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Defining Prog- The Eternal Question

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sararocksprog View Drop Down
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    Posted: December 12 2010 at 23:52

DEFINING PROG- THE ETERNAL QUESTION

The inspiration for this article arose out of the unexpected controversy I encountered while marketing my band’s first album, Total B.S.’ “2 the Core,” to the progressive rock community.  I was surprised to discover there was a question as to whether we qualified as ‘Prog’ due to some unconventional influences that are prevalent in our music.

When I joined up with Blair to form Total B.S., I was sure I was getting into a serious “Progressive Rock” outfit… if not even fusion.  At the time I was going through a bit of an identity crisis with my singing but was absolutely thrilled with my new association.  From my perspective, being in a ‘Progressive Rock’ band… making progressive rock music was the best thing that could’ve happened to me short of actually being Robert Plant fronting Led Zeppelin.

I soon came to learn that Blair was a self proclaimed “Progger.”  I had never considered myself a progger specifically.  Yeah, I loved Progressive Rock… “YES” had a major impact on me… and the few songs I had heard from ELP, Dixie Dregs and King Crimson prompted me to pick up their “best of” releases... but ultimately, I considered myself more of a rocker than anything.  Bottom line… this whole progressive rock movement… the community and of course... all the subsequent bands and sub subgenres that spawned from those greats that had left everlasting impressions on me and ultimately started the movement were all foreign and new information on me.

In our efforts to promote the band, the progressive rock community seemed an obvious starting point.  Now… call me naïve, but I had no idea this was such an exclusive club.  I’ve been around a lot of musicians in my time… and there is certainly an inherent attitude among those in the clubmetal heads can be very difficult… but I have to admit… it’s been a little tenuous navigating my way.  I’ve concertedly utilized every shred of diplomacy, finesse and political correctedness, in my power, to gain favor.  Smile

Regarding the progressive rock phenomena and all the related subgenres... it has come to my attention that Progressive Rock didn’t exist as a musical category until years after it’s forefathers had forged the music that would define the genre.  At the time when the late 60’s were bridging into the new decade… any song that was played on AM radio was considered pop music… where FM radio played the underground artists.   Singles from Yes, ELP, and Led Zeppelin were common fare on the AM radio station alongside Elvis and Beatles hits.  I’ll take the liberty of coining a new term I’ll call “Pop Prog” as it relates to music that’s played on the popular radio station.  The way I see it… progressive music  has bridged the gap between pop music and underground music… fostering the path to more sophisticated music that may or may not be embraced by massive sectors of the population.

These days, to define Prog seems to be akin to finding the holy grail… that which is elusive if not unattainable…but always worth the chase.  I see forum topics addressed over and over again bearing titles like “Is Pink Floyd prog?”

So… I think to myself, what IS Prog?”… and… what makes Me more qualified to define Prog that the next analytical mind?  Nothing… but I’m going to take a swipe at it.

Let’s analyze the term first… “Progressive Rock”   What does it mean literally?  Webster defines ‘progressive’ as characterized by reform… so… in essence… constant change.  I always thought of progressive rock as unconventional and constantly changing, happily absent of the “verse, chorus, verse, chorus” monotony ever prevalent in most pop music arrangements. 

Classic Prog might be characterized by classic synthesizer sounds; the Moog with its haunting tones, the Prophet 5… shrill and precise, the crass howl of the leslies spinning on the Hammond B3, the pristine and poignant tones of the Fender  Rhodes… they all smack of the progressive rock of old that once defined the genre.  What about the Concept album?...  the side length epic track?... the long intro, solo, and outro sections?... all signature progressive movements.

When I think of progressive rock music I think of the dynamic shifts and bursts of strategically engineered sound… the surprise changes, the sudden starts and stops.  I analyze for form and sense circular arrangements with beginnings, middles and endings… sections characterized by multi segment passes, parts bridged by dramatic transitions and turnovers. Cerebral, thought provoking song themes, concepts and lyrics float across sophisticated and highly orchestrated harmonic cacophony.  It’s not so much about style, but about adventure and surprise.

So… dare I say… I am a Progger… because I love adventure and embrace change. Whether my band will be embraced by the progressive rock community as a whole remains to be seen… but that’s truly a side note to an even larger question… Is Pink Floyd PROG???  Confused

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TheOppenheimer View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TheOppenheimer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 13 2010 at 00:20
if you consider yourself prog, maybe you're prog.

if you consider X band prog, maybe it's prog.

anyway, you should not fight for falling into the 'prog' label, but for making music that you love, and for loving the music that you make.

take it easy on yourself, no one can define a music genre, but anyone can create it
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A veces es cuestión de esperar, y tomarte en silencio.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Steven Brodziak Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 13 2010 at 00:45
I've never thought of Led Zep as prog until recently. They were like heavy rock to me. But with songs like "No Quarter" yes, in my opinion it is prog. Chord changes, mood changes, instrumentation changes as well as vocal changes in a song can be prog. Not every song from the giants of prog ie. Genesis, Yes are prog. Even from selling England by the Pound you have "More Fool Me" a wonderful song but no prog imo. Today, Dream Theater does some prog. Transatlantic? Nearly 100% prog. Flower Kings the same. You are correct on pop description.
 
