Monday, 4 July 2011

Prog Rock Vs Progressive Rock

IMG_0472 by mattstevensguitar
IMG_0472, a photo by mattstevensguitar on Flickr.

Recently I've noticed a lot of arguments online about "prog rock". Its getting a bit crazy.

The argument goes like this:

"Prog Rock" is genre that existed in the 1970's and was played by the likes of King Crimson, Yes, Genesis Etc. There can be no more because it only existed in the 1970s. Some prog zealots accept the later "neo-prog" movement Marillion, IQ, Etc. These guys are generally very angry and don't want the term "prog" associated with anything later - even for example Porcupine Tree. (yes prog is a genre where some fans are actively against progression!)

"Progressive Rock" is a bit more interesting. My definition of this is "interesting and ambitious rock music". It goes from King Crimson to Mahavishnu Orchestra to Can to Talking Heads and Dead Kennedys to Radiohead and Cardiacs, Mars Volta, Tortoise and Battles.

None of those terms really matter.

Its probably best to just enjoy the music - although its odd some fans of "Progressive" music hate progression and want "prog" to die when the old bands do. Very weird.

BTW - I know my music isn't proper "prog". I'm not sure what it is.


Martin said...

Your music is what it is, Matt - doesn't matter if it inconveniently won't fit the old music shop pigeonholes.

As for the whole prog/progressive/neo-prog definition argument, it all seems a bit of a storm in a gatefold sleeve...

Tim (Kalyr) said...

I always thing genre definitions are useful as long as you're not a dick about them.

Unfortunately the Interweb is has always been full of dicks.

Most people recognise that genre boundaries are fuzzy, many of them overlap, and anything really innovative is hard to classify.

srm1138 said...

I try not to worry too much about genre labels. Worrying to much about categories and their parameters seems to imply a level of anal-ism that would probably be best to avoid. :-)

Olav said...

As a person who have been immersed in that environment for some time, I do find those kinds of debates puzzling. It is a debate that goes towards approach just as much as style really, but the main issue seems to be that some people want the approach used 40 years ago to define that part of the sophisticated rock scene most commonly coined as progressive rock.

Instrumentation is a part of it, but compositional structure too. It is artists who focus on innovative arrangements over sophisticated structures, in particular if implementing relatively recent stylistic approaches (read: 80's and onward), that are the ones who commonly seems to be contested.

It is waging a war inside a glass of water this debate, and a small glass it is too. Art rock, prog rock, progressive rock or whