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Symphonic in the 00's, an advantage or a handicap?

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HackettFan View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HackettFan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 06 2012 at 08:35
Originally posted by Gerinski Gerinski wrote:

Originally posted by HackettFan HackettFan wrote:

The problem I'm having is that the direction of the discussion in it's outward appearance is focused on genre as if that's the only kind of innovation that can be made. I don't know if it's intended that way. If someone ushers in a new genre, they deserve kudos (perhaps), but I'm also I interested in new timbres, new approaches to phrasing, new playing techniques, new scales, new arrangements, new approaches to rhythm, new math, new... Whether this is done in one genre or another (Symphonic Prog included) is something to be openminded about, I think.

Well the discussion was intended on the importance that many people seem to give to "genre innovation", when I fully agree with you that more minor innovation within one genre can be equally satisfying.
But as written in the previous post, I feel that some people (myself possibly unconsciously partly included) seem to put modern bands in a second tier not because of the quality of the music they make but simply because of the timing they happen to live in.

Not a timely reply, I've been a little occupied over the last few days. Yes, I agree with your premise. Did so in fact in my first post. Symphonic Prog is at a disadvantage in these times. I had to object to the idea that it should necessarily be this way. Symph Prog seems like unfinished business to me. It needs to be "carried forward" in an innovative fashion as some have said, but it's not at all like there's nothing that can be done with it. I think Steve Hackett's 00 work is a great example carrying it forward. He uses the genre, but as anyone who knows his solo work can confirm, he brings numerous other genres to bear.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote progbethyname Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 06 2012 at 09:01
You know, I've been thinking about this one a bit lately.

I think that symphonic prog probably died off around 1976-1977 and then came Neo prog, which is a direct carry over from the traditional symphonic 70's prog movement set by YES and GENESIS. My overall opinion is that the innovation is certainly there and not hindered in any way. Such examples can be shown in IQ, GALAHAD and Marillion. Their music is extremely innovative from what traditional 70's symphonic used to be. But that was the 80's and 90's. 2000 and on we haven't seen too much difference or innovation just yet. I mean you can't be fooled by the use of technology in symphonic music today. The instruments and recording process sound far more polished and clearer on a digital scale than ever before, but that doesnt mean technology makes the music itself all together that innovative or unique. It just sounds a bit different in terms of the instruments that are used.

In any case, the base of the symphonic prog genre is still in place because Neo prog is a direct carry over of that genre.
So overall the innovation and unique has occurred but only in the 80's and 90's so far. 2000 and on there hasn't been a different movement yet, but it will come. Usually all things turn over a new leaf.   
If you have sensitive and analytical sound equipment quality after market audio interconnects/cables make a HUGE difference in overall sound quality...Wider soundstage, reduced microphonics etc etc..
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 06 2012 at 09:42
^^^^  In a certain sense, it has happened but, once again, genre classification obscures it.   In the 90s, Spock's Beard began to utilize alt rock/grunge elements in a more symph prog base and Kevin Gilbert did likewise.   In the 00s, as metal became more and more ubiquitous, symph metal became very popular.  Some of these symph metal bands are even on progarchives but they tend to get clubbed with prog metal.   Not saying they shouldn't be but if you look at it in a certain sense, it is like symph prog for the 21st century.   If you take Six Degrees or Octavarium, you can even hear sections of music that are reminiscent of 70s symph prog.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote progbethyname Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 06 2012 at 10:25
^ no you can't. Your right. I mean compare something like NEAL MORSE's SOLA SCRIPTURA to say GENESIS's FOX TROT. The only similarity there could be is that they both adhere to the genre specifics in terms of style of music, but the music is entirely different from a listening standpoint. Technology has a bit to do with that I think.
But yeah, good point.
If you have sensitive and analytical sound equipment quality after market audio interconnects/cables make a HUGE difference in overall sound quality...Wider soundstage, reduced microphonics etc etc..
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote M27Barney Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 06 2012 at 13:20

^ Well strange comparison Foxtrot is one word but I think that some early Flowerkings could be favourably compared with Foxtrot era Genesis.......I think that Stardust We Are (Track) is very reminiscent of Genesis Foxtrot/Nursery Cryme with some elements of Floyd & ELP blended in....Thats why I love modern Symphonic prog - the multi influences of the classic prog bands of the seventies.....

