alamaailman Vasarat  (FIN) :   Kaarmelautakunta  (2003)

Eskaton  (F) :   4 Visions  (1981)  (alt. Jazz-Rock)

Art Bears  (UK) :   The World As It Is Today  (1981)

 

 

Progressive Folk-Rock

 

Jethro Tull  (UK) :   Thick As A Brick  (1972)  (alt. Symphonic)

Comus  (UK) :   First Utterance  (1971)

Harmonium  (CAN) :   Si On Avait Besoin…  (1975)  (alt. Symphonic)

Fairport Convention  (UK) :   Unhalfbricking  (1969)

Roy Harper  (UK) :   Stormcock  (1971)

Gryphon  (UK) :   Red Queen To Gryphon Three  (1974)  (alt. Symphonic)

Strawbs  (UK) :   Grave New World  (1972) 

Mellow Candle  (IRL) :   Swaddling Songs  (1972) 

Third Ear Band  (UK) :   Third Ear Band  (1970) 

The Trees  (UK) :   The Garden Of Jane Delawney  (1970)

Los Jaivas  (CHL) :   Alturas De Machu Picchu  (1981)

Marek Grechuta  (PL) :   Korowod  (1971)  (alt. Psychedelic) 

Yatha Sidhra  (D) :   A Meditation Mass  (1974)  (alt. Krautrock or Psychedelic)

Hoelderlin  (D) :  Hoelderlins Traum  (1972)

Osibisa  (Ghana) : Osibisa  (1971)  (alt. Jazz-Rock)

 

 

Progressive Post-Rock

 

Sigur Ros  (ISL) :   Agætis Byrjun  (1999)

Godspeed You! Black Emperor  (CAN) :   Lift Yr. Skinny… (2000)

Talk Talk  (UK) :   Sporit Of Eden  (1988) 

Explosions in the Sky  (US) :   The Earth Is Not...  (2003)

Mogwai  (UK) :   Young Team  (1997)

Tortoise  (US) :   Millions Now Living...  (1996)

A Silver Mt. Zion  (CAN) :   He Has Left Us...  (2000)

Yndi Halda  (UK) :   Enjoy Eternal Bliss  (2006) 

God is an Astronaut  (IRL) :   All Is Violent...  (2005)

Mono  (J) :   You Are There  (2006) 

Do May Say Think  (CAN) :   Winter Hymn Country...  (2003) 

Mono & World’s End Girlfriend  (J) :   Palmless Prayer...  (2005)

The Evpatoria Report  (CH) :   Golevka  (2005)

 

 

Krautrock

 

Can  (D) :   Tago Mago  (1971)  

Neu!  (D) :   Neu!  (1972)

Kraftwerk  (D) :  Autobahn  (1974)

Amon Düül II  (D) :   Yeti  (1970)  (alt. Psychedelic)

Faust  (D) :   Faust  (1971)

Popol Vuh  (D) :   Hosianna Mantra  (1972)

Ash Ra Tempel  (D) :   Ash Ra Tempel  (1971)  (alt. Psychedelic)

Agitation Free  (D) :   Malesch  (1972)  (alt. Psychedelic)

Guru Guru  (D) :   UFO  (1970)  (alt. Psychedelic)

Cluster  (D) :   II  (1972)  (alt. Psychedelic)

La Dusseldorf  (D) :   La Dusseldorf  (1976) 

Cosmic Jokers  (D) :   The Cosmic Jokers  (1973)  (alt. Psychedelic)

 

 

Electronic Prog

 

Tangerine Dream  (D) :   Phaedra  (1974)

Jean-Michel Jarre  (F) :   Oxygene  (1976)

Kraftwerk  (D) :   Radio-Aktivität  (1975)

Klaus Schulze  (D) :   Irrlicht  (1972)

Manuel Göttsching  (D) :   E2-E4  (1984)  (alt. Krautrock)

Harmonia  (D) :  Musik Von Harmonia  (1974)  (alt. Krautrock)

Ashra  (D) :   New Age On Earth  (1977) 

Vangelis  (GRE) :   Heaven And Hell  (1975)

Michael Hoenig  (D) :   Departure From The Northern Wasteland  (1978)

Edgar Froese  (D) :   Ypsilon In Malaysian Pale  (1975)

Heldon  (F) :   Stand By  (1979)

 

 

This list must of course be taken with some reservation. The sub-genres, as they appear here, might look like some boxes, we can put albums in. They have though to be understood like labels, we can put on an album, and it happens quite often that an album needs more than one label to be characterized with. Nevertheless, this way of setting it up have some advantages, not least it is well-arranged.