You know Prog when you hear it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sararocksprog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 13 2010 at 00:47
Originally posted by TheOppenheimer TheOppenheimer wrote:

if you consider yourself prog, maybe you're prog.

if you consider X band prog, maybe it's prog.

anyway, you should not fight for falling into the 'prog' label, but for making music that you love, and for loving the music that you make.

take it easy on yourself, no one can define a music genre, but anyone can create it
I appreciate your response. I don't mind if we're not categorically Prog by whomevers standards... definitely loving creating music that is certainly progressive and rockin' to ME!  Exclamation
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sararocksprog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 13 2010 at 01:07
Originally posted by Steven Brodziak Steven Brodziak wrote:

I've never thought of Led Zep as prog until recently. They were like heavy rock to me. But with songs like "No Quarter" yes, in my opinion it is prog. Chord changes, mood changes, instrumentation changes as well as vocal changes in a song can be prog. Not every song from the giants of prog ie. Genesis, Yes are prog. Even from selling England by the Pound you have "More Fool Me" a wonderful song but no prog imo. Today, Dream Theater does some prog. Transatlantic? Nearly 100% prog. Flower Kings the same. You are correct on pop description.
 
You know Prog when you hear it.
I hadn't thought of Zep as Prog either...to me they're in a class by themselves... although there are certainly elements of Prog in a number of their songs... and the fact that they struck me as somewhat thematic which is very theatrical and therefore Prog.
 
You are correct that plenty of categorically Prog  bands have produced decidedly un prog material.
 
I thought I knew what Prog was... but now I'm not sure I qualify as an authority on the subject
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Easy Livin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 13 2010 at 03:12

With Prog apparently being back in vogue, I think there is a tendency among marketing people to want to define their band as such, regardless of the music. Many more bands are being described as prog these days, the irony being that a few years ago they would probably have sued if they were given such a label!

Prog draws in a lot of influences, but simply because a band plays fusion, jazz, metal, Led Zeppelin covers or whatever does not make them prog.
 
This site must take some of the responsibility for the confusion surrounding what is genuinely prog. We have widened the boundaries significantly in terms of what gets on the site (too far in my personal opinion) and have many jazz, metal and "Crossover" artists (in particular) listed as prog who really should not be.
 
Nevertheless, the inclusion of some of the big names in theese fields brings people into the site, and allows us to direct them towards the genuine stuff. It is interesting that our top artists and albums solidly remain focused on the core prog bands.
 
I have not listened to your band Sara, so I offer no opinion on their prog credentials. As has been said though, do not allow a label of convenience ("Prog") to distract your band from recording the music you like making. Leave it to others to then worry about how it should be classified.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote akaBona Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 13 2010 at 05:55
Lots of good writings here, thank you. All I need to say is that:

Prog is in your heart, it's a kind of way of living.

Have Mercy!


Edited by akaBona - December 13 2010 at 05:55
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote yeshu2k Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 13 2010 at 15:46
Well, I think you should all check out Sara's music and see if it is prog or not...
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sararocksprog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 13 2010 at 16:03
Originally posted by Easy Livin Easy Livin wrote:

 
I have not listened to your band Sara, so I offer no opinion on their prog credentials. As has been said though, do not allow a label of convenience ("Prog") to distract your band from recording the music you like making. Leave it to others to then worry about how it should be classified.
 
I feel like I may have come across as some "Prog Wanna-Be"... which obviously is NOT pretty... or you're just being nice ? Shocked... 
 
Regardless... I never set out to be "prog."  I feel like I kinda found out inadvertently that I have a progressive sensibility when it comes to producing music.  I'm just genuinely surprised at the difference of perspectives... but such is life. 
 
Obviously... as a band... we are seeking to be exposed to an appreciative audience which I now realize will be found among a variety of musical communities... and will be embraced more likely by music lovers who are not extremists in their love of one style or another.  Our style definitely posesses a broad range of influences... some of which may be considered decidedly "un-prog" to the prog purist...  Take a listen if you care and tell me what you think.  The first song has some rap in it so you may want to listen to a few tracks as they vary quite a bit stylistically from one another.  http://www.reverbnation.com/totalbsrocks
 
Thanks for your input and support.  I'm definitly going to keep doing MY thing... prog or not... Tongue
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sararocksprog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 13 2010 at 16:07
Originally posted by akaBona akaBona wrote:

Lots of good writings here, thank you. All I need to say is that:

Prog is in your heart, it's a kind of way of living.

