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Topic ClosedIs classical influence essential to prog rock?

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King Crimson776 View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 30 2013 at 01:24
Originally posted by HackettFan HackettFan wrote:

No one has explained how it is the Canterbury groups don't outright disprove the second definition of Prog incorporating classical influence. I have never heard of any controversy about Canterbury being Prog. Also, since Frank Zappa has clear, self-professed, and plainly evident classical influences, Zappa should regarded as more prototypically progressive than the Canterbury school. This is the opposite of what most people would say intuitively. I'm more than happy to include Zappa in my classification of Prog (the very first of his kind), but I concur with intuitions that Identify him as less prototypical.

BTW, US bands, such as Zappa's, were always referred to distinctly as "Art Rock" in my experience. I had never heard of British bands referred to with that term in the US, as a prior post asserted.

No one explained how they disprove anything. I don't see how anyone could not perceive the classical influence in Canterbury. The classical influence is the biggest reason they sound like they do instead of like Steely Dan, or heck, Naked City. Perhaps Gong is borderline much of the time, kind of in the same way that Floyd is. Somewhat related, Mahavishnu also has classical influence, although I wouldn't call them prog because they are more jazz than rock.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 30 2013 at 07:50
Originally posted by HackettFan HackettFan wrote:

No one has explained how it is the Canterbury groups don't outright disprove the second definition of Prog incorporating classical influence. I have never heard of any controversy about Canterbury being Prog. Also, since Frank Zappa has clear, self-professed, and plainly evident classical influences, Zappa should regarded as more prototypically progressive than the Canterbury school. This is the opposite of what most people would say intuitively. I'm more than happy to include Zappa in my classification of Prog (the very first of his kind), but I concur with intuitions that Identify him as less prototypical.
...
 
Which has been my point for some time. There are other influences that come up that has made it to "progressive" music, as much as they made it to anywhere else. I think that we're trying to dumb down the information and take the credit away from their proper creative folks, in some ways.
 
For example:
1. I would say that Canterbury was more influenced by jazz and free form thing that arose out of the "beat poetry" thing. And a lot of their work had some humor, though when we listen sometimes we don't think it's funny. But in the end, the main thing with Canterbury is the educational ability of many of these people. College at the very least, and the whole scene still thrives more on the college circuit than anything else, I bet!
 
2. Krautrock, had its first members in a very highly rated music school, whose famous dictum was "no western music concepts" and even had folks like Ravi Shankar for instructors as well as a veritable horde of well known names in classical music. And these folks were talking about creating things that had no "western music concepts". We constantly ignore that.
 
3.The individuality of a person, also tends to diffuse their inspirations. We don't sit here and say that Jimi was inspired by Bod Dylan, when we hear "All Along the Watchtower", and this is more of a factor of the visualization within an individual and how they interpret the words, than it is a bona fide concept or idea that came from a school or your head or mine. A lot of "progressive" music, specially in the early days, was HIGHLY personal and well defined, in their hopes, and terms, but we do not accept that third dimention in the music, and how it colored a few words.
 
4. Cultural mixes. We don't look at Alan Stivell, for example, as progressive, when in effect his mixes in rock, jazz and classical are down right insane and a very MODERN way of looking at his own history. Even in his own circles he is not considered a traditionalist, and has to pop a silly borring traditional album, so people think that he means it. It's one of the perfect examples, how a commercial aspect can literally destroy a person's personna. Like rock music can do keltic, or some bizarre notion along those lines, and it all has to be sanitized like that .... woman!
 
5. Film. The visual media has helped music a lot, and in fact, ended up bringing us things like MTV, so we would get a better idea (supposedly) of what the music was about. This, of course, became the new Playboy/Penthouse magazines for fans and sales.
 
6. World Events. The Moon thing on tv, and radio, and newspapers, got a lot of folks thinking about ideas and themes that had to do with things outside the earth and its solar system. Likewise one of the biggest influences in the late 60's was the anti-war sentiment that went against the VietNam and IRA thing, and other places. The "visibility" of these created a "new reality" that we still are hiding from and refuse to admit and accept!


Edited by moshkito - December 30 2013 at 08:05
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 30 2013 at 08:08
Originally posted by King Crimson776 King Crimson776 wrote:

Originally posted by HackettFan HackettFan wrote:

No one has explained how it is the Canterbury groups don't outright disprove the second definition of Prog incorporating classical influence. I have never heard of any controversy about Canterbury being Prog. Also, since Frank Zappa has clear, self-professed, and plainly evident classical influences, Zappa should regarded as more prototypically progressive than the Canterbury school. This is the opposite of what most people would say intuitively. I'm more than happy to include Zappa in my classification of Prog (the very first of his kind), but I concur with intuitions that Identify him as less prototypical.

BTW, US bands, such as Zappa's, were always referred to distinctly as "Art Rock" in my experience. I had never heard of British bands referred to with that term in the US, as a prior post asserted.

No one explained how they disprove anything. I don't see how anyone could not perceive the classical influence in Canterbury. The classical influence is the biggest reason they sound like they do instead of like Steely Dan, or heck, Naked City. Perhaps Gong is borderline much of the time, kind of in the same way that Floyd is. Somewhat related, Mahavishnu also has classical influence, although I wouldn't call them prog because they are more jazz than rock.
Interesting points! For a more detailed insight...observe closely (as I have), the chord voicings along with distinctive melody lines written for Zappa's Hot Rats and several other instrumental Zappa albums. Notice how clearly the style is more Canterbury than anything else which comes to mind. Very distant from the style of chord voicings and melody lines in the music of Steely Dan. On a day with free time, listen to Hot Rats and The Grand Wazoo....then play the first Hatfield and the North, Egg...the Polite Force, and some National Health. Not meant to be a judgement on Dave Stewart...only a curious observation.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 30 2013 at 08:18
In some cases the toccata is an improvised form in a variation set. In a case like this the improvisatory spirit is meant to come through. Also in sections of Classical music that are already embellished. Not being obscured by what happens around it because the basic rhythms are mildly displaced. In some Classical pieces the composer allows interpretive leeway. This exists in Prog where musicians provide subtle dynamic manipulation. That is a connection between Classical and Prog.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 30 2013 at 08:33
Originally posted by TODDLER TODDLER wrote:

... For a more detailed insight...observe closely (as I have), the chord voicings along with distinctive melody lines written for Zappa's Hot Rats and several other instrumental Zappa albums. Notice how clearly the style is more Canterbury than anything else which comes to mind. Very distant from the style of chord voicings and melody lines in the music of Steely Dan. On a day with free time, listen to Hot Rats and The Grand Wazoo....then play the first Hatfield and the North, Egg...the Polite Force, and some National Health. Not meant to be a judgement on Dave Stewart...only a curious observation.
 
Agreed.
 
But it also tells you, that we heard a lot more music and different things, than we know, understand or have any idea what they might or might not be.
 
I don't believe that Frankl Zappa spent his time listening to anything and everything. I actually think, that he was more attuned to the individual sounds of an instrument, and how it could be used, than he was in listening to anyone else, most of which was the boring'est sh*t you ever known and he said that. But a Varese, was good copy and conversation, because no one ever heard of him, or had any idea what that music sounded like at all! We should do a perscentage here, and I would say 10 to 15% are familiar with it, but I doubt they (and even I) really understand the connections to anything else out there, including Frank Zappa!
 
Dave Stewart is no spring chicken, and is highly educated musically, and I doubt that he needed to hear Frank Zappa to do something, when he could put on Schoenberg and Rachmaninoff (sp.) and get more interesting ideas to put a guitar to! Think about that for a second! By comparison, Frank was more reacting to the local things than anything else and making fun of them. Sometimes, in those early days, I kinda thought it wasn't so much about the music as it was flicking his finger at anything and everything!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 30 2013 at 11:32
Originally posted by Ambient Hurricanes Ambient Hurricanes wrote:

Originally posted by silverpot silverpot wrote:

Originally posted by Ambient Hurricanes Ambient Hurricanes wrote:



-videos deleted to save space-

Classical music is alive and well.


This is interesting indeed,but in what way is this to be considered "classical"? The instrumentation, the presence of a conductor? Or is it just classical in opposition to popular?
Can modern music be "classical"? Personally I'm more inclined to call it art music.


I'm using "classical" in the popular sense of the word that refers to music in the classical western tradition of performance, instrumentation, etc. from Palestrina to Bartok and the like.  I'm aware that "classical" refers to a specific period of western "art music" but it's used often in it's broader sense and unless I'm mistaken, that's the sense in which presdoug was using it (since he included 20th century composers and others after the classical period).


Maybe we should call it "prog classical". LOL
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 04 2014 at 08:50
Originally posted by silverpot silverpot wrote:


Originally posted by Ambient Hurricanes Ambient Hurricanes wrote:


Originally posted by silverpot silverpot wrote:


Originally posted by Ambient Hurricanes Ambient Hurricanes wrote:



-videos deleted to save space-Classical music is alive and well.



This is interesting indeed,but in what way is this to be considered "classical"? The instrumentation, the presence of a conductor? Or is it just classical in opposition to popular? Can modern music be "classical"? Personally I'm more inclined to call it art music.
I'm using "classical" in the popular sense of the word that refers to music in the classical western tradition of performance, instrumentation, etc. from Palestrina to Bartok and the like.  I'm aware that "classical" refers to
a specific period of western "art music" but it's used often in it's broader sense and unless I'm mistaken, that's the sense in which presdoug was using it (since he included 20th century composers and others after the classical period).
Maybe we should call it "prog classical". LOL


Well. Specifics are important. so I guess that is what this thread is about.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 04 2014 at 11:33
Originally posted by TODDLER TODDLER wrote:

Interesting points! For a more detailed insight...observe closely (as I have), the chord voicings along with distinctive melody lines written for Zappa's Hot Rats and several other instrumental Zappa albums. Notice how clearly the style is more Canterbury than anything else which comes to mind. Very distant from the style of chord voicings and melody lines in the music of Steely Dan. On a day with free time, listen to Hot Rats and The Grand Wazoo....then play the first Hatfield and the North, Egg...the Polite Force, and some National Health. Not meant to be a judgement on Dave Stewart...only a curious observation.
 
I would have a look ... I think that FZ's stuff was around way before the Canterbury stuff became so well developed and famous.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 04 2014 at 20:25
Originally posted by moshkito moshkito wrote:

Originally posted by TODDLER TODDLER wrote:

Interesting points! For a more detailed insight...observe closely (as I have), the chord voicings along with distinctive melody lines written for Zappa's Hot Rats and several other instrumental Zappa albums. Notice how clearly the style is more Canterbury than anything else which comes to mind. Very distant from the style of chord voicings and melody lines in the music of Steely Dan. On a day with free time, listen to Hot Rats and The Grand Wazoo....then play the first Hatfield and the North, Egg...the Polite Force, and some National Health. Not meant to be a judgement on Dave Stewart...only a curious observation.
 
I would have a look ... I think that FZ's stuff was around way before the Canterbury stuff became so well developed and famous.
Unsure if Zappa was influential to the development of Canterbury as it remains a observation which possibly..may have not been written about by a journalist. Therefore it doesn't fly with some folks until it has been circulated through publication. I could be wrong, but I've never read about it just noticed it. It also depends what style of jazz you've gone the distance with. Many Jazz musicians base their compositions and improvisation around a choice of how they personally desire to play. Some Jazz musicians play in a more Classical vain regarding their tone, choice of phrasing/expression and I believe Zappa and most Canterbury artists fall into that realm. It's a strange melodic style that creates visions in your mind.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 05 2014 at 00:52
What I find weird is when certain bands/ artists are classified as progressive rock when they have little to no rock element in their music. Mike Oldfield's first four albums have little to no rock element in them, I would say. There are clear rock influences at times, but I would be much quicker to call his early works modern classical music than rock. I've only heard Univers Zero's first album, but I heard it described as "chamber rock". I would just call it contemporary chamber music with electric instruments.

