Forum Home Forum Home > Progressive Music Lounges > Prog Music Lounge
  New Posts New Posts RSS Feed - Is classical influence essential to prog rock?
  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login

Topic ClosedIs classical influence essential to prog rock?

 Post Reply Post Reply Page  123 13>
Author
Message
Toaster Mantis View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: April 12 2008
Location: Denmark
Status: Offline
Points: 5898
Direct Link To This Post Topic: Is classical influence essential to prog rock?
    Posted: December 26 2013 at 15:30
There's something I've become more and more confused about regarding the exact definition of "progressive rock" recently, in part because my own knowledge of music theory is very basic and I'm not sure exactly how to test the argument in practice.

I get the impression there's two contrasting definitions of the genre/movement. The first defines "progressive" as just thinking outside the box in terms of style and theme, progress here meaning moving the genre forwards and not really being a specific style. The second one has "progressive rock" refer to progress within a composition, as in abandoning the cyclical verse/chorus song structure of pop/rock tradition in favour of a classically inspired sonata format dominated by linear forwards progression. (I think this is the definition J. Derogatis uses in his book Turn On Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock) Under this definition bands like ELP, Genesis, King Crimson and Yes would be prog. However, groups like Hawkwind, Jethro Tull or Pink Floyd would at best have ten songs each that qualify as prog... instead being classified as "art rock" under this definition. (a categorization I'm still not sure exactly what means - when I first encountered it I saw it used as a synonym for progressive rock, but now I'm far from certain as you can see)

The plot thickens: Then there's the question of how much stuff like Captain Beefheart or much of Krautrock would count as prog under the second definition. Its classical influences come from very different sources (Stravinsky, Stockhausen, Varese etc.) and is more about deconstructing the building blocks or structural ideas behind music than constructing lengthy complex pieces of music.

Can anyone here clear things up for me? I'm curious to find out how the genre categorizations of "art rock" and "progressive rock" have evolved historically, in specific how much influence from classical music has been an essential part of the latter. Should mention that Derogatis' book uses the classical influence to draw the line between progressive rock and psychedelic rock instead, the latter I'm certainly fine with regarding as a "cultural movement" at least as much as a style of music.
"The past is not some static being, it is not a previous present, nor a present that has passed away; the past has its own dynamic being which is constantly renewed and renewing." - Claire Colebrook
Back to Top
zravkapt View Drop Down
Special Collaborator
Special Collaborator
Avatar
Honorary Collaborator

Joined: October 12 2010
Location: Canada
Status: Offline
Points: 6446
Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 26 2013 at 16:16
The first bands labelled "progressive rock" generally had influences from one or more of these genres: classical, folk, jazz and avant-guarde. Some had no folk influences, some had no classical influences, etc. Historically speaking, the term "progressive rock" was first used in the UK; the same bands were called "Art Rock" in the USA. However, back in the UK artists like David Bowie and Roxy Music were referred to as "Art Rock". The term "progressive" as applied to music has been used for everything from jazz to techno.
Magma America Great Make Again
Back to Top
King Crimson776 View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: October 12 2007
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 2657
Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 27 2013 at 08:31
Certain fans of the genre seem to want to make 'progressive rock' broad to the point of meaninglessness. Not every type of "creative" rock music is prog. Captain Beefheart is almost never considered prog outside of this site.

The second definition is right. Prog is the type of rock music that pushes the style to its height of complexity, which inherently means a predominant classical influence (up to postmodern). It loses its meaning entirely if it also includes minimalist groups. There are other terms for bands with jazz or folk but no classical influence. Jethro Tull is prog, but in a lesser degree than King Crimson.
Back to Top
Manuel View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: March 09 2007
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 8866
Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 27 2013 at 09:50
It is quite difficult to make a difference between "Art Rock" and "Progressive Rock". The main reason is because the terms were created not to define the parameters of how the music was to be composed, orchestrated, instrumented, etc, but mainly to differentiate it from other forms of music, like soul, pop, country, etc.
As Steve Hackett once said in an interview "We were not trying to create Progressive music, but rather, we were attempting to compose the best music we could". 
The need of labeling genres, styles, tendencies, comes from music critics, not from the artists themselves. Miles Davis also said "I write the music, you label it" when talking to some music critics of his time, and I think this is mostly the norm for most artists, so either classical, folk, jazz or any other influence that artists choose to influence their compositions, it's the content and essence that matters more to them.
I personally divide music as "Music to dance to" and "Music to listen to". To dance, you don't need much complexity in your music, only a nice beat and a catchy tune; for music to listen to, the story chances of course, and orchestration, complexity, instrumentation, arrangements and many other factors become vital for your music. Obviously progressive music falls into the second category.
Back to Top
Slartibartfast View Drop Down
Collaborator
Collaborator
Avatar
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

Joined: April 29 2006
Location: Atlantais
Status: Offline
Points: 29620
Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 27 2013 at 11:39
Oddly enough other fans of this genre want to make it narrow to the point of meaninglessness...LOL
Released date are often when it it impacted you but recorded dates are when it really happened...