Play me my song.....Here it comes again.......
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote richardh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 07 2012 at 01:54
Originally posted by progbethyname progbethyname wrote:

^ no you can't. Your right. I mean compare something like NEAL MORSE's SOLA SCRIPTURA to say GENESIS's FOX TROT. The only similarity there could be is that they both adhere to the genre specifics in terms of style of music, but the music is entirely different from a listening standpoint. Technology has a bit to do with that I think.
But yeah, good point.
 
Seventies prog had a lot more dynamics though. Yeah I know its that old chestnut but modern symph prog is a lot more in your face and I think thats what makes it so different. Classic symph prog had lots of quiet atmospheric moments.
 
Neo prog in the eighties did draw heavily from the seventies with IQ's Tales From The Lush Attic the best example I can think of. However by the ninteties they had completely reinvented their approach on the Ever album where you will struggle to link what they are doing then with what came earlier although they were almost exactly the same band line up wise. There did seem to be a general divergence around that time with Angalard coming onto the scene with a much more retro approach BUT also with a highly distinctive sound and style of their own. Hybris is no copy for certain.
 
The last 10 years I would say the natural evolution of seventies symph prog has happened with Neal Morse and other artists who have a heavier sound.Its interesting though that BBT have garnered so much praise with an approach that is much closer to the seventies. The seventies will always be a comfort blanket for prog fans and artists like BBT and TFK perhaps understand that and are ahppy to exploit it?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ytse_Jam Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 07 2012 at 12:34
Originally posted by progbethyname progbethyname wrote:

You know, I've been thinking about this one a bit lately.

I think that symphonic prog probably died off around 1976-1977 and then came Neo prog, which is a direct carry over from the traditional symphonic 70's prog movement set by YES and GENESIS. My overall opinion is that the innovation is certainly there and not hindered in any way. Such examples can be shown in IQ, GALAHAD and Marillion. Their music is extremely innovative from what traditional 70's symphonic used to be. But that was the 80's and 90's. 2000 and on we haven't seen too much difference or innovation just yet. I mean you can't be fooled by the use of technology in symphonic music today. The instruments and recording process sound far more polished and clearer on a digital scale than ever before, but that doesnt mean technology makes the music itself all together that innovative or unique. It just sounds a bit different in terms of the instruments that are used.

In any case, the base of the symphonic prog genre is still in place because Neo prog is a direct carry over of that genre.
So overall the innovation and unique has occurred but only in the 80's and 90's so far. 2000 and on there hasn't been a different movement yet, but it will come. Usually all things turn over a new leaf.   
I think you're right. Symph genre has absorbed a lot of musical elements in these years, from metal, 80s music, alt rock and so on, but I think the approach of symphonic prog bands hasn't changed, and still strongly refers to 70s. I mean, it's blended with other genres, but it is still symphonic prog. Instrumentation contributed to make it sound a bit different, of course, but I think this genre still follows the 70s model (luckly).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote progbethyname Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 07 2012 at 18:54
Originally posted by richardh richardh wrote:

Originally posted by progbethyname progbethyname wrote:

^ no you can't. Your right. I mean compare something like NEAL MORSE's SOLA SCRIPTURA to say GENESIS's FOX TROT. The only similarity there could be is that they both adhere to the genre specifics in terms of style of music, but the music is entirely different from a listening standpoint. Technology has a bit to do with that I think. But yeah, good point.


 

Seventies prog had a lot more dynamics though. Yeah I know its that old chestnut but modern symph prog is a lot more in your face and I think thats what makes it so different. Classic symph prog had lots of quiet atmospheric moments.

