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Storytelling or illustrative component of Prog

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Topic: Storytelling or illustrative component of Prog
Posted By: HackettFan
Subject: Storytelling or illustrative component of Prog
Date Posted: December 24 2012 at 11:47
This is a thread I wanted to post for a long time.
Some music is more than intriguing music from a musical perspective. It tells a story. It might narrate a story with lyrics, but most importantly it illustrates a story with the meandering instrumentation and composition. What Peter Gabriel called "journey songs". Note that I'm talking about stories driven by the whole composition, not just any run of the mill ballad, although lyrics can be a part of it. With purely instrumental pieces one may not be able to identify and report on specific story events, but there's an impression of events transpiring. Jade Warrior-Floating World is an example; entirely instrumental, but if you squint just right and allow yourself to daydream... Gong had a strong storytelling capacity, especially on You. Most of old Genesis would do it as a matter of course, and I think that's a big part of why people, including me, disdain later Genesis so vehemently. It wasn't just the change in the music but the loss of the stories, the folklore. I think that's why some old Genesis fans are more gracious toward Duke, because it had Duke's Travels on it, which is a perfect example of a piece with a story being told. We don't know what the story is, but there's a story nonetheless.

Storytelling is not a part of the PA definition of Prog. Some bands are great musically, but show no interest in storytelling. I'm thinking of ELP or Soft Machine, for example. Should the illustrative capacity of music be thought of as at least an optional component of Prog? What is its general significance to Classic Prog and how does it fare in Modern Prog?



Replies:
Posted By: Wafflesyrup
Date Posted: December 24 2012 at 13:03
I suppose my own perspective would be that all music inherently tells a story. Ranging from a child's book, to a novel, to a Hustler or Cosmo magazine. There's a story in there somewhere.

I do enjoy reading me a good novel moreso than anything else though, that's for sure.


Posted By: Slartibartfast
Date Posted: December 24 2012 at 13:06
Don't negelect instrumentals that tell a story.  Case in point are a lot of the songs (I know I know some people are going to say how instrumentals can't be songs Big smile) on this:



What got into prog in the first place was what you refer to as the storytelling component.  Of course just my luck I got heavily into prog just when that was being abandoned in favor of commercial appeal.


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Posted By: HackettFan
Date Posted: December 24 2012 at 14:09
Originally posted by Slartibartfast


Don't negelect instrumentals that tell a story.  Case in point are a lot of the songs (I know I know some people are going to say how instrumentals can't be songs Big smile) on this:<div id="ViewerDiv">What got into prog in the first place was what you refer to as the storytelling component.  Of course just my luck I got heavily into prog just when that was being abandoned in favor of commercial appeal.

Well, actually so did I. I graduated from highschool in 1984. Never enamored by 80s music, some exceptions. Instrumentals can definitely tell a story, I agree.


Posted By: Polymorphia
Date Posted: December 24 2012 at 14:32
Most prog is heavily influenced by the Romantic composers whose music strongly communicated a passing of time. Many prog artists combine actual storytelling with this aesthetic effect, which may cause one to associate the psychological time aspect with the folklore or image of an artist.

Take Yes as an example. "Close to the Edge" conveys a passage of time and change of setting, yet the lyrics are abstract and introspective leading the listener to conclude the song is about a big personal change. "Close to the Edge" refers to being close to a huge "self-discovery," as Jon Anderson puts it.

Or take an example of the opposite. Classical composer Olivier Messiaen wrote music that "suspended" psychological time, so to speak. His works were mainly religious and the suspension of psychological time was used to communicate eternity. Almost all of his music was this way.





Posted By: Slartibartfast
Date Posted: December 24 2012 at 14:55
If you want a story here are a couple of other "obscure" albums I like a lot:
Story of I



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Posted By: Ambient Hurricanes
Date Posted: December 24 2012 at 20:45
Originally posted by Wafflesyrup

I suppose my own perspective would be that all music inherently tells a story.


I think that all music tells at least part of a story, not necessarily an entire narrative.  Of course, some composers bring this element of music out more than others.  One of my favorite examples has always been 2112 by Rush; the lyrics tell a story, obviously, but the instrumental sections, especially Lifeson's guitar solos, are just as integral an aspect of the narrative as are the lyrics.  Alex plays five solos on the song.  The first one, along with the rest of the Overture, sets the stage for the story by instrumentally conveying the back history of the war in which the Solar Federation took control of the galaxy.  The second solo chronicles the protagonist's discovery of the guitar and process of learning to play it.  The third solo depicts the Priests' destruction of the guitar, while the fourth primarily functions to express the emotion of the protagonist afterwards.  The fifth solo, and the entire grand finale, depict another battle for control of the galaxy; Lifeson's solo sounds exactly like a dogfight.  Alex's ability to tell stories with his guitar is astounding.


-------------
In blood, he's writing the lyrics of a brand new tune.


Posted By: HackettFan
Date Posted: December 24 2012 at 22:24
Originally posted by Ambient Hurricanes


Originally posted by Wafflesyrup

I suppose my own perspective would be that all music inherently tells a story.
I think that all music tells at least part of a story, not necessarily an entire narrative.  Of course, some composers bring this element of music out more than others.  One of my favorite examples has always been 2112 by Rush; the lyrics tell a story, obviously, but the instrumental sections, especially Lifeson's guitar solos, are just as integral an aspect of the narrative as are the lyrics.  Alex plays five solos on the song.  The first one, along with the rest of the Overture, sets the stage for the story by instrumentally conveying the back history of the war in which the Solar Federation took control of the galaxy.  The second solo chronicles the protagonist's discovery of the guitar and process of learning to play it.  The third solo depicts the Priests' destruction of the guitar, while the fourth primarily functions to express the emotion of the protagonist afterwards.  The fifth solo, and the entire grand finale, depict another battle for control of the galaxy; Lifeson's solo sounds exactly like a dogfight.  Alex's ability to tell stories with his guitar is astounding.

2112 is a great example of what I'm talking about. Definitely. The instrumentation drives the story at least as much as the lyrics.

Another, I just listened to tonight was Nektar - Journey to the Center of the Eye.
It's not just about concept albums, I want to emphasize. Shorter self-contained songs about a giant hogweed or other such things might be conjuring up a story. 'Conjure' is a useful word here.


Posted By: HackettFan
Date Posted: December 26 2012 at 09:45
Originally posted by Slartibartfast


What got into prog in the first place was what you refer to as the storytelling component.  Of course just my luck I got heavily into prog just when that was being abandoned in favor of commercial appeal.


@Everyone, I'd especially love to hear how storytelling is faring in contemporary Prog, and how much you think this matters to you or to Prog. Do you think it was abandoned during the 80s decline? Do you think there has been on a comeback, or is it still lacking?


Posted By: moshkito
Date Posted: December 26 2012 at 10:52
Hi,
 
The only thing I would suggest, and some folks have already mentioned it, is that music, in many ways, creates its own "landscape" ... and its history is always about the story of something or other in its notes, for a lot of symphonies and concerti. Rock music, is really no different in this respect, with the exception that in the 20th century, we have now decided that "lyrics" are more important than the music, to the point that we think that the lyrics "take us there", but the music does not ... or we "suppose" that it does.
 
There are, over the years, a lot of things that are too beautiful to even mention here, and many years later, folks are starting to appreciate the beauty for things like "The Snow Goose" that got awfully pasted by rock critics in those days, to the point of really hurting the band's feelings and work. You have an inspiration, and someone just told you that your vision is "fudged up" ... and the next time you pick up that instrument, you will want to cry and break it apart ... how can you be given a vision, and an inspiration, and it is worthless?
 
That defines the depth and strength of an artist, instead of anything else!
 
In more recent times, like the last 10 years, I have not seen or found, too many of these ... there are plenty of imaginary titles about this or that ... but the music is ... not as defining as the event itself was, and I will not name the 2 I'm thinking of, lest people think I am trashing them. They are not bad ... they are quite idealistic, from my point of view of having studied and known the arts ... however imperfect that knowledge and ability is. My one question would be ... do you really think you can see "that story" when you take out the lyrics? ... hint: the really good music and writer, will take you there with or WITHOUT the extras ... now decide! Now, tell me, do you really need words, or music to tell you what went on in Guernica when Picasso was a kid? ... that is the idea I'm trying to get across ... the whole work speaks for itself, and does not need a "representative" or to "tell you" something, or anything ... but we are in an age of folks that lack a direction and they have to be told to listen to the top ten ... so you have to make a decision!


-------------
... none of the hits, none of the time ... you might actually find your own art, or self, and forego lousy heroes or Guru's!

www.pedrosena.com


Posted By: HackettFan
Date Posted: December 26 2012 at 16:53
Originally posted by moshkito

Hi,
 

The only thing I would suggest, and some folks have already mentioned it, is that music, in many ways, creates its own "landscape" ... and its history is always about the story of something or other in its notes, for a lot of symphonies and concerti. Rock music, is really no different in this respect, with the exception that in the 20th century, we have now decided that "lyrics" are more important than the music, to the point that we think that the lyrics "take us there", but the music does not ... or we "suppose" that it does.

 

There are, over the years, a lot of things that are too beautiful to even mention here, and many years later, folks are starting to appreciate the beauty for things like "The Snow Goose" that got awfully pasted by rock critics in those days, to the point of really hurting the band's feelings and work. You have an inspiration, and someone just told you that your vision is "fudged up" ... and the next time you pick up that instrument, you will want to cry and break it apart ... how can you be given a vision, and an inspiration, and it is worthless?

 

That defines the depth and strength of an artist, instead of anything else!

 

In more recent times, like the last 10 years, I have not seen or found, too many of these ... there are plenty of imaginary titles about this or that ... but the music is ... not as defining as the event itself was, and I will not name the 2 I'm thinking of, lest people think I am trashing them. They are not bad ... they are quite idealistic, from my point of view of having studied and known the arts ... however imperfect that knowledge and ability is. My one question would be ... do you really think you can see "that story" when you take out the lyrics? ... hint: the really good music and writer, will take you there with or WITHOUT the extras ... now decide! Now, tell me, do you really need words, or music to tell you what went on in Guernica when Picasso was a kid? ... that is the idea I'm trying to get across ... the whole work speaks for itself, and does not need a "representative" or to "tell you" something, or anything ... but we are in an age of folks that lack a direction and they have to be told to listen to the top ten ... so you have to make a decision!

I don't want to go as broad as Wafflesyrup suggested and say that all music inherently tells a story. This dilutes the point of the thread. I share your disdain for the contemporary notion that the lyrics can "take us there" while the music supposedly cannot. I definitely think there are some works that allow you to see a story in your mind's eye. (I'm talking about impressions not hallucinations here, just to head off any confusion).


Posted By: HackettFan
Date Posted: December 26 2012 at 17:37
Originally posted by Polymorphia

Most prog is heavily influenced by the Romantic composers whose music strongly communicated a passing of time. Many prog artists combine actual storytelling with this aesthetic effect, which may cause one to associate the psychological time aspect with the folklore or image of an artist. Take Yes as an example. "Close to the Edge" conveys a passage of time and change of setting, yet the lyrics are abstract and introspective leading the listener to conclude the song is about a big personal change. "Close to the Edge" refers to being close to a huge "self-discovery," as Jon Anderson puts it.Or take an example of the opposite. Classical composer Olivier Messiaen wrote music that "suspended" psychological time, so to speak. His works were mainly religious and the suspension of psychological time was used to communicate eternity. Almost all of his music was this way.

This is really a good point. Some of the classical influences that some classical Prog musicians had could be at the heart of their interest in storytelling. It's nice to be able to connect the dots like this. For myself, I'm a very casual listener of classical music. I don't know much about one period versus another. Maybe I'll pay better attention now. Is modern Prog influenced in the same way by Romantic composers? Or are they influenced just by earlier classic Prog itself? Have they brought any storytelling sensibility into the fray, or has that fallen by the wayside?


Posted By: Polymorphia
Date Posted: December 26 2012 at 19:24
Originally posted by HackettFan

Originally posted by Polymorphia

Most prog is heavily influenced by the Romantic composers whose music strongly communicated a passing of time. Many prog artists combine actual storytelling with this aesthetic effect, which may cause one to associate the psychological time aspect with the folklore or image of an artist. Take Yes as an example. "Close to the Edge" conveys a passage of time and change of setting, yet the lyrics are abstract and introspective leading the listener to conclude the song is about a big personal change. "Close to the Edge" refers to being close to a huge "self-discovery," as Jon Anderson puts it.Or take an example of the opposite. Classical composer Olivier Messiaen wrote music that "suspended" psychological time, so to speak. His works were mainly religious and the suspension of psychological time was used to communicate eternity. Almost all of his music was this way.

This is really a good point. Some of the classical influences that some classical Prog musicians had could be at the heart of their interest in storytelling. It's nice to be able to connect the dots like this. For myself, I'm a very casual listener of classical music. I don't know much about one period versus another. Maybe I'll pay better attention now. Is modern Prog influenced in the same way by Romantic composers? Or are they influenced just by earlier classic Prog itself? Have they brought any storytelling sensibility into the fray, or has that fallen by the wayside?
Not sure about much modern symph or neo. Haven't listened enough to either to make a conclusion. Most of the artists in modern prog I have listened to extensively don't usually contain those aspects. Radiohead, who are avid fans of Messiaen, notably tend to follow his tendencies with the suspension of psychological time, particularly with Kid A and King of Limbs. The Mars Volta have a slight story telling element, but its not as present as in Yes' or Genesis' music. Usually, the "jammier" bands like TMV, Pink Floyd, and Can, are this way.


Posted By: puwan2012
Date Posted: December 26 2012 at 21:14
That defines the depth and strength of an artist, instead of anything else!


Posted By: Wafflesyrup
Date Posted: December 26 2012 at 22:53
[/QUOTE]
I don't want to go as broad as Wafflesyrup suggested and say that all music inherently tells a story. This dilutes the point of the thread. I share your disdain for the contemporary notion that the lyrics can "take us there" while the music supposedly cannot. I definitely think there are some works that allow you to see a story in your mind's eye. (I'm talking about impressions not hallucinations here, just to head off any confusion).[/QUOTE]

I guess my statement on varying degrees of storytelling through music didn't really quite make the point.

I myself have a much larger appreciation for music which traverses a multitude of emotional impressions rhythmically and harmonically, as opposed to maintaining a static groove and harmony. I thought the child book, novel, magazine analogy to be fairly apt in the discussion. 


Whoops, messed up the quote box. Shocked


Posted By: N-sz
Date Posted: December 27 2012 at 00:44
I'm glad this thread was made, and good timing too! I've written about an album's worth of material over the last year and I'm just starting to record some of it. It is largely instrumental, but there are some vocal-heavy sections and some songs with light vocals is between. I haven't written any lyrics yet but now I'm trying to get some inspiration for the lyrics. I do have some inspiration on the subjects - a few important things to me that tie together in many ways. I also have a vague idea in mind of how I want to present the lyrics but I've often had difficulty getting lyrics started. I've been thinking maybe an allegorical story would be a great way to present it because on the surface, it can tell a fantastical tale with maybe a sense of ambiguity as to what the meaning is, but the meaning is there and potentially decipherable. That sounds ideal to me. But how do I do it? Music comes to me in a fairly fluid way, but I don't know if I fully understand the process of writing poetry.

I have the music which, like Moshkito was saying, might be all that needs to be there, but I still love the idea of making an album into one dense piece of art by mixing many mediums. It's music and music first, and I expect that the listener will first hear music. But I think it would be great for the music to first sink in, and then for the listener to dig in further, to take as much from it as I can make. I think that is what I would try to do when listening to prog concept albums. Does anyone have any experience doing something like this or related to this? Any advice? Of course, you probably can't teach everything about it because so much of it comes from artistic creativity, but is there a good way to go about starting this, maybe a way to prepare or map it out first?


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http://nickyj.bandcamp.com/" rel="nofollow - My music
Seventy-nine years ago there were three cousins whose names were Rose Marymarsh, Mary Rosemarsh, and Marsh Maryrose.


Posted By: prog4evr
Date Posted: December 27 2012 at 00:56
I think it is not mutually exclusive - rather, it can be a both/and situation.  For example, Gates of Delirium (Yes-Relayer) tells the story both by the lyrics AND the long(er) instrumental passages.  For me, this is unique in Prog, and one of the main reasons why I am drawn to Prog pieces in the first place...

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Posted By: HackettFan
Date Posted: December 27 2012 at 01:36
Originally posted by Wafflesyrup

Originally posted by HackettFan


I don't want to go as broad as Wafflesyrup suggested and say that all music inherently tells a story. This dilutes the point of the thread. I share your disdain for the contemporary notion that the lyrics can "take us there" while the music supposedly cannot. I definitely think there are some works that allow you to see a story in your mind's eye. (I'm talking about impressions not hallucinations here, just to head off any confusion).

I guess my statement on varying degrees of storytelling through music didn't really quite make the point.
I myself have a much larger appreciation for music which traverses a multitude of emotional impressions rhythmically and harmonically, as opposed to maintaining a static groove and harmony. I thought the child book, novel, magazine analogy to be fairly apt in the discussion. 
Whoops, messed up the quote box. Shocked


I fixed the quote up, but managed to lose the philosophically involved post I wrote (probably no great loss to anyone but me). So, let's try an abridged version. Your analogy was quite apt. I especially liked the part about Hustler magazine. I just want to make sure for the purpose of the thread that we're able to distinguish between music that is steeped in storytelling versus that which is not. You are, I'm sure, quite right about there being varying degrees of storytelling. I think actually that some music does not do so at all, but as long as a contrast can be drawn I'm not so concerned with whether it's absolute or a matter of degree.


Posted By: HackettFan
Date Posted: December 27 2012 at 14:16
I find that for some artists the only thing my enters my mind's eye when they're playing are mental images of them playing. This is not a bad thing necessarily. One of my all time favorite albums is Shut Up N' Play Yer Guitar, but all I think about is Zappa and his unceasing concentration on the fretboard. I don't think there're meant to be any stories there. I get something similar with Keith Emerson. Wizards at work expressing themselves, but no storyworld. I think of this as musical expressionism. Then there are musicians like Steve Hackett. You're not even sure when they're playing, if you're hearing a guitar or a keyboard. Rather than their playing being the focus of attention they add coloring to the content, which is in some cases a full blown storyworld. I think of this as a sort of musical Impressionism.


Posted By: Ambient Hurricanes
Date Posted: December 27 2012 at 15:49
Originally posted by Polymorphia

Originally posted by HackettFan

Originally posted by Polymorphia

Most prog is heavily influenced by the Romantic composers whose music strongly communicated a passing of time. Many prog artists combine actual storytelling with this aesthetic effect, which may cause one to associate the psychological time aspect with the folklore or image of an artist. Take Yes as an example. "Close to the Edge" conveys a passage of time and change of setting, yet the lyrics are abstract and introspective leading the listener to conclude the song is about a big personal change. "Close to the Edge" refers to being close to a huge "self-discovery," as Jon Anderson puts it.Or take an example of the opposite. Classical composer Olivier Messiaen wrote music that "suspended" psychological time, so to speak. His works were mainly religious and the suspension of psychological time was used to communicate eternity. Almost all of his music was this way.

This is really a good point. Some of the classical influences that some classical Prog musicians had could be at the heart of their interest in storytelling. It's nice to be able to connect the dots like this. For myself, I'm a very casual listener of classical music. I don't know much about one period versus another. Maybe I'll pay better attention now. Is modern Prog influenced in the same way by Romantic composers? Or are they influenced just by earlier classic Prog itself? Have they brought any storytelling sensibility into the fray, or has that fallen by the wayside?
Not sure about much modern symph or neo. Haven't listened enough to either to make a conclusion. Most of the artists in modern prog I have listened to extensively don't usually contain those aspects. Radiohead, who are avid fans of Messiaen, notably tend to follow his tendencies with the suspension of psychological time, particularly with Kid A and King of Limbs. The Mars Volta have a slight story telling element, but its not as present as in Yes' or Genesis' music. Usually, the "jammier" bands like TMV, Pink Floyd, and Can, are this way.


I think TMV actually has a very strong narrative element in their music (even in works that aren't technically "concept albums," like Octahedron).  The stories just sometimes get lost because the lyrics are so incomprehensible.  The Bedlam In Goliath, for example, is a complex story which chronicles the band's encounter with the occult while also serving as a metaphor for the oppression of women in the Middle East.  But the lyrics make so little sense that it hurts your head just to read them!


-------------
In blood, he's writing the lyrics of a brand new tune.


Posted By: HackettFan
Date Posted: December 27 2012 at 21:51
Originally posted by Ambient Hurricanes


Originally posted by Polymorphia


Originally posted by HackettFan

Originally posted by Polymorphia

Most prog is heavily influenced by the Romantic composers whose music strongly communicated a passing of time. Many prog artists combine actual storytelling with this aesthetic effect, which may cause one to associate the psychological time aspect with the folklore or image of an artist. Take Yes as an example. "Close to the Edge" conveys a passage of time and change of setting, yet the lyrics are abstract and introspective leading the listener to conclude the song is about a big personal change. "Close to the Edge" refers to being close to a huge "self-discovery," as Jon Anderson puts it.Or take an example of the opposite. Classical composer Olivier Messiaen wrote music that "suspended" psychological time, so to speak. His works were mainly religious and the suspension of psychological time was used to communicate eternity. Almost all of his music was this way.

This is really a good point. Some of the classical influences that some classical Prog musicians had could be at the heart of their interest in storytelling. It's nice to be able to connect the dots like this. For myself, I'm a very casual listener of classical music. I don't know much about one period versus another. Maybe I'll pay better attention now. Is modern Prog influenced in the same way by Romantic composers? Or are they influenced just by earlier classic Prog itself? Have they brought any storytelling sensibility into the fray, or has that fallen by the wayside?
Not sure about much modern symph or neo. Haven't listened enough to either to make a conclusion. Most of the artists in modern prog I have listened to extensively don't usually contain those aspects. Radiohead, who are avid fans of Messiaen, notably tend to follow his tendencies with the suspension of psychological time, particularly with Kid A and King of Limbs. The Mars Volta have a slight story telling element, but its not as present as in Yes' or Genesis' music. Usually, the "jammier" bands like TMV, Pink Floyd, and Can, are this way.
I think TMV actually has a very strong narrative element in their music (even in works that aren't technically "concept albums," like Octahedron).  The stories just sometimes get lost because the lyrics are so incomprehensible.  The Bedlam In Goliath, for example, is a complex story which chronicles the band's encounter with the occult while also serving as a metaphor for the oppression of women in the Middle East.  But the lyrics make so little sense that it hurts your head just to read them!

Interesting, I'm checking them out on YouTube.


Posted By: Polymorphia
Date Posted: December 27 2012 at 22:26
Originally posted by Ambient Hurricanes

Originally posted by Polymorphia

Originally posted by HackettFan

Originally posted by Polymorphia

Most prog is heavily influenced by the Romantic composers whose music strongly communicated a passing of time. Many prog artists combine actual storytelling with this aesthetic effect, which may cause one to associate the psychological time aspect with the folklore or image of an artist. Take Yes as an example. "Close to the Edge" conveys a passage of time and change of setting, yet the lyrics are abstract and introspective leading the listener to conclude the song is about a big personal change. "Close to the Edge" refers to being close to a huge "self-discovery," as Jon Anderson puts it.Or take an example of the opposite. Classical composer Olivier Messiaen wrote music that "suspended" psychological time, so to speak. His works were mainly religious and the suspension of psychological time was used to communicate eternity. Almost all of his music was this way.

This is really a good point. Some of the classical influences that some classical Prog musicians had could be at the heart of their interest in storytelling. It's nice to be able to connect the dots like this. For myself, I'm a very casual listener of classical music. I don't know much about one period versus another. Maybe I'll pay better attention now. Is modern Prog influenced in the same way by Romantic composers? Or are they influenced just by earlier classic Prog itself? Have they brought any storytelling sensibility into the fray, or has that fallen by the wayside?
Not sure about much modern symph or neo. Haven't listened enough to either to make a conclusion. Most of the artists in modern prog I have listened to extensively don't usually contain those aspects. Radiohead, who are avid fans of Messiaen, notably tend to follow his tendencies with the suspension of psychological time, particularly with Kid A and King of Limbs. The Mars Volta have a slight story telling element, but its not as present as in Yes' or Genesis' music. Usually, the "jammier" bands like TMV, Pink Floyd, and Can, are this way.


I think TMV actually has a very strong narrative element in their music (even in works that aren't technically "concept albums," like Octahedron).  The stories just sometimes get lost because the lyrics are so incomprehensible.  The Bedlam In Goliath, for example, is a complex story which chronicles the band's encounter with the occult while also serving as a metaphor for the oppression of women in the Middle East.  But the lyrics make so little sense that it hurts your head just to read them!
They definitely tell stories lyrically. In my first comment, however, I referred to "psychological time" expressed by the music. Time in The Mars Volta's music passes differently than in Yes'. The music of Yes and Genesis tell an epic story that is perceived as an epic story even if the lyrics aren't. At least, I don't perceive a huge amount of time passing in TMV's music.


Posted By: Ambient Hurricanes
Date Posted: December 27 2012 at 22:33
Originally posted by Polymorphia

Originally posted by Ambient Hurricanes

Originally posted by Polymorphia

Originally posted by HackettFan

Originally posted by Polymorphia

Most prog is heavily influenced by the Romantic composers whose music strongly communicated a passing of time. Many prog artists combine actual storytelling with this aesthetic effect, which may cause one to associate the psychological time aspect with the folklore or image of an artist. Take Yes as an example. "Close to the Edge" conveys a passage of time and change of setting, yet the lyrics are abstract and introspective leading the listener to conclude the song is about a big personal change. "Close to the Edge" refers to being close to a huge "self-discovery," as Jon Anderson puts it.Or take an example of the opposite. Classical composer Olivier Messiaen wrote music that "suspended" psychological time, so to speak. His works were mainly religious and the suspension of psychological time was used to communicate eternity. Almost all of his music was this way.

This is really a good point. Some of the classical influences that some classical Prog musicians had could be at the heart of their interest in storytelling. It's nice to be able to connect the dots like this. For myself, I'm a very casual listener of classical music. I don't know much about one period versus another. Maybe I'll pay better attention now. Is modern Prog influenced in the same way by Romantic composers? Or are they influenced just by earlier classic Prog itself? Have they brought any storytelling sensibility into the fray, or has that fallen by the wayside?
Not sure about much modern symph or neo. Haven't listened enough to either to make a conclusion. Most of the artists in modern prog I have listened to extensively don't usually contain those aspects. Radiohead, who are avid fans of Messiaen, notably tend to follow his tendencies with the suspension of psychological time, particularly with Kid A and King of Limbs. The Mars Volta have a slight story telling element, but its not as present as in Yes' or Genesis' music. Usually, the "jammier" bands like TMV, Pink Floyd, and Can, are this way.


I think TMV actually has a very strong narrative element in their music (even in works that aren't technically "concept albums," like Octahedron).  The stories just sometimes get lost because the lyrics are so incomprehensible.  The Bedlam In Goliath, for example, is a complex story which chronicles the band's encounter with the occult while also serving as a metaphor for the oppression of women in the Middle East.  But the lyrics make so little sense that it hurts your head just to read them!
They definitely tell stories lyrically. In my first comment, however, I referred to "psychological time" expressed by the music. Time in The Mars Volta's music passes differently than in Yes'. The music of Yes and Genesis tell an epic story that is perceived as an epic story even if the lyrics aren't. At least, I don't perceive a huge amount of time passing in TMV's music.


Agreed on that point, with the possible exception of Octahedron (hmm...maybe one of the reasons I like it so much)


-------------
In blood, he's writing the lyrics of a brand new tune.


Posted By: HackettFan
Date Posted: December 28 2012 at 14:44
Marillion fits into the impressionism mold that I spoke of, but the impressions they create seem to be about one emotion or another. There are lots of mood swings, but no series of sequential events or musical impression of sequential events that comes together as a story. As far as I can see, that is, and I'm only familiar with the first three albums. Maybe someone disagrees. This is interesting to me because, if they were patterning themselves on Genesis (and of course this is greeted with controversy), the storytelling aspect of Genesis is something that they hadn't seemed to bring along with them in any obvious way. Thoughts?


Posted By: Gerinski
Date Posted: December 28 2012 at 16:13
Originally posted by HackettFan

Marillion fits into the impressionism mold that I spoke of, but the impressions they create seem to be about one emotion or another. There are lots of mood swings, but no series of sequential events or musical impression of sequential events that comes together as a story. As far as I can see, that is, and I'm only familiar with the first three albums. Maybe someone disagrees. This is interesting to me because, if they were patterning themselves on Genesis (and of course this is greeted with controversy), the storytelling aspect of Genesis is something that they hadn't seemed to bring along with them in any obvious way. Thoughts?
Yeah, in both Misplaced Childhood and Clutching At Straws the music quite follows the mood of what is being told.
I'm much less familiar with the H period but Brave seems to fit that too.


Posted By: HackettFan
Date Posted: December 28 2012 at 22:29
Originally posted by Gerinski


Originally posted by HackettFan

Marillion fits into the impressionism mold that I spoke of, but the impressions they create seem to be about one emotion or another. There are lots of mood swings, but no series of sequential events or musical impression of sequential events that comes together as a story. As far as I can see, that is, and I'm only familiar with the first three albums. Maybe someone disagrees. This is interesting to me because, if they were patterning themselves on Genesis (and of course this is greeted with controversy), the storytelling aspect of Genesis is something that they hadn't seemed to bring along with them in any obvious way. Thoughts?

Yeah, in both Misplaced Childhood and Clutching At Straws the music quite follows the mood of what is being told.
I'm much less familiar with the H period but Brave seems to fit that too.

Yeah, I listened to Misplaced Childhood just before posting. It always seems to be the lyrics that are in the driver's seat, which always disappointed me (three albums in and not a single instrumental piece). I still adore the Script, though. At their best the band can really use internal monologues and music to open windows on the psyche. Anyway, Misplaced Childhood is a concept album with a consistent theme, but has no recognizable narrative strand, a lot like Aqualung. Or perhaps I'm not catching on to it, I don't know for certain. Does the classic era of Symphonic Prog reign supreme over Modern Prog when it comes to "illustrating" stories? What might I be overlooking?


Posted By: Ambient Hurricanes
Date Posted: December 28 2012 at 22:58
A Dramatic Turn of Events, DTs most recent album, has no literal storyline but tells a story emotionally.  It's a bit of a story archetype, actually.  It's kind of like the soundtrack to an imaginary movie.  That might fit more into the "mood" mode that you're describing with Marillion, but to me the story the album tells is very real.


-------------
In blood, he's writing the lyrics of a brand new tune.


Posted By: HackettFan
Date Posted: December 29 2012 at 10:34
Originally posted by Ambient Hurricanes

A Dramatic Turn of Events, DTs most recent album, has no literal storyline but tells a story emotionally.  It's a bit of a story archetype, actually.  It's kind of like the soundtrack to an imaginary movie.  That might fit more into the "mood" mode that you're describing with Marillion, but to me the story the album tells is very real.


I wouldn't have expected DT to be likely candidates, but your description sounds promising and my exposure to them has been greatly limited. I think I'll look into buying it and seeing what it's like.

I do think a story has to be more than simply a dumping of emotions. It has to have stuff transpiring - conflicts, resolutions and so on. And I'm looking to hear stuff transpire in the instrumental sections not just the lyrics so that we're talking more than just ballads (although lyrics might still be among the storytelling devices used). I do, however, think that emotion is compatible with a story and desirable too.


Posted By: rogerthat
Date Posted: December 29 2012 at 10:44
Originally posted by HackettFan

 
Yeah, I listened to Misplaced Childhood just before posting. It always seems to be the lyrics that are in the driver's seat, which always disappointed me (three albums in and not a single instrumental piece). I still adore the Script, though. At their best the band can really use internal monologues and music to open windows on the psyche. Anyway, Misplaced Childhood is a concept album with a consistent theme, but has no recognizable narrative strand, a lot like Aqualung. Or perhaps I'm not catching on to it, I don't know for certain. Does the classic era of Symphonic Prog reign supreme over Modern Prog when it comes to "illustrating" stories? What might I be overlooking?

You might find that quality in Kevin Gilbert, but his work is exceedingly difficult to find.   Other than that, I really don't know.   There are lots of modern prog albums made with a concept but I cannot say that I really hear the story in the music, as I can in Lamb...or The Wall.   It's there to some extent in Operation Mindcrime but that's 1988 and hardly modern anymore.   In the case of Lamb, Wall or Kevin Gilbert (Shaming the True), the singer was also the dominant songwriter (in the case of the specific albums at least) and that is probably important in a concept album (Fish Marillion, again, fits into this pattern).  They also had a great vision for drama and it reflects in the way the swells and ebbs of the music capture the essence of life. 


Posted By: jplanet
Date Posted: December 29 2012 at 15:52
<ahem>

There is a symphonic rock opera currently at #4 of the top albums of 2012 on this site that may be of interest! ;-)

</ahem>


-------------
http://www.shadowcircusmusic.com" rel="nofollow - ..::welcome to the shadow circus::..


Posted By: Ambient Hurricanes
Date Posted: December 29 2012 at 20:53
Originally posted by HackettFan

Originally posted by Ambient Hurricanes

A Dramatic Turn of Events, DTs most recent album, has no literal storyline but tells a story emotionally.  It's a bit of a story archetype, actually.  It's kind of like the soundtrack to an imaginary movie.  That might fit more into the "mood" mode that you're describing with Marillion, but to me the story the album tells is very real.


I wouldn't have expected DT to be likely candidates, but your description sounds promising and my exposure to them has been greatly limited. I think I'll look into buying it and seeing what it's like.

I do think a story has to be more than simply a dumping of emotions. It has to have stuff transpiring - conflicts, resolutions and so on. And I'm looking to hear stuff transpire in the instrumental sections not just the lyrics so that we're talking more than just ballads (although lyrics might still be among the storytelling devices used). I do, however, think that emotion is compatible with a story and desirable too.


I would say that the DT album depicts plot/conflict/resolution through emotion rather than through a literal telling of the story.  The instrumental sections definitely play a large part, too; you may want to check out "The Count of Tuscany" by the same band for that, if you can get past the atrocious lyrics.


-------------
In blood, he's writing the lyrics of a brand new tune.


Posted By: HackettFan
Date Posted: December 30 2012 at 00:10
Originally posted by Ambient Hurricanes


Originally posted by HackettFan

Originally posted by Ambient Hurricanes

A Dramatic Turn of Events, DTs most recent album, has no literal storyline but tells a story emotionally.  It's a bit of a story archetype, actually.  It's kind of like the soundtrack to an imaginary movie.  That might fit more into the "mood" mode that you're describing with Marillion, but to me the story the album tells is very real.


I wouldn't have expected DT to be likely candidates, but your description sounds promising and my exposure to them has been greatly limited. I think I'll look into buying it and seeing what it's like.

I do think a story has to be more than simply a dumping of emotions. It has to have stuff transpiring - conflicts, resolutions and so on. And I'm looking to hear stuff transpire in the instrumental sections not just the lyrics so that we're talking more than just ballads (although lyrics might still be among the storytelling devices used). I do, however, think that emotion is compatible with a story and desirable too.
I would say that the DT album depicts plot/conflict/resolution through emotion rather than through a literal telling of the story.  The instrumental sections definitely play a large part, too; you may want to check out "The Count of Tuscany" by the same band for that, if you can get past the atrocious lyrics.

I ordered Dramatic Turn of Events. It's only supposed to take 18 to 28 days to arrive    Been noticing how apt the title of the album is with content of this thread.


Posted By: HackettFan
Date Posted: December 30 2012 at 21:36
Originally posted by puwan2012


That defines the depth and strength of an artist, instead of anything else!



I wouldn't go that far, but I hear you loud and clear that you think storytelling is an important part of Prog. How significant is it? Are there any musical pieces that people regard as gaining Prog status mainly if not entirely based on their storytelling quality? I put Duke's Travels down as one. I put Nektar - Recycled down as another.


Posted By: moshkito
Date Posted: December 31 2012 at 09:17
Hi,
 
I'm not sure we "should" or "should not" be defining "progressive" or "prog" (one yesterday and the other today !!!! ) ... as HAVING to have a concept or story. But I do think, that almost ALL of these great albums we discuss DID have a thread that made it look like there was one ... but I doubt this is, or was, an issue in the early days of progressive music ... there is no concept or idea in the first albums by any of our big names ... and in many cases they were just trying to get defined ... but it took something like Yes's "Close to the Edge", JT's Thick as a Brick", Pink Floyd's "Atom Heart Mother" and other pieces, for folks to think that ... a concept was needed ... so this would not sound like just another Fillmore West jam ... like Iron Butterfly, or heaven forbid ... Grateful Dead!
 
There was no "concept" in ITCOTCK ... it is the best screenshot of the life of Robert Fripp that you will ever find ... angry, mad, quiet, crying ... and his words are loud and clear through his guitar in that album ... the only concept in that album is called "Robert"! And we still think he is not a good, or great, man for all the work he has helped formulate all this time and still experiments with!
 
Later, you got to see Nektar and many others do long pieces, and sometimes the albums were not "concepts" or "bound" by one.
 
Classical music, is bound by "concepts" ... and so few albums do not have a "story" that this symphony or concert or something else ... is supposed to be about. In the past 50 years, so much of music history is about ... TAKE THE DAMN STORY OUT ... which is weird, that "progressive" folks would think that a "story" is needed, when almost all the modern art has been about taking the story out! Go find a story in Godot! And Ian will be laughing at you, about the same idea and concept when he jokes in the video ... "this is progressive" ... and "this is not progressive" ... !!! It's very pointed English humor ... so Oxford'ian ... or Cambridgian (is that the right word?)!  And even more ... look at the dead ballerina in the cover of the album ... the old stage and show is dead! Move over! That conceptual story is gone ... gone ... and the punch line of the whole thing is/was? ... "it's his own affair! AFFAIRrrrrrrr!" How many more times do you need to be reminded? It's just like an author, or poet! ... sometimes there is a theme, and sometimes there is not, a theme ... it's just there!
 
But we have this bizarre attitude that we "have to have" meaning, or life is meaningless. It's not necessarily true and you know it, and I'm sure you have found an excuse to get married! Meaning or not! Sometimes, it just happens, and has nothing to refer it to! ... why can't an artist write music, just like a Miro paints his lines?
 
I hear more music, concepts and life, in Sandy Denny's voice, than I do in most of the music that supports her!
 
I hear more music in Peter Hammill's voice, than I do on what is under him ... up until about 10 years ago ... he has lost that edge now. He's almost too mental now.
 
And sometimes, vocals, are not necessarily ... "the story" of the piece, even though we're being told that they are. The perfect example of this is Gong ... where both Daevid and Gilly were extremelly well versed in the "beat poet" thing, and already knew that it didn't matter ... if you did it or not ... no one would know the difference! And if it was a concept, it was as good as none!
 
If you want stories ... go back to your childhood ... childhood ... child hoood ... childhood ... ohhh wait ... that's an old Vivian joke!
 
 


-------------
... none of the hits, none of the time ... you might actually find your own art, or self, and forego lousy heroes or Guru's!

www.pedrosena.com


Posted By: rogerthat
Date Posted: December 31 2012 at 10:15
On the subject of how much storytelling epitomises prog, I think it is more important for the symph prog/art rock side of it.  There is a lot of prog in the other genres that is conceptual in a musical rather than lyrical sense and investigates the world of modes, chords and time signatures rather than attempting to narrate a story.  