Back to Top
TODDLER View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member
Avatar
VIP Member

Joined: August 28 2009
Location: Vineland, N.J.
Status: Offline
Points: 3126
Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 27 2013 at 15:07
Originally posted by Toaster Mantis Toaster Mantis wrote:

There's something I've become more and more confused about regarding the exact definition of "progressive rock" recently, in part because my own knowledge of music theory is very basic and I'm not sure exactly how to test the argument in practice.

I get the impression there's two contrasting definitions of the genre/movement. The first defines "progressive" as just thinking outside the box in terms of style and theme, progress here meaning moving the genre forwards and not really being a specific style. The second one has "progressive rock" refer to progress within a composition, as in abandoning the cyclical verse/chorus song structure of pop/rock tradition in favour of a classically inspired sonata format dominated by linear forwards progression. (I think this is the definition J. Derogatis uses in his book Turn On Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock) Under this definition bands like ELP, Genesis, King Crimson and Yes would be prog. However, groups like Hawkwind, Jethro Tull or Pink Floyd would at best have ten songs each that qualify as prog.....Jethro Tull ventured into other styles of music such as Blues , Jazz, and created a sometimes "Hard Rock" sound specifically with the usage of distorted guitar...WHICH!...differed from the guitar sounds in Genesis, ELP, K.C., and Yes. That may be a detailed reason as to why they are not considered Prog by authors of the subject..even though ELP played Blues/Rock n' Roll progressions in joke songs like "Are You Ready Eddy However...when listening to Tull's  performance at Carnegie Hall..one might notice Ian Anderson and Jon Evans playing an excerpt from Beethoven's Piano Sonata # 8 in C minor. and titled "Grave" - "Molto allegro e con brio. Another example of Classical in the early years of Tull is their Jazzy version of "Bouree In E minor" J.S.Bach. Later....with Thick As A Brick and A Passion Play...Blues and Jazz were less of an affair and Classical and Folk dominated their style. War Child, Minstrel In the Gallery, and Songs From the Wood contain a Classical influence along with a traditional Folk influence. The truly complex music of Jethro Tull ,(which is Prog), and would cause any band of seasoned musicians to pull their hair the hell out when rehearsing it...would be T.A.A.B. and A Passion Play. .
 
. instead being classified as "art rock" under this definition. (a categorization I'm still not sure exactly what means - when I first encountered it I saw it used as a synonym for progressive rock, but now I'm far from certain as you can see)

The plot thickens: Then there's the question of how much stuff like Captain Beefheart or much of Krautrock would count as prog under the second definition. Its classical influences come from very different sources (Stravinsky, Stockhausen, Varese etc.) and is more about deconstructing the building blocks or structural ideas behind music than constructing lengthy complex pieces of music.

Can anyone here clear things up for me? I'm curious to find out how the genre categorizations of "art rock" and "progressive rock" have evolved historically, in specific how much influence from classical music has been an essential part of the latter. Should mention that Derogatis' book uses the classical influence to draw the line between progressive rock and psychedelic rock instead, the latter I'm certainly fine with regarding as a "cultural movement" at least as much as a style of music.
I'm not sure how the catagorizations evolved for real. It was stated on this thread that "Art Rock" was the American term for Progressive Rock. I do recall this being true during the early 70's. The influence of Classical music in Prog from the very start was a study of sorts. The idea surfaced somehow to fuse actual Classical music with a Rock style. Anyone from the 70's who desired to accomplish that goal had to play Classical music on an instrument to begin with. Some Classical music was actually stolen/borrowed to create Prog signature lines. In the same way that the band Yes lifted the theme for "Rawhide" or whatever T.V. western it was....for the intro to "Yours Is No Disgrace". The intro to "The Prophet" on Time and a Word is lifted from either Holst or some compose I can't recall?......but anyway....the original idea was either to fuse Classical and Rock...making it obvious or writing music in such a way that no one was able to detect anything lifted at all. That is something defined as "practices" which "practices" are like secret knowledge. It's the method of designing something so well that the average person or even music fanatic cannot spot the notes that are pulled from a Classical composers piece. Musicians I knew during the 70's prog era....either took lessons for Classical ..which sometimes meant attending a university or already were Classically trained. Either way, they desired to fuse Classical music with Rock so they could tour, and perform in a Progressive Rock band.
Back to Top
Toaster Mantis View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: April 12 2008
Location: Denmark
Status: Offline
Points: 5898
Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 27 2013 at 15:11
I completely forgot what Manuel mentioned, that quite a few of the musicians initially classified as "progressive rock" rejected the categorization! (also Jethro Tull among them) Which is probably relevant to the discussion.
"The past is not some static being, it is not a previous present, nor a present that has passed away; the past has its own dynamic being which is constantly renewed and renewing." - Claire Colebrook
Back to Top
infocat View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member
Avatar
VIP Member