Labels might not really matter, but I still think it's interesting that these bands (I'm guessing) were promoted toward a popular music/ rock music audience. I'm not actually sure how they were promoted, but I'm wondering how, for instance, Tangerine Dream was advertised back in the day. Does anyone happen to know? If they were sold in catalogs side by side with other Virgin rock bands, why exactly did they get lumped in with the rock audience as opposed to a classical audience? Or why not both (if they weren't)?

I don't know if this is too off topic, but what do other people think about this? 


Edited by N-sz - January 05 2014 at 00:53
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 05 2014 at 06:43
Originally posted by TODDLER TODDLER wrote:

 
Unsure if Zappa was influential to the development of Canterbury

He was, very much so. Soft Machine were inspired by his Absolutely Free album when they made their second album. Softs' Vol. 2 was itself a huge influence on later Canterbury; I doubt bands like Hatfield and National Health would even exist without the influence of Vol. 2.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 05 2014 at 10:52
Originally posted by zravkapt zravkapt wrote:

Originally posted by TODDLER TODDLER wrote:

 
Unsure if Zappa was influential to the development of Canterbury

He was, very much so. Soft Machine were inspired by his Absolutely Free album when they made their second album. Softs' Vol. 2 was itself a huge influence on later Canterbury; I doubt bands like Hatfield and National Health would even exist without the influence of Vol. 2.
 
Actually I will buy that. But remember that The Beatles, and specifically John Lennon had already got everyone's mind looking and thinking about Frank Zappa way back further than any of this stuff. I do think that the "Canterbury" thing had a very big string of "California" written all over it, that might have come from Frank Zappa, but in the end, it will have come from other writers and much further back, that helped put that whole scene on the map.
 
I actually think that the literature associated with "the beat poetry and writers" thing is as much of an important concept in developing "Canterbury" as Fran Zappa ever was. The thread of free form, and fun, was one of the biggest things in many of the "beat poets', even though, by the time you get to Ginsburg things appear to be more serious.
 
Frank Zappa, for the most part in his early days, was extremely "reactive" to the scene around him and made fun of things left and right, from commercials to songs, to the actual scene around him, and in this sense he is much less inspired by anything else, than what was around him. BUT, I can not say that Frank was not well read or studied, which he likely was to a point, but I don't think that as much of it influenced him. He certainly was not a part of the drug scene that was also around, and later, his house was the veritable drug rehab center for many artists and famous folks, to give you an idea of his character, or at least his wife's. But I doubt that someone like Mr. Further would have spent a minute or two with Frank or vice versa. Frank would have preferred meeting Varese, which we still do not know how it factors in Frank's music! 


Edited by moshkito - January 05 2014 at 10:59
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 05 2014 at 11:04
Originally posted by zravkapt zravkapt wrote:

Originally posted by TODDLER TODDLER wrote:

 
Unsure if Zappa was influential to the development of Canterbury

He was, very much so. Soft Machine were inspired by his Absolutely Free album when they made their second album. Softs' Vol. 2 was itself a huge influence on later Canterbury; I doubt bands like Hatfield and National Health would even exist without the influence of Vol. 2.
There's no doubt that these artists were listening to each others music and were influenced by the various styles and the Soft Machine were one of the first ,if not the first, to play 'Canterbury' styled prog jazz /rock music, however we define that. And bands always/usually build on what came before so saying a band wouldn't exist is really not a fair statement. That's like saying no 'pop rock' would have ever existed with out the Beatles. 
 