Posted By: HackettFan
Date Posted: January 01 2013 at 16:00
Originally posted by moshkito

Hi,
 

I'm not sure we "should" or "should not" be defining "progressive" or "prog" (one yesterday and the other today !!!! ) ... as HAVING to have a concept or story. But I do think, that almost ALL of these great albums we discuss DID have a thread that made it look like there was one ... but I doubt this is, or was, an issue in the early days of progressive music ... there is no concept or idea in the first albums by any of our big names ... and in many cases they were just trying to get defined ... but it took something like Yes's "Close to the Edge", JT's Thick as a Brick", Pink Floyd's "Atom Heart Mother" and other pieces, for folks to think that ... a concept was needed ... so this would not sound like just another Fillmore West jam ... like Iron Butterfly, or heaven forbid ... Grateful Dead!

 

There was no "concept" in ITCOTCK ... it is the best screenshot of the life of Robert Fripp that you will ever find ... angry, mad, quiet, crying ... and his words are loud and clear through his guitar in that album ... the only concept in that album is called "Robert"! And we still think he is not a good, or great, man for all the work he has helped formulate all this time and still experiments with!

 

Later, you got to see Nektar and many others do long pieces, and sometimes the albums were not "concepts" or "bound" by one.

 

Classical music, is bound by "concepts" ... and so few albums do not have a "story" that this symphony or concert or something else ... is supposed to be about. In the past 50 years, so much of music history is about ... TAKE THE DAMN STORY OUT ... which is weird, that "progressive" folks would think that a "story" is needed, when almost all the modern art has been about taking the story out! Go find a story in Godot! And Ian will be laughing at you, about the same idea and concept when he jokes in the video ... "this is progressive" ... and "this is not progressive" ... !!! It's very pointed English humor ... so Oxford'ian ... or Cambridgian (is that the right word?)!

 

I do not look for "concepts" or "ideas" in listening to music, since just as much has "the suggestive elelents of both" in many parts of their work ...

 

I hear more music, concepts and life, in Sandy Denny's voice, than I do in most of the music that supports her!

 

I hear more music in Peter Hammill's voice, than I do on what is under him ... up until about 10 years ago ... he has lost that edge now. He's almost too mental now.

 

And sometimes, vocals, are not necessarily ... "the story" of the piece, even though we're being told that they are. The perfect example of this is Gong ... where both Daevid and Gilly were extremelly well versed in the "beat poet" thing, and already knew that it didn't matter ... if you did it or not ... no one would know the difference! And if it was a concept, it was as good as none!

 

If you want stories ... go back to your childhood ... childhood ... child hoood ... childhood ... ohhh wait ... that's an old Vivian joke!

 

 

I think I recall from somewhere that you're a writer, yet you're dissing stories? I find that curious. Yes, I do like stories, adult stories, sci-fi, mythology, children's stories, bedtime stories and so on. I actually don't think storytelling is definable as a necessary component of Prog. My prior post was intended to communicate that. But I left open for discussion whether it was sufficient. If it is sufficient, then that's one way understanding its importance. So I'm looking for some input on whether there are any reason to consider Duke's Travels and Recycled Prog, other than that they are aural renditions of stories, or is it just simply that. I'm not convinced that Duke's Travels is in fact Prog, but some people consider it so. The case for Recycled as Prog is stronger because of the length, but I'm not convinced about it either. Just because it's long doesn't mean it's Prog. Recycled sounds to me like a series of commercially accessible segments with very ordinary playing. Am I missing anything? Nektar's Journey to the Center of the Eye, by comparison, tells a story yet is also experimental in obvious ways. I do love Recycled, but it's a bit of a guilty pleasure. So, should I consider it Prog because I've overlooked some interesting qualities about it, or simply because it conveys a story. Or is this not Prog, and a story is not sufficient to make this Prog. Or do you or anyone have another musical piece you would like to bring front and center. Smallcreep's Day anyone? It's been a long time since I've heard that one. I don't have any clearcut opinion that I'm trying to advance, but I am interested in what other people have to say on this.


Posted By: moshkito
Date Posted: January 05 2013 at 13:02
Originally posted by HackettFan


... 
I think I recall from somewhere that you're a writer, yet you're dissing stories? I find that curious.
...
 
BINGO!
 
You are not seeing the whole thing, or my point.
 
There are two ways to "write" ... you can sit and think it all out, then write.
 
Or you can close your eyes (so to speak) and "write" ... a veritable stream of consciousness if you will that has absolutely NOTHING to do with your ideas or mine. I have no idea -- and I personally do not care -- if you think there is a story or not in the poem, or short story, or if it means something to you or not. I can not, in any way shape or form, control that ... and it is UP TO YOU, to find and see what you can gain from it ... not for me (or anyone else for that matter!) to tell you what you should be getting out of it!
 
As you can tell, and have seen, I like the ideas that we do not know, understand or care for ... thus the improvisations are good, the experimental is just as good ... as anything else out there ... BUT there is a problem here ... the majority of people don't like things that "they don't know", or "they have to figure" it out.
 
Thus, the lazy ones, would rather have "the lyrics" tell THEM, what this is all about!
 
I have nothing to hide. If it comes off as hidden, it's what I saw, but I do not deplore my work ... it is what it is, and WHEN it came out ... and I do not subscribe to the Christian (or any other school of thought or religion!) that believes in teh scourge ... like rock music fans and top of the pops or commercial music "demands" that you kiss the current money maker, or the scourge is on you! Too many folks are like that here, already!
 
You have heard me talk of the "abstract" things, and the experiments, and the breaking down of all forms of the arts in the 20th century ... and still you say something like that ... that is bizarre, to say the least ...
 
Look ... why do you have to break down what Miro did? ... Why do you think that Miro has to kiss your bunny to tell you what he is doing? ... and why, ohhh why, should any rock band out there have to tell you what they are doing, assuming, they even know ... enough ... to be able to create some meaningful lyrics, instead of crap!
 
A story ... is just that ... a story ... !!! Could have been anything else ... and not have a story ... but you have to have a story ... fine ... go buy something else!  But you can NOT super-impose your desire, will or preference on others! Even more ... demand that anyone make sure they understand it!
 
What I trash the most, is that the "fans", not think they can "judge, try and murder" whoever they want, because on any given day, they no longer like Dream Theater, or any other band, because they are emotionally attached to someone that was there before ... or they liked!  Or trash Yes for Topographic Oceans, because one does not know what it's about and it is not a little story for you to go to bed with, or JT for Thick as a Brick, or JT for Passion Play.
 
Lastly ... please see "artists" for what they are ... men and women, just like you and I ... that have a desire to be THEMSELVES, instead of some idea created by the social mold out there ... and the only work that matters, then, is the work that helps you find out the difference. Not define the "sameness" ... which is what you are criticising! I mentioned this on another thread ... look at the cover of "Passion  Play" ... it's dead ... that "classical" concept of this and that, is long gone ... the ballet died! And rock music is here ... as the new concert hall and art! The old art is dead ... so ... why not ... the story is dead ... long live the story ... have a drink and move on!


-------------
... none of the hits, none of the time ... you might actually find your own art, or self, and forego lousy heroes or Guru's!

www.pedrosena.com


Posted By: HackettFan
Date Posted: January 05 2013 at 17:53
Originally posted by moshkito

Originally posted by HackettFan


I think I recall from somewhere that you're a writer, yet you're dissing stories? I find that curious.

...


BINGO!

You are not seeing the whole thing, or my point.
There are two ways to "write" ... you can sit and think it all out, then write.

Or you can close your eyes (so to speak) and "write" ... a veritable stream of consciousness if you will that has absolutely NOTHING to do with your ideas or mine. I have no idea -- and I personally do not care -- if you think there is a story or not in the poem, or short story, or if it means something to you or not. I can not, in any way shape or form, control that ... and it is UP TO YOU, to find and see what you can gain from it ... not for me (or anyone else for that matter!) to tell you what you should be getting out of it!