Joined: June 10 2011
Location: Colorado, USA
Status: Offline
Points: 4666
Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 27 2013 at 21:17
I dunno...  It seems to me if you're going to get this strict about it you're going to eliminate most of space/psych, all of crossover, Krautrock, Progressive Electronic, most of Canterbury, half of Heavy Prog, Prog Folk, much of post-rock, all of math rock, and most of the prog metal subs.  And of course "Jazz Fusion is not Rock".

You'd probably be left with just Symph, perhaps it's (b*****d?) child Neo Prog, RPI (mostly Symph anyway!), most of RIO/Avant, Zeuhl and much of Eclectic.  Is that what you really want?  Not I!
--
Frank Swarbrick
Belief is not Truth.
Back to Top
Ambient Hurricanes View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: December 25 2011
Location: internet
Status: Offline
Points: 2549
Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 27 2013 at 21:41
I personally define progressive rock as "a complex form of rock music that fuses rock with non-rock genres such as jazz, classical, and folk."  I think that this definition includes a wide variety of bands while also being sufficiently exclusive: it accommodates every sub-genre on this site but also sets boundaries, i.e. you can't just play a folk song with electric guitar and drums and call it prog (because of the required element of complexity) but you also can't just write a complicated rock song and call it prog (because of the required element of non-rock elements in the music). 

This definition isn't perfect, and of course strict definitions like this really don't do justice to the way humans categorize things, but I think it is the best short explanation you can give, and I find it helpful to use when explaining to people what progressive rock is.  It doesn't include every band on this site but it covers most of them.  The article about prog posted on on PA (linked from the PA homepage) is a very good long-form explanation of the elements of progressive rock, in my opinion.

So in short, no, I don't think classical elements are needed to classify a musical piece/artist as progressive rock.  But I do think that non-rock influences (classical or otherwise) need to be present.
I love dogs, I've always loved dogs
Back to Top
genbanks View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: April 08 2010
Location: Argentina
Status: Offline
Points: 956
Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 27 2013 at 22:02
I could say that every piece of rock with classical music influences would be Progressive Rock, but to be progressive rock is not necesary to have classical music influences.
Back to Top
Atavachron View Drop Down
Special Collaborator
Special Collaborator
Avatar
Honorary Collaborator

Joined: September 30 2006
Location: Pearland
Status: Offline
Points: 61013
Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 27 2013 at 22:27
No, but it helps.

Back to Top
Toaster Mantis View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: April 12 2008
Location: Denmark
Status: Offline
Points: 5898
Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 28 2013 at 04:38
Originally posted by infocat infocat wrote:

I dunno...  It seems to me if you're going to get this strict about it you're going to eliminate most of space/psych, all of crossover, Krautrock, Progressive Electronic, most of Canterbury, half of Heavy Prog, Prog Folk, much of post-rock, all of math rock, and most of the prog metal subs.  And of course "Jazz Fusion is not Rock".

You'd probably be left with just Symph, perhaps it's (b*****d?) child Neo Prog, RPI (mostly Symph anyway!), most of RIO/Avant, Zeuhl and much of Eclectic.  Is that what you really want?  Not I!


Just a clarification: I don't want to get this strict, indeed it's the first and more inclusive definition I subscribe to myself! The second definition I mention is one I often encounter often in debates about genre definitions, though, and I've been familiar with it ever since reading Derogatis' book. I took it with a grain of salt there, however, because he's a bit inconsistent about applying it.

But yes, the "no prog without classical influence" crowd I've discussed with in person do indeed insist that ProgArchives is way too inclusive whenever the subject comes up.
"The past is not some static being, it is not a previous present, nor a present that has passed away; the past has its own dynamic being which is constantly renewed and renewing." - Claire Colebrook
Back to Top
Atavachron View Drop Down
Special Collaborator
Special Collaborator
Avatar
Honorary Collaborator

Joined: September 30 2006
Location: Pearland
Status: Offline
Points: 61013
Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 28 2013 at 05:08
Originally posted by Toaster Mantis Toaster Mantis wrote:

But yes, the "no prog without classical influence" crowd I've discussed with in person do indeed insist that ProgArchives is way too inclusive whenever the subject comes up.

Not surprising somehow, but who exactly are these numbskulls?   Sounds like some fifteen year-olds who heard Yes just last year and assume if something is complex and arranged it must be based on Classical.  

Back to Top
Toaster Mantis View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: April 12 2008
Location: Denmark
Status: Offline
Points: 5898
Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 28 2013 at 05:16
Several people I know on Facebook, who are in their 30s and are actually pretty knowledgeable about rock music as a result of being in bands themselves... they've probably been into progressive music for longer than I have!