Have any of the early Canterbury musicians ever said what their  influences were in print..?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 05 2014 at 11:33
Originally posted by N-sz N-sz wrote:

Labels might not really matter, but I still think it's interesting that these bands (I'm guessing) were promoted toward a popular music/ rock music audience. I'm not actually sure how they were promoted, but I'm wondering how, for instance, Tangerine Dream was advertised back in the day. Does anyone happen to know? If they were sold in catalogs side by side with other Virgin rock bands, why exactly did they get lumped in with the rock audience as opposed to a classical audience? Or why not both (if they weren't)?


I think they along with similar artists from the same subculture were referred to as "Cosmic music" by Ohr, precisely they came at progressive and psychedelic music from a completely different angle than most of the UK/US groups that it didn't make sense to evaluate them the same way. I've seen some of the original advertisements for the first TD LPs in the booklets to the recent reissues.

Which reminds me, I've dug up a 1974 encyclopedia of rock music published in Denmark which defines "progressive rock" as referring to the more technically well-grounded and ambitious styles of rock with often experimental characters. The specific examples given are Frank Zappa, The Moody Blues and The Soft Machine. Doesn't make any reference to classical influence being an integral element, though.

However, it is interesting that Pink Floyd are specifically mentioned as psychedelic and not progressive.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 06 2014 at 09:57
Originally posted by N-sz N-sz wrote:

What I find weird is when certain bands/ artists are classified as progressive rock when they have little to no rock element in their music. Mike Oldfield's first four albums have little to no rock element in them, I would say. There are clear rock influences at times, but I would be much quicker to call his early works modern classical music than rock. I've only heard Univers Zero's first album, but I heard it described as "chamber rock". I would just call it contemporary chamber music with electric instruments.
 Not so. Well, not true to me because Oldfield does play a Rock style on guitar. He plays passages in Irish jigs/pieces that are technical , but he also playes the Pentatonic Blues scale quite often.
Labels might not really matter, but I still think it's interesting that these bands (I'm guessing) were promoted toward a popular music/ rock music audience. I'm not actually sure how they were promoted, but I'm wondering how, for instance, Tangerine Dream was advertised back in the day. Does anyone happen to know? If they were sold in catalogs side by side with other Virgin rock bands, why exactly did they get lumped in with the rock audience as opposed to a classical audience? Or why not both (if they weren't)?

I don't know if this is too off topic, but what do other people think about this? 
Tangerine Dream were promoted and I am unsure to what extent that promotion took on...but I recall Rock fans having an interest in the band's light show and those fans were reminded of the light show saw with Pink Floyd. Tangerine Dream were popular in Philadelphia when they were played on WXPN's after hours progressive radio show in the 70's and 80's. Nightcrawlers and a bunch of Philadelphia Electronic duo's were signed to low budget labels and stealing the sound of T.D. Tangerine Dream were a bit of a craze for a larger crowd because of the way they presented themselves as a band...the lightshow, Edgar Froese taking longer guitar solo's on Encore, distortion on the guitar, ....impressed people who were interested more...in just plain , simple..Rock music.


Edited by TODDLER - January 06 2014 at 10:00
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 06 2014 at 10:13
Tangerine Dream were promoted and got plenty of record distribution through Jem Imports. Jem Imports was located on Kennedy Blvd. in South and North Plainfield N.J. They existed through the 70's and most of the 80's. A fellow named Marty ...from England use to sell import albums of prog and electronic music out of the back of his station wagon. He built his business from that point to full time distribution of progressive music across the U.S. He pushed Tangerine Dream's music across the U.S. helping the band to gain a following. Archie Patterson who was once associated with Greenworld on the west coast, promoted progressive rock and electronic music through his reviews and interviews with the artists. He also had a magazine titled Eurock. He had everything to do with a band like Tangerine Dream rising above the underground.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 06 2014 at 10:13
I don't recall any classical influences in the later progressive, as opposed to psychedelic, Man.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 31 2014 at 23:47
Yes. In order for anything top progress it must draw upon ideas and the harmonic ideas in the various areas of classical music are vast. These get used in a variety of ways in rock,. Adaptions by Keith Emerson, orchestations such as the mellotron influence that created a soundscape back drop to the songs. These inspired extended works which had various developments that are akin to classical (gentle Giant, moody Blues).