I'm putting you down as not an Umberto Eco type semiotics fan. Me neither, but for different reasons, no doubt.
Originally posted by Moshkito

As you can tell, and have seen, I like the ideas that we do not know, understand or care for ... thus the improvisations are good, the experimental is just as good ... as anything else out there ... BUT there is a problem here ... the majority of people don't like things that "they don't know", or "they have to figure" it out.

Absolutely. I've tried to say as much with the expressionism/impressionism comparison. Some music does not have a story at all. Some music is improvised in stream of consciousness fashion. That's how I play guitar on a daily basis as a matter of fact. Some music is made on the fly. I'm quite in favor of this. Nevertheless, I'm quite interested in storytelling in music (as well as storytelling in general), and stories do tend to involve a more pre-planning, a little less on the fly, although I see no reason a story could not be improvised.
Originally posted by Moshkito


Thus, the lazy ones, would rather have "the lyrics" tell THEM, what this is all about!

I don't care if there even are lyrics. There are in some cases I've already talked about. There aren't in others. Even in many cases when there are lyrics, they may be quite mysterious and obscure. Even when stories are not obscure, the listener has to construct from limited input a mental world robust enough for the story to take place, this is not as passive a cognitive operation as you present.
Originally posted by Moshkito


I have nothing to hide. If it comes off as hidden, it's what I saw, but I do not deplore my work ... it is what it is, and WHEN it came out ... and I do not subscribe to the Christian (or any other school of thought or religion!) that believes in teh scourge ... like rock music fans and top of the pops or commercial music "demands" that you kiss the current money maker, or the scourge is on you! Too many folks are like that here, already!

Hunh? I'm an atheist. If I have scourge on me, please get it off...hey, look! A bunny rabbit!...um, so we're still talking about stream of consciousness versus storytelling, I think?
Originally posted by Moshkito

You have heard me talk of the "abstract" things, and the experiments, and the breaking down of all forms of the arts in the 20th century ... and still you say something like that ... that is bizarre, to say the least ...

I said something like what?
Originally posted by Moshkito

Look ... why do you have to break down what Miro did? ... Why do you think that Miro has to kiss your bunny to tell you what he is doing? ... and why, ohhh why, should any rock band out there have to tell you what they are doing, assuming, they even know ... enough ... to be able to create some meaningful lyrics, instead of crap!

Can I be this misunderstood? I don't think that any artist should have to tell us what they're doing (as in telling stories). This is not a thread about what artists ought to do. However, some have engaged in storytelling. I want to know how people regard its general significance to Classic Prog and how it fares in Modern Prog?


Posted By: moshkito
Date Posted: January 07 2013 at 13:13
Originally posted by HackettFan

... 
  However, some have engaged in storytelling. I want to know how people regard its general significance to Classic Prog and how it fares in Modern Prog?
 
I am cautious about this ... because you can go back to many people and things that supposedly also did a "concept", even if it was just drugs, like Sgt Peppers, or Their Satanic Majesty's Request, or even a more obvious one Days of Future Past ... and for giggles, you can also do Ogden's Nut Gone Flakes!
 
Music is music, and if there is a story in there in the music, we can hear it ... if it is just a bunch of lyrics supposedly telling us that this is about A and B and C and they slept together ever after ... fine ... but we're not all Jackie Collins fans, and a "story" for us is ok if it is an alleghory, but not real! Again, the whole conceptualization of it gets distorted ... and it might not have a story ... and folks like David Bowie like to make it look like they had a story (Spiders from Mars//the next album and so forth) and then he does an interview and he speaks volumes about his lyrics when he says ... it's like 52 pickup and sometimes a few things click, and come things don't, and eventually you learn to trust that and even make it better!
 
And then you get Laurie Anderson and Burroughs together and conceptualization takes a huge hit ... where do you start? Naked Lunch? ... where do you end? Superman?
 
Makes me think that after 75 years ... we're still trying to dismantle the mantle!


-------------
... none of the hits, none of the time ... you might actually find your own art, or self, and forego lousy heroes or Guru's!

www.pedrosena.com


Posted By: HackettFan
Date Posted: January 07 2013 at 18:37
Originally posted by Moshkito

I'm not sure we "should" or "should not" be defining "progressive" or "prog" (one yesterday and the other today !!!! ) ... as HAVING to have a concept or story. But I do think, that almost ALL of these great albums we discuss DID have a thread that made it look like there was one ... but I doubt this is, or was, an issue in the early days of progressive music ... there is no concept or idea in the first albums by any of our big names ... and in many cases they were just trying to get defined ... but it took something like Yes's "Close to the Edge", JT's Thick as a Brick", Pink Floyd's "Atom Heart Mother" and other pieces, for folks to think that ... a concept was needed ... so this would not sound like just another Fillmore West jam ... like Iron Butterfly, or heaven forbid ... Grateful Dead!

There was no "concept" in ITCOTCK ... it is the best screenshot of the life of Robert Fripp that you will ever find ... angry, mad, quiet, crying ... and his words are loud and clear through his guitar in that album ... the only concept in that album is called "Robert"! And we still think he is not a good, or great, man for all the work he has helped formulate all this time and still experiments with!

Later, you got to see Nektar and many others do long pieces, and sometimes the albums were not "concepts" or "bound" by one.

Actually there were both concepts and stories in some of earliest of the big name Prog groups. It just depends which ones we're talking about. I want to be careful because a concept album doesn't mean there's actually a story. Genesis' first album, From Genesis to Revelation, was a concept album, but had no coherent story that ran through it. Half the songs on their next album, Trespass, did contain stories (White Mountain, Stagnation, and The Knife), but Trespass was not a concept album. This would be the normal pattern on up to the Lamb (my all time favorite), which was both a concept album and a story.

The first Nektar album was Journey to the Center of the Eye (among my all time favorites) came out in 1971, which is neither early nor way late in the history of Prog. It contained a story that ran through the entire album. This was the case for all their following albums up through Recycled (although I'm ignorant about the content of Down to Earth).

The first Mothers of Invention album, Freak Out, was a concept album, but had no coherent storyline running through it. ITCOCK, as you were saying, is not tied together with any concept and, more importantly for this discussion, none of the tracks had any storyline.

So I think the history is a mixed bag, which is why this intrigues me so. It also occurs to me that how central storytelling is to Prog depends on the personal histories of the fans with respect to which bands they discovered first. For me, Genesis was my entry into Prog (Not to mention that reading mythology was a hobby I acquired very early as a youngster and continued through my college years. I am also a linguist by profession and my dissertation was concerned in part with storytelling in a particular endangered language). So, you find storytelling not very significant to classic Prog and that is interesting to me. Part of that I'm sure is, as you have already represented, your interest in state of consciousness writing, but I am interested in what your first few Prog music interests were. I think this would be enlightening.
Originally posted by moshkito

Originally posted by HackettFan


...   However, some have engaged in storytelling. I want to know how people regard its general significance to Classic Prog and how it fares in Modern Prog?

 

I am cautious about this ... because you can go back to many people and things that supposedly also did a "concept", even if it was just drugs, like Sgt Peppers, or Their Satanic Majesty's Request, or even a more obvious one Days of Future Past ... and for giggles, you can also do Ogden's Nut Gone Flakes!

Music is music, and if there is a story in there in the music, we can hear it ... if it is just a bunch of lyrics supposedly telling us that this is about A and B and C and they slept together ever after ... fine ... but we're not all Jackie Collins fans, and a "story" for us is ok if it is an alleghory, but not real! Again, the whole conceptualization of it gets distorted ... and it might not have a story ... and folks like David Bowie like to make it look like they had a story (Spiders from Mars//the next album and so forth) and then he does an interview and he speaks volumes about his lyrics when he says ... it's like 52 pickup and sometimes a few things click, and come things don't, and eventually you learn to trust that and even make it better!

This is an interesting point and I agree. The sense of a story, or shall we say, the impression of a story may have been more important than the particulars of the story itself. This actually makes the subject even more intriguing to me.
Originally posted by Moshkito

And then you get Laurie Anderson and Burroughs together and conceptualization takes a huge hit ... where do you start? Naked Lunch? ... where do you end? Superman?
 

Makes me think that after 75 years ... we're still trying to dismantle the mantle!

Well, yes, there is a lot of trash out there in every quarter.

Thanks for your continued interest in this thread. Best.


Posted By: moshkito
Date Posted: January 08 2013 at 15:35
Originally posted by HackettFan

Originally posted by Moshkito

And then you get Laurie Anderson and Burroughs together and conceptualization takes a huge hit ... where do you start? Naked Lunch? ... where do you end? Superman?
 

Makes me think that after 75 years ... we're still trying to dismantle the mantle!

Well, yes, there is a lot of trash out there in every quarter.

Thanks for your continued interest in this thread. Best.
 
Sadly, Mr. Naked Lunch is a "biggie" in literature in the 20th century ... and he did many live shows with Laurie Anderson ...
 
Trash has become relative! One man's trash is another man's gold! And you can always go read Our Lady of Flowers right after that!
 
We're not understanding music or any of the arts! We're stuck on our own likes and dislikes and not seeing that their comtemporaries were doiing it too!
 
Btw ... I was playing Nektar in 1972 and had their 3 albums already commited to memory! JTTCOTE was, for a long time, one of my favorite albums, and I still enjoy it a lot. But it also was a different (and better if I may say so) than what another band had done in America in the midwest ... but that's eccentric and bizarre history ... because we tend to think that the only history there is ... is what we know and heard!


-------------
... none of the hits, none of the time ... you might actually find your own art, or self, and forego lousy heroes or Guru's!

www.pedrosena.com


Posted By: octopus-4
Date Posted: January 11 2013 at 06:03
Originally posted by Slartibartfast

Don't negelect instrumentals that tell a story.  Case in point are a lot of the songs (I know I know some people are going to say how instrumentals can't be songs Big smile) on this:



What got into prog in the first place was what you refer to as the storytelling component.  Of course just my luck I got heavily into prog just when that was being abandoned in favor of commercial appeal.

Why should one listen to progressive electronic if it wasn't so? 

I've posted this 2 years ago
http://www.progarchives.com/Review.asp?id=357492" rel="nofollow - http://www.progarchives.com/Review.asp?id=357492


-------------
Curiosity killed a cat, Schroedinger only half.


Posted By: HackettFan
Date Posted: January 12 2013 at 19:58
Originally posted by octopus-4


Originally posted by Slartibartfast


What got into prog in the first place was what you refer to as the storytelling component.  Of course just my luck I got heavily into prog just when that was being abandoned in favor of commercial appeal.

Why should one listen to progressive electronic if it wasn't so? 
I've posted this 2 years ago
http://www.progarchives.com/Review.asp?id=357492" rel="nofollow - http://www.progarchives.com/Review.asp?id=357492

I just read your review of Senmuth - Eternal Images. "There is a concept. It's a mystic and esotheric travel around the world during which the ethnic elements are of course enhanced." It certainly sounds like it takes you outside of yourself as a story would do. Was it all instrumental?


Posted By: octopus-4
Date Posted: January 13 2013 at 02:38
Originally posted by HackettFan

Originally posted by octopus-4


Originally posted by Slartibartfast


What got into prog in the first place was what you refer to as the storytelling component.  Of course just my luck I got heavily into prog just when that was being abandoned in favor of commercial appeal.

Why should one listen to progressive electronic if it wasn't so? 
I've posted this 2 years ago
http://www.progarchives.com/Review.asp?id=357492" rel="nofollow - http://www.progarchives.com/Review.asp?id=357492

I just read your review of Senmuth - Eternal Images. "There is a concept. It's a mystic and esotheric travel around the world during which the ethnic elements are of course enhanced." It certainly sounds like it takes you outside of yourself as a story would do. Was it all instrumental?
Yes. I have written that review when I was lying in bed for a flu, with a laptop on my knees looking for info about the track titles and watching the photos of the archeological sites. 

Almost all the Senmuth's albums are downloadable for free on his website www.senmuth.com
I have also purchased his book which contains only photo shots of Egypt and it's a trip!


-------------
Curiosity killed a cat, Schroedinger only half.


Posted By: jude111
Date Posted: January 18 2013 at 23:12
Originally posted by HackettFan

This is a thread I wanted to post for a long time.
Some music is more than intriguing music from a musical perspective. It tells a story. It might narrate a story with lyrics, but most importantly it illustrates a story with the meandering instrumentation and composition. What Peter Gabriel called "journey songs". Note that I'm talking about stories driven by the whole composition, not just any run of the mill ballad, although lyrics can be a part of it. With purely instrumental pieces one may not be able to identify and report on specific story events, but there's an impression of events transpiring. Jade Warrior-Floating World is an example; entirely instrumental, but if you squint just right and allow yourself to daydream... Gong had a strong storytelling capacity, especially on You. Most of old Genesis would do it as a matter of course, and I think that's a big part of why people, including me, disdain later Genesis so vehemently. It wasn't just the change in the music but the loss of the stories, the folklore. I think that's why some old Genesis fans are more gracious toward Duke, because it had Duke's Travels on it, which is a perfect example of a piece with a story being told. We don't know what the story is, but there's a story nonetheless.

Storytelling is not a part of the PA definition of Prog. Some bands are great musically, but show no interest in storytelling. I'm thinking of ELP or Soft Machine, for example. Should the illustrative capacity of music be thought of as at least an optional component of Prog? What is its general significance to Classic Prog and how does it fare in Modern Prog?
Does that mean that PA would include Don McClean ("The Day the Music Died", "Vincent")? Or Gordon Lightfoot ("The Edmund Fitzgerald")? eeeeeek.


Posted By: Fighter
Date Posted: January 19 2013 at 01:11
I love Mike Oldfield's Five Miles Out (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqnOkgckKyY) for its ridiculousness, vocal stylings and the little bit of narrative that comes along with it all.

Off the same album, and with some arguably better story telling is also Family Man (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQmktElSjvY) but more of a pop song in nature.

My favorite prog lyricist however is Peter Hammill, who doesn't really try to tell tradition stories but incorperates tons of changes in mood in both his lyrics and instrumentation, which is incredibly emotionally expressive.  Plague of light house keepers off pawn is a good example the sorta thing im talking about.


Posted By: HackettFan
Date Posted: January 19 2013 at 08:40
Originally posted by jude111

Originally posted by HackettFan

This is a thread I wanted to post for a long time. Some music is more than intriguing music from a musical perspective. It tells a story. It might narrate a story with lyrics, but most importantly it illustrates a story with the meandering instrumentation and composition. What Peter Gabriel called "journey songs". Note that I'm talking about stories driven by the whole composition, not just any run of the mill ballad, although lyrics can be a part of it. With purely instrumental pieces one may not be able to identify and report on specific story events, but there's an impression of events transpiring. Jade Warrior-Floating World is an example; entirely instrumental, but if you squint just right and allow yourself to daydream... Gong had a strong storytelling capacity, especially on You. Most of old Genesis would do it as a matter of course, and I think that's a big part of why people, including me, disdain later Genesis so vehemently. It wasn't just the change in the music but the loss of the stories, the folklore. I think that's why some old Genesis fans are more gracious toward Duke, because it had Duke's Travels on it, which is a perfect example of a piece with a story being told. We don't know what the story is, but there's a story nonetheless. Storytelling is not a part of the PA definition of Prog. Some bands are great musically, but show no interest in storytelling. I'm thinking of ELP or Soft Machine, for example. Should the illustrative capacity of music be thought of as at least an optional component of Prog? What is its general significance to Classic Prog and how does it fare in Modern Prog?

Does that mean that PA would include Don McClean ("The Day the Music Died", "Vincent")? Or Gordon Lightfoot ("The Edmund Fitzgerald")? eeeeeek.

No, not at all. The stories in those are not driven by the whole composition, just by the lyrics, exactly what I was trying to exclude from this thread. That is to say, the instrumental component of the songs makes no contribution to the story. It's just backing for the vocals, a run of the mill ballad. By contrast, I don't think you could even call Riding the Scree, for instance, a ballad.



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