 

Neo prog in the eighties did draw heavily from the seventies with IQ's Tales From The Lush Attic the best example I can think of. However by the ninteties they had completely reinvented their approach on the Ever album where you will struggle to link what they are doing then with what came earlier although they were almost exactly the same band line up wise. There did seem to be a general divergence around that time with Angalard coming onto the scene with a much more retro approach BUT also with a highly distinctive sound and style of their own. Hybris is no copy for certain.

 

The last 10 years I would say the natural evolution of seventies symph prog has happened with Neal Morse and other artists who have a heavier sound.Its interesting though that BBT have garnered so much praise with an approach that is much closer to the seventies. The seventies will always be a comfort blanket for prog fans and artists like BBT and TFK perhaps understand that and are ahppy to exploit it?


Good point Richard. The model of the 70's symphonic prog is definitely still in place and I don't think it's hanging by a thread either. I also like your example of IQ. I think it perfectly explains musically how a band has grown and changed over a 30 year period while still keeping the traditional fundementals of 70's symphonic prog, but losely of course. Tales From The Lush Attic was definitely in tune with 70's sounding prog, but then their next release....oh my goodness what a jump away sound wise from tales. THE WAKE still to this day I feel is a real land mark in the Neo Prog Movement. Such a dramatic turn sound wise.
If you have sensitive and analytical sound equipment quality after market audio interconnects/cables make a HUGE difference in overall sound quality...Wider soundstage, reduced microphonics etc etc..
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote richardh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 08 2012 at 02:35
Originally posted by progbethyname progbethyname wrote:

Originally posted by richardh richardh wrote:

Originally posted by progbethyname progbethyname wrote:

^ no you can't. Your right. I mean compare something like NEAL MORSE's SOLA SCRIPTURA to say GENESIS's FOX TROT. The only similarity there could be is that they both adhere to the genre specifics in terms of style of music, but the music is entirely different from a listening standpoint. Technology has a bit to do with that I think. But yeah, good point.


 

Seventies prog had a lot more dynamics though. Yeah I know its that old chestnut but modern symph prog is a lot more in your face and I think thats what makes it so different. Classic symph prog had lots of quiet atmospheric moments.

 

Neo prog in the eighties did draw heavily from the seventies with IQ's Tales From The Lush Attic the best example I can think of. However by the ninteties they had completely reinvented their approach on the Ever album where you will struggle to link what they are doing then with what came earlier although they were almost exactly the same band line up wise. There did seem to be a general divergence around that time with Angalard coming onto the scene with a much more retro approach BUT also with a highly distinctive sound and style of their own. Hybris is no copy for certain.

 

The last 10 years I would say the natural evolution of seventies symph prog has happened with Neal Morse and other artists who have a heavier sound.Its interesting though that BBT have garnered so much praise with an approach that is much closer to the seventies. The seventies will always be a comfort blanket for prog fans and artists like BBT and TFK perhaps understand that and are ahppy to exploit it?


Good point Richard. The model of the 70's symphonic prog is definitely still in place and I don't think it's hanging by a thread either. I also like your example of IQ. I think it perfectly explains musically how a band has grown and changed over a 30 year period while still keeping the traditional fundementals of 70's symphonic prog, but losely of course. Tales From The Lush Attic was definitely in tune with 70's sounding prog, but then their next release....oh my goodness what a jump away sound wise from tales. THE WAKE still to this day I feel is a real land mark in the Neo Prog Movement. Such a dramatic turn sound wise.
The Wake is one of my favourite albums. I think they 'got to the point' on that album. At the time I was blown away by the sheer intensity of it. Shades of later seventies Genesis but with almost a punk/new wave sensability. I was gutted when Nicholls left shortly afterwords... but thankfully he was to return.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote progbethyname Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 08 2012 at 10:20
Originally posted by richardh richardh wrote:

[QUOTE=progbethyname] [QUOTE=richardh] [QUOTE=progbethyname]]
The Wake is one of my favourite albums. I think they 'got to the point' on that album. At the time I was blown away by the sheer intensity of it. Shades of later seventies Genesis but with almost a punk/new wave sensability. I was gutted when Nicholls left shortly afterwords... but thankfully he was to return.