(and, no, none of them have made that argument you describe about complex arrangements always being a sign of classical influence)


Edited by Toaster Mantis - December 28 2013 at 08:22
"The past is not some static being, it is not a previous present, nor a present that has passed away; the past has its own dynamic being which is constantly renewed and renewing." - Claire Colebrook
Back to Top
Atavachron View Drop Down
Special Collaborator
Special Collaborator
Avatar
Honorary Collaborator

Joined: September 30 2006
Location: Pearland
Status: Offline
Points: 61013
Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 28 2013 at 05:22
I would say Classical helps in the way that all musics help Prog; which is to say it doesn't hurt.  

Back to Top
rogerthat View Drop Down
Prog Reviewer
Prog Reviewer


Joined: September 03 2006
Location: .
Status: Offline
Points: 9799
Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 28 2013 at 05:48
I am not sure people who subscribe to the second definition of prog rock realise exactly how restrictive it is.  They too ultimately rely more on elimination (of structure or approach that is too close to basic rock and roll music) than an exact application of sonata structure, i.e, anything that is long winded, somewhat complex and not just a jam is prog rock.  

I should also add that elucidation of complex melodic or harmonic ideas is not the sole preserve of classical music.  It is very much prevalent in jazz, just depends on what jazz you are thinking of.  The similarities between say Blue Rondo a la Truck (Brubeck) and The Collapso (National Health) are easy to see and if The Collapso is not prog, I don't know what is. 
Back to Top
Rick Robson View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: September 03 2013
Location: Rio de Janeiro
Status: Offline
Points: 1607
Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 28 2013 at 07:19
Rogerthat said: "I should also add that elucidation of complex melodic or harmonic ideas is not the sole preserve of classical music. It is very much prevalent in jazz"
 
Jazz, Blues... one of the first and essential roots of the Rock & Roll. Unfortunately, I've never been really interested in that genres, I know almost nothing of about that. However I would like to know which pieces of Jazz have much prevalent complex melodic or harmonic ideas... I think that would be the better way to introduce myself in these genres, by the way what's the difference beteween "Rythm & Blues" and "Soul"?


Edited by Rick Robson - December 28 2013 at 07:22
Back to Top
rogerthat View Drop Down
Prog Reviewer
Prog Reviewer


Joined: September 03 2006
Location: .
Status: Offline
Points: 9799
Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 28 2013 at 07:25
I think you could start with that Dave Brubeck piece I mentioned, or the album as such - Time Out.  More so because Brubeck is an acknowledged influence on prog rock.  

As for the difference between soul and R&B, I am not very clear myself because my interest in either does not begin before at least the late 60s whereas the differences were probably laid down a bit earlier.  I reckon R&B is the older genre and soul is essentially a more vocal based and gospel influenced variety of R&B. 
Back to Top
Rick Robson View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: September 03 2013
Location: Rio de Janeiro
Status: Offline
Points: 1607
Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 28 2013 at 07:28
Originally posted by rogerthat rogerthat wrote:

I think you could start with that Dave Brubeck piece I mentioned, or the album as such - Time Out.  More so because Brubeck is an acknowledged influence on prog rock.  

As for the difference between soul and R&B, I am not very clear myself because my interest in either does not begin before at least the late 60s whereas the differences were probably laid down a bit earlier.  I reckon R&B is the older genre and soul is essentially a more vocal based and gospel influenced variety of R&B. 
 
 
Thank you.
Back to Top
Guldbamsen View Drop Down
Special Collaborator
Special Collaborator
Avatar
Retired Admin

Joined: January 22 2009
Location: Magic Theatre
Status: Offline
Points: 22827
Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 28 2013 at 09:05
I've read Derogatis' book and while I find it curiously interesting, I think he gets hung up on all the wrong things. He should've kept the focus on the music instead of getting into all the different stickers. Just my opinion though, but the more time I spend on PA, the more I realise how many different understandings folks have of these 'genres', 'styles', 'stickers', 'movements' and so forth. What people thought of as Art Rock back in the day is now something completely different, and the same goes for Prog and Krautrock. Personally I've never considered the latter as Prog - nor do I find a lot of what you'll find in psych, avant, electronic and zeuhl, to be Prog. They're branchings of an extremely imaginative surge of music that first started out in the late 60s and therefore fit quite nicely up in this mother.....but I'd never call the music Prog.

Edited by Guldbamsen - December 28 2013 at 09:06
“The Guide says there is an art to flying or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”

- Douglas Adams
Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply Page  123 13>

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down

Forum Software by Web Wiz Forums® version 11.01
Copyright ©2001-2014 Web Wiz Ltd.

This page was generated in 0.289 seconds.

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.