Have Mercy!
hehe  LOL  Thank YOU for the comments... I concur... "Prog for Life!!"  I live my life very progressively... and YES... Have Mercy!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Slartibartfast Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 13 2010 at 16:51
Some of us have a more narrow definition of what's prog and some are more broad minded.   Being 45 and a prog fan for most of my years, I just don't get hung up on it.  When I first got into prog it wasn't really a well defined genre anyway.  There was just the really good stuff and stuff that wasn't worth bothering with.  By the way, I would check out your stuff but lately I've been trying to avoid exploring new stuff.  Still, wish you the best of success in your musical endeavors.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sararocksprog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 13 2010 at 17:05
Quote By the way, I would check out your stuff but lately I've been trying to avoid exploring new stuff.  Still, wish you the best of success in your musical endeavors.
 
No offense taken.  Thanks for your well wishes... Smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 13 2010 at 19:43
Classic prog is NOT characterized by Moog, Hammond or Fender. If it may have appeared that way to you, it is only because bands from the same era naturally sought out similar equipment.  Even Stevie Wonder used Moog and Fender in the 70s,  I am sure.   Unlike other genres, prog cannot be characterized by stylistic elements. No, this is not because we progheads are snobbish and live in ivory towers LOL, it's because it is not really a genre but more a reference to an approach to songwriting and imposing artificial boundaries on what is and what is not prog is not feasible. That said, while I have a clear idea of what is prog, I have no idea at all what this site considers prog except for the 70s where it seems that largely, only those bands who were considered prog rock in the 70s have been included anyway.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote yeshu2k Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 13 2010 at 20:54
Yeah, I think she said everything you just said only in different words.... and much more descriptive.  The reference to Fender Rhodes and Hammond and Moog, she said, was something characterized by "some".  She defined prog as the musical movements and elements in conceptual albums and long songs... bla bla bla... take a listen to their stuff... what would you call it, if you could classify it.
 
 
I like it!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tengent Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 15 2010 at 11:49
Prog is to music as Howard Roark is to architecture.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Slartibartfast Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 15 2010 at 16:40
Originally posted by Tengent Tengent wrote:

Prog is to music as Howard Roark is to architecture.

And what Ayn Rand is to anuses and Rand Paul.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sararocksprog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 15 2010 at 16:43
Quote take a listen to their stuff... what would you call it, if you could classify it.
 
 
I like it!
Thanks for the plug... but your link is mussed up... hee hee  LOL
 
 
It's worth mentioning that the perspectives we are sharing here are those of the music analyst... and surely not that of the layman or the uninformed.  As far as instruments and "sounds" characterizing styles of music... certainly in the passive listeners mind- which constitutes most of the population... they DO...but... ultimately... FORM is what defines style moreso than sounds.  Both deserve consideration as certain sounds, tones and instruments are indicative of certain styles and therefore do sometimes play a part in defining said style.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sararocksprog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 15 2010 at 16:46
Originally posted by Tengent Tengent wrote:

Prog is to music as Howard Roark is to architecture.
 
I like that!!  Wink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sararocksprog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 15 2010 at 16:58
Originally posted by Slartibartfast Slartibartfast wrote:

Originally posted by Tengent Tengent wrote:

Prog is to music as Howard Roark is to architecture.

And what Ayn Rand is to anuses and Rand Paul.
 
You guys got me Googling stuff like crazy... I didn't get this one though... Confused
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 15 2010 at 19:48
Originally posted by sararocksprog sararocksprog wrote:

 
It's worth mentioning that the perspectives we are sharing here are those of the music analyst... and surely not that of the layman or the uninformed. 


Laymen who would call Kenny G jazz, for instance?  I doubt that the layman's perspective was taken into account in discerning genres like hard bop and cool jazz.  I understand that the uninformed would, hypothetically, like to call something with a lot of Hammond prog (even though it could just as well be Deep Purple) but that is, well, an uninformed judgment and only adds to the confusion. 

The simplest definition of prog (that could be used to explain it to the uninitiated) is of a music style based predominantly in rock in which the compositions tend to be long and have extended sections and interludes.  More or less in line with the website's description of prog, that is. LOL It is still inaccurate and gives too much weight to stereotypes (Gentle Giant were definitely not defined by epics) but it is difficult to frame an accurate definition that can still be easily understood by anyone with little or no knowledge about prog.
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