Right again. NOMZAMO and ARE YOU SITTING COMFORTABLY are god awful in my opinion and I didn't even bother buying either album. Nicholls is the heart of the band and EVER was an epic return. I almost cried.
If you have sensitive and analytical sound equipment quality after market audio interconnects/cables make a HUGE difference in overall sound quality...Wider soundstage, reduced microphonics etc etc..
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote moshkito Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 08 2012 at 13:05
Originally posted by richardh richardh wrote:

... 
Seventies prog had a lot more dynamics though. Yeah I know its that old chestnut but modern symph prog is a lot more in your face and I think thats what makes it so different. Classic symph prog had lots of quiet atmospheric moments.
 ...
 
I think it DID have more dynamics, simply because the time and place was more conducive to experimenting and not so many folks telling it that it wasn't this or that ... like they do here!
 
The freedom is there ... you take it ... the freedom is not, most folks will not try different things, because they know everyone will trash it, and in this day and age, the commercialism is the only thing that will get you some sales ... which is an important consideration.
 
Ex: ... I seriously doubt that a Gentle Giant, would succeed today ... too far out there and strange and the lyrics? ... how can anyone relate to that, and a metal audience or some kind of strange other audience of half the threads here would go ... wtf is that! and I don't like it!
 
The fact that there was no "media" in those days helped ... something fierce ... today, no one can do anything without everyone having something to say ... and this is the difference between folks trying something or not ... you end up getting intimidated and when you are young, and you want to get laid, or have some fun with a few friends, being the odd one out is not gonna help you!
 
The "dynamics" is another word for ... I'm not writing just a song ... I'm telling a story and the music is illustrating that story, rather than follow some rock'n'roll process or idea ... or worse ... some "progressive" idea!
... none of the hits, none of the time ... you might actually find your own art, or self, instead of paying for a guru or church or social program!



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HackettFan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 08 2012 at 13:26
Yes, I would like to see more dynamics both on the playing end and on the recording end. But that's an old thing from the early seventies. We're so lacking in it nowadays that I would regard it as maybe, though not exactly innovative, an effort to move things forward. I predict though that some/many would lambast it as just copying the old.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gerinski Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 08 2012 at 20:01
Well it's easy to generalize but there's music with good dynamics now too, Big Big Train could be an example.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 08 2012 at 20:39
Originally posted by HackettFan HackettFan wrote:

Yes, I would like to see more dynamics both on the playing end and on the recording end. But that's an old thing from the early seventies. We're so lacking in it nowadays that I would regard it as maybe, though not exactly innovative, an effort to move things forward. I predict though that some/many would lambast it as just copying the old.

Not really.  Maybe, as richardh said it, that can be observed in new symph prog because it got heavier through the 80s and 90s.   But there are still bands, prog or not, that make dynamic music.    This was one artist I tried to suggest for JR/F but couldn't succeed, nevertheless a good example of dynamic music with old school values but a fresh approach (in term of Carnatic influence):



From what I remember of Kayo Dot, I don't think they lack in dynamics either.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HackettFan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 08 2012 at 23:25
Sorry, I only wrote "dynamics" but I was really referring to dynamic contrast - my apologies. I thought that was what RichardH was referring to too, but I dunno. For dynamic contrast I'm thinking of Larks Tongue pt. 1 or Musical Box. In modern times I'm thinking of Jade Warrior's "3am Meltdown", but that's a band that goes back to the golden age of the 60s/70s.

@Gerinski
I was listening to Big Big Train on YouTube. They're like candy for a Prog fan, but I haven't come across any sign of dynamic contrast (though could be the simply the result of listening to YouTube through an iPhone). I thought the recordings could have benefitted from it. I'll have to listen to some more, though.