Now there is a tendency for modern prog rock to eschew classical influences. If you want to hear some of the greatest ever harmonic developments (Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty, Beethoven's 6th Symphony) then there you go.

The rock influence in classical has been less so as most rock is defined by the drum beat and the constraints of the constant meter. I found an example of classical that had me thinking that musically for the first two movements Deep Purple say, could have been capable of it, but the 3rd movement of Beethoven's Kreutzer Piano Sonata (9th) required more performance and technical capability than even Purple; it's quite something.

The things is, most music exists to express something that another form could not. Which is why Miles Davis and Coltrane had their propulsive forward thinking ever searching ideas. And Miles found himself in the rock world... 

Classical music is orchestral music. Violins exist to replace voices. The links between Stravinsky, UZ, Henry Cow and FZ are evident, baroque music and Tull, this odd unification progressed rock. Imagination took hold of rock for a while.

But in order for music to survive it has to fit in with it's audience. So prog rock has dispensed with classical (hence the way the Golden Era is identified) and how newer acts can connect with a new pop audience whose time and attentions are limited and varied. Plus rock and pop are youth music but anything classical is not - in culture terms.

So progressive rock is progressive music for rock music (as a genre). Oddly in pop culture terms the two worlds are apart and the snobbishness on both sides serves to alienate. Unless you're a bloody minded sort who does not give a flying fornication for this and prefers to enjoy whatever music. Like someone I know...
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 01 2014 at 04:05
Originally posted by N-sz N-sz wrote:

What I find weird is when certain bands/ artists are classified as progressive rock when they have little to no rock element in their music. Mike Oldfield's first four albums have little to no rock element in them, I would say. There are clear rock influences at times, but I would be much quicker to call his early works modern classical music than rock. I've only heard Univers Zero's first album, but I heard it described as "chamber rock". I would just call it contemporary chamber music with electric instruments.

Labels might not really matter, but I still think it's interesting that these bands (I'm guessing) were promoted toward a popular music/ rock music audience. I'm not actually sure how they were promoted, but I'm wondering how, for instance, Tangerine Dream was advertised back in the day. Does anyone happen to know? If they were sold in catalogs side by side with other Virgin rock bands, why exactly did they get lumped in with the rock audience as opposed to a classical audience? Or why not both (if they weren't)?

I don't know if this is too off topic, but what do other people think about this? 
I think it's because of the tendency to "classify" bands or composers of these categories into a Prog Rock subgenre. If this is well applied let's then separate Prog from Prog Rock and so create a new subgenre: "Prog". In my opinion, you don't see any other music genre with so much "subgenres" like Prog Rock.


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 01 2014 at 04:28
There are not too many electric instruments on the first UZ album. Anyway progressive rock is not really rock and roll. Mike Oldfield uses rock in his (version of) classical music much the same way as Abba use rock in their pop music. And Mike covered Arrival, and Abba's Intermezzo Number 1 can give ELP  a run for their prog money. (My suspiciously sound knowledge of Abba is due to my sister being an Abba nut and she nad our mother disliking Intermezzo while I briefly interrupted my admiration of Heep's Sweet Freedom to check that out).

UZ use rock in their music. Not sure how the classical establishment view UZ. It should be on musical terms but we can be snobs just the same as the rest of us (sic). They are more classical composers using rock, a sort of flip side of the prog rock ideal of a rock band using classical ideas to arrange knew pieces.

Progressive rock is a means of getting musically somewhere rather than by sticking to roots oriented music. Prog rock should not really have roots type music in it; it's supposed to be a fusion of disparate elements to a cohesive whole. Sometimes this works. Wink 
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