 

Something else is that not so rarely, the same album might be classified differently by different persons, as they might put the main focus on diverse elements of the music. My classification here is highly based on the way of classifying by RateYourMusic and ProgArchives and anyway, as already said, the whole thing is best to be taken with some reservation and best to be understood as contribution to further considerations and discussions.

 

May Progressive Rock be with you!

 

 



Edited by David_D - December 08 2010 at 16:50
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote darksideof Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 26 2010 at 16:28
2 simple words. Robert Fripp (King crimson)
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Black Metal has long songs, there are artists who are virtuous and have long songs but are not progressive. And ELP has no eletric guitar...they are progressive...but do not play rock?( Despite putting a Greg Lake a bass distortion)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote moshkito Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 26 2010 at 21:37
Quote  .... miss the term “kraut-rock” here. Well, in my opinion the kind of music, which has been connected with this term, consist of several different styles mentioned just above and can be classified by those. So, to define prog we don’t really need “kraut-rock” even we agree that it is a part of prog-rock as defined here.
 
I would suggest you read up on the studies done in Germany around Stockhausen some of the Berlin Conservatory of Music, which brought us many of the "krautrock" folks, before you decide on that.
 
The basic precept in the artistic way of the time, was not just in "krautrock" but also in film and in theater ... at the time ... and in film it was quite visible with the "new wave" and specially Godard's famous words "anti-film" ... which had tremendous fun with the "ideas" that we have about film, and its physical ideas of shooting.
 
Music, and theater did the same thing. And it was about "anti-music" and creating something that did NOT involve any of those concepts at all ... and basically you are stating that it is not a valid process ...
 
So sad that all you can describe is basically a London scene of music and not have the guts to see how other people know, see, and love, and study and learn music elsewhere in the world. Might also study the bigger concepts of music around "raga" and others musical processes that are thousands of years old ... that your concept of music will not accept.
 
Why, is your idea afraid of the "unknown" ... or the "unknowable" ... when it comes to the arts?
... none of the hits, none of the time ... you will, eventually, find your own art inside! Try it!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Easy Livin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 27 2010 at 02:47
Hi David, welcome to the forum. Big smile
 
Could you confirm whther you are the David Helin who wrote the article, or that you have permission from him to reprint it here?
 
Thanks, Admin
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mushroom Sword Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 27 2010 at 08:24
This works great. But one thing... from this new definition, a few albums fall out of that category of progressive now. for example:

  • The Dark Side of the Moon
... in fact, pretty much all of Pink Floyd.

  • 2112., Moving Pictures, and Permanent waves. They. has none of the above elements. But, a farewell to kings and hemispheres are prog because they include folk-rock references and that's the only reason why.

  • All Tool.

  • All Dream Theater.

So, it seems like you should add, "Hard Rock" to that list of genres to mix. And it also seems like #2 can't happen until #1.

I would say... add a #3, "concept albums and very long songs".

Idk, I'm tired of hitting enter every sentence, and this is just my view on it. Other then that it works great.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 31 2010 at 10:08
A good definition of progressive rock necessarily has to be broad because by nature it is NOT limited to a few musical styles.  It can be argued that the musical styles going into it is not important now and was not in the 70s and it is a certain compositional approach that those bands shared.  It would also be hard to come up with a definition that is actually able to accommodate all of classic prog AND all of prog metal because they are entirely different, not just stylistically but in the compositional approach.  Actually, a lot of modern prog outside of Avant/RIO does not, in general, share the compositional approach of classic prog.  The only possible means by which they could be argued to be of the same kind of music is in defining progressive as an ideal, i.e., to progress or evolve music. But on doing so, it becomes difficult to accept the notion of bands like Shadow Gallery or Mostly Autumn as being progressive and on the other hand the case of left field artists who don't tick favourite prog boxes like long compositions and time signature changes(as distinguished from odd time signatures!) to be considered prog becomes stronger.  In summary, a satisfactory definition of prog that encompasses everything that is as of now considered prog not just here but in other websites and mags is very difficult to come up with.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Slartibartfast Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 31 2010 at 14:08
Well I hope the guy didn't spend too long trying to figure it out.  I mean, all he really had to do is visit this site.  We got it covered. LOL

I started to read it, but then my eyes glazed over.  And then there is the realization that I don't really give a rat's ass how you define it.


Edited by Slartibartfast - October 31 2010 at 14:11
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote progpositivity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 01 2010 at 19:40
Are these the kinds of thoughts on your mind?
 
* Do we need subgenre designations for RIO and Zeuhl when they both could fit under Avant Prog?
* Does Italian Prog really need its own subgenre? 
* One could certainly ask the same question about Canterbury. 
 
From my perspective these terms provide added conversational benefit and it doesn't cost me anything extra to use them so I'll gladly accept them.  But I can certainly understand the other points of view.


Edited by progpositivity - November 01 2010 at 20:32
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Catcher10 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 02 2010 at 09:44
its rock thats progressive or you can say its progressive rock too


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote David_D Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 02 2010 at 13:01
 
 
Catcher10, I must say I don't understand your question


Edited by David_D - November 18 2010 at 13:10
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote David_D Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 02 2010 at 14:18

Progpositivity asks:

 
Originally posted by progpositivity progpositivity wrote:

Are these the kinds of thoughts on your mind?
 
* Do we need subgenre designations for RIO and Zeuhl when they both could fit under Avant Prog?
* Does Italian Prog really need its own subgenre? 
* One could certainly ask the same question about Canterbury. 
 
 

Well, I'll distinguish between the main sub-genres and some other “sub-genres”.

 
The main sub-genres in my proposal either
1. come logically from my way of defining prog as syntheses of some main music styles - those sub-genres are symphonic, jazz-rock, folk-rock, electronic, eclectic and avant-prog
or 2. are some very large and well established genres like psychedelic and what I propose to call "heavy prog". - And yes, for the sake of simplicity I've wanted to keep those main sub-genres at lowest number possible but also to emphasize what I'll consider as main styles.-
 
But then we can talk about other “sub-genres” which can be very useful to have, and which can be part of the main subgenres, like for example, RIO, Zeuhl and Canterbury, and which properly, if to follow my proposal, should be called sub-subgenres. These sub-subgenres may also be said to have the character of styles.
 
Then we can have some terms like Italian Prog which can consists of several of the other sub-genres/styles, and which are thus no single styles but for instance can have specific national characteristics. 
 
So, it's the question of how to use the term "sub-genre", i.e. the question of distinguishing between the main sub-genres/styles constituting prog and some other terms, to be best aware of what is most similar to each other, and not least what can be considered as a certain style.

And all that for the purpose of getting a good overview on what we have to do with.



Edited by David_D - November 08 2010 at 13:21
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Catcher10 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 02 2010 at 14:36
Originally posted by David_D David_D wrote:

Catcher10, I must say I don't understand your question
Its not a question...basically call it what you want...there are 10,000 suggestions on what "progressive rock" is....take your pick.
 
Most people just care that its good music.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote David_D Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 02 2010 at 15:18
 
 
Some people are obviously not interested in this subject. That is of course OK, I just don't understand why they bother to comment. It should be easy enough to keep out of it and let us other, who are interested in it, discuss it.


Edited by David_D - November 18 2010 at 13:12
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Catcher10 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 02 2010 at 16:01
^ Well because this topic has been discussed probably 10,000 times here on the PA Smile. As you see you only have what about 8 members post a reply, its an old topic that has been beat up too much and some of us are tired of the discussion.
Also you should go here for the PA definitions
 
 
Have a good time around the forums!
Cheers


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote David_D Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 02 2010 at 17:32

I know that this topic has been much discussed. But as I write in the beginning of my article, I’d also say that

“..I think that many of the discussions made assumed progressive rock to be certain music, and then, the involved parts could not agree whether for instance a certain band, let us say Pink Floyd, played this kind of music. But in my opinion, we have to start with understanding progressive rock as first and foremost a word, a term, and then, depending on how we define this term, we can determine whether a certain band can be characterized as progressive or not.”

So you see, I want to discuss with the specific, and I think rather new, approach that try to define prog as a term, and discuss how it can be done in the best way. As far as it concerns the PA definition, I know it very well but I don’t find it satisfactory. And as I also comment in my article, neither all the other definitions which have been put forward or used in the main books about progressive rock. Therefore, in my opinion, there's still a good need of discussing how to define prog.

But if you have read my article and can say, there's nothing new in my approach, I'll understand your point. That's just not how things look seen with my eyes.
 
But OK, anyway, I can also understand people can be tired of debating what they consider as the same topic.


Edited by David_D - November 08 2010 at 12:19
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote David_D Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 03 2010 at 17:31

A bit late answer/comments to your concerns, Mushroom Sword:

1.Whether Pink Floyd will be included in my proposal for prog definition?

Well, I don’t know what you have been thinking at in this matter, but it should be quite obvious that yes. As Pink Floyd is agreed to be characterized as space-rock and this style I explicitly mention as a part of the main sub-genre “psychedelic prog”.

2. The question of including Rush, Tool, Dream Theater and “hard rock”.

As the main thing here, I would not consider “hard-rock” as a major style equal to “my” main sub-genres/styles. So, I’ll suggest that we either have to do with some music where the heavy elements are very pronounced, and in that case we classified it as a part of the main sub-genre, I have defined as “heavy prog”. – And here I’ll surely include Dream Theater. - Or, we have to do with some music where other elements are more dominating, and in that case we classified it as one of “my” other main sub-genres. But in that case we can talk about sub-subgenres, for instance “hard symphonic prog” which I think would be a proper characteristic of Rush. Or another examples could here be “hard jazz-rock”, as for instance label for Liquid Tension Experiment, or “hard folk-rock” as the characteristic of the peruvian band Flor de Loto.
As far as it concerns Tool, I’ll prefer not to comment them here, because they are not so little quirky.

3. Concept albums and very long songs as a necessary criterion to be called “progressive”?

Well, you see, my whole proposal for prog definition is meant as an attempt to formulate a broad definition because that, as far as I know, haven’t been done yet, even it’s, in my opinion, quite important to attempt. To formulate a broad definition, we must avoid very specific criteria, because they limit what we will define as prog. If we demand concept albums and very long songs as a necessary condition to be called “progressive”, we’ll exclude very much of experimental rock music – for instance much of avant-prog quite often doesn’t have very long songs/compositions; similarly with concept albums.
That’s why the criteria, I have proposed, are not very specific and that’s why I find Jerry Lucky’s definition not satisfactory – and that definition is often regarded to be the so far best.



Edited by David_D - November 08 2010 at 12:20
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote David_D Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 04 2010 at 17:11
Progpositivity, I've just read about your search for a definition possessing "at least some measure of restraint and elegance", when comparing with the usual rather lengthy definitions. And I wonder if you have found any inspiration in my attempt for definiton, as simplicity, and maybe also some elegance, have been quite important for me, too, and I would say myself that my proposal is not that bad comparing with other definitions. On the other hand, I've also tried to reach something quite informative which I would say is a weak point in the definition, you've chosen as your starting point.

Edited by David_D - November 08 2010 at 12:22
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote progpositivity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 04 2010 at 19:27
Hi David! 
 
Yes, my post searching for a most elegant definition of prog was indeed inspired during my response to this post.  I decided to ask for more information about your particular quest in this post and to then create my minimalist quest as a different topic for 2 reasons:
 
1) The goal I was seeking was quite different from yours in this thread.  It is neither "better" nor "worse".  Just different.  I think you are seeking to create a precise and detailed structure of classification of prog.  I am seeking to make a cogent statement that is generally informative about prog without patently excluding anyone that should be included.
and
b) I didn't want to "single out" your approach as particularly more verbose than any of the many others. 
 
Overall, I do think that most attempts to "define" prog tend to become encyclopedic in scope and detail.  But that doesn't mean yours is "too long" nor that it is any longer than average.
 
Anyway, over on my other post, I will be happy if we are able to generally agree on a minimalist definition which provides an accurate depiction of the essence of prog.  My challenge will be to omit as much detail as possible without losing anything essential.  Kind of a different approach to the whole enterprise.
 
All the best on your classification quest as well! 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ivan_Melgar_M Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 04 2010 at 20:08
Hi David, interesting article, there are many issues I would like to discuss, but today I will center in the proposal:

I will make my comments in blue in order to separate your article from my thoughts instead of quoting you repeatedly:

Originally posted by David_D David_D wrote:

The proposal

 

Then, I can summarize:

I will propose that some music to be called progressive rock has to:

1. be a synthesis of rock and at least one of the other main styles: classical music, jazz, folk, electronic or other avant-garde, and

I believe there are clear exceptions, for example I just made a couple of reviews about "Tohpati Ethnomission" and "Simak Dialog" from Indonesia. Both bands are clearly a form of Progressive Jazz Fusion, but yet they hardly add any rock element, as a fact they don't even use drums, giving absolute priority to Jazz and Ethnic Indonesian music, but would be a sin not to include them here.


There are other bands as Karda Estra, who play some sort of Neo Classical Prog with very few Rock elements in most of their albums, but I believe we all agree that they belong here.

2. be rather complex or at least to some extent experimental in another way than 1.

    Further, I propose following main sub-genres:

* symphonic prog, incl. neo-prog

Use to believe this, but lets face it, things have changesd since Esward Maccann wrote "Rocking the Classics", In the 80's a new form of more commercial and simple Symphonic was called Neo Prog (New Prog), being that Prog was almost exclusively Symphonic.

But today many more sounds, styles and sub-genres have appeared that have nothing in common with that specific 80's sound, so I believe Neo Prog should stay, even when with a different name like Neo Symphonic, which would be much more accurate according o their roots.

* progressive jazz-rock, incl. Canterbury

No way, Canterbury is the pioneer of Prog sub-genres, it comes from the mid 60's and some even say from 1963 with "The Wilde Flowers", so when Symphonic was in diapers, Canterbury already existed, we can't forgetthe existence of the grandfathers of Progressive Rock.

                 * progressive folk-rock

Agree

* electronic prog

Agree

* avant-prog, incl. Zeuhl

Sorry, but Zeuhl IMO has nothing in common with Avant Prog, if you tell me that RIO can go with Avant, I would say OK, but bands like Magma can't be placed in any other place except maybe eclectic 

                 * psychedelic prog, incl. progressive space-rock

This is a question I always made, why Psyche and Space Rock together? I believe that he only reason is that Pink Floyd evolved from Psyche to Space Rock, never understood it.

* heavy prog, incl. all the sub-genres of heavy metal which can be considered progressive

Heavy Metal or Prog Metal are  a completely different specie that Heavy Prog (which IMO should be called Hard Prog to make a difference), bands like Uriah Heep or Titanic, have nothing in common with Dream Theater.

What I do believe is that 3 different sub-genres for Prog Metal is way too much, there should be only one Prog Metal.

and finally

                 * eclectic prog

Agree

and “prog” is of course short for progressive rock.

    Now I hope many of you, prog aficionados, are quite content but I can also imagine not so few of you fellows will miss the term “kraut-rock” here. Well, in my opinion the kind of music, which has been connected with this term, consist of several different styles mentioned just above and can be classified by those. So, to define prog we don’t really need “kraut-rock” even we agree that it is a part of prog-rock as defined here.

Many will want to hang me, but I agree that national or regional based sub-genres like Kraut Rock and Italian Symphonic, shouldn't exist individually, but that's a decision taken by the site and I respect it.


Cheers

Iván
            
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