@rogerthat
Loved the music on your link, but it wasn't what I had in mind as far as dynamic contrast; quiet loud quiet loud (can't tell much on the recording side through my iPhone). Also, heavier bands are even more likely to go for more narrow compression and less dynamic contrast, but again, I realize I left out the part about contrast, mia culpa.

Edited by HackettFan - December 08 2012 at 23:28
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 09 2012 at 00:01
^^^  You'd find quiet-loud contrasts in Steven Wilson's most recent album, Grace for Drowning.   Also on Mars Volta, but in a rather in your face way.   I personally like a balance of subtlety and contrast because the quiet-loud shifts should convey something more than just excitement or titillation.   So...the problem there may be that prog has moved away a bit from its connections to 60s rock, blues etc and lost out a bit on expression.    That's the kind of change you observe to some extent in jazz too.   Technical is all fine and dandy but it should also express and sway one's emotions; at least that's the way I like it.   A song like Fiona Apple's Get Gone is so much more expressive - and utilizes dynamics nicely to do so - than what I generally hear in modern prog.  I don't think that is a particular strength of prog for any era but it was emphasised a little more in the 70s, especially in Genesis, than it tends to be today.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 09 2012 at 00:05
Brubeck passed way last week.   Just a month back, I attended a jazz concert where the performers were just spectacular.   But sometimes I want to hear the feeling of the music having been crafted lovingly by the performer and not just as a vehicle to exhibit his prowess.   I am not greedy, I will take what I get but that's the thing that turns me on the most.   Something like this track, doesn't rely so much on contrast as it does on very subtle and delicate variations:




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HackettFan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 09 2012 at 00:18
Yes, that's what I'm talking about. I enjoyed that.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Neelus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 09 2012 at 02:32
Originally posted by moshkito moshkito wrote:

Originally posted by richardh richardh wrote:

... 
Seventies prog had a lot more dynamics though. Yeah I know its that old chestnut but modern symph prog is a lot more in your face and I think thats what makes it so different. Classic symph prog had lots of quiet atmospheric moments.
 ...
 
I think it DID have more dynamics, simply because the time and place was more conducive to experimenting and not so many folks telling it that it wasn't this or that ... like they do here!
 
The freedom is there ... you take it ... the freedom is not, most folks will not try different things, because they know everyone will trash it, and in this day and age, the commercialism is the only thing that will get you some sales ... which is an important consideration.
 
Ex: ... I seriously doubt that a Gentle Giant, would succeed today ... too far out there and strange and the lyrics? ... how can anyone relate to that, and a metal audience or some kind of strange other audience of half the threads here would go ... wtf is that! and I don't like it!
 
The fact that there was no "media" in those days helped ... something fierce ... today, no one can do anything without everyone having something to say ... and this is the difference between folks trying something or not ... you end up getting intimidated and when you are young, and you want to get laid, or have some fun with a few friends, being the odd one out is not gonna help you!
 
The "dynamics" is another word for ... I'm not writing just a song ... I'm telling a story and the music is illustrating that story, rather than follow some rock'n'roll process or idea ... or worse ... some "progressive" idea!


Yeah, this is an interesting point.  The fact that improved communication made media much more "cut throat".  And that this might scare bands into producing music more in tune with what they think audiences would like to hear.  Where are the days when bands ruled the media??
This, and obviously change in influences.  The classic bands listened to different stuff, most probably more subtle stuff than what modern bands grew up on. 
A modern (and twisted) example of an album with fantastic contrast is Still Life by Opeth.  Yeah, there is extreme vocals on there, but if you listen to it a couple of times, you notice it is something new, different, and it has loads of contrast between emotions and intensity.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gerinski Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 09 2012 at 02:53
I fully agree that "dynamics" should be understood as much more than just "quiet - loud - quiet - loud - quiet", it refers to a very broad spectrum of musical variation, and in this respect modern symphonic bands (generalizing of course) seem less inventive than the 70's classics.
Modern symphonic has less influence from classical music and more from metal and rock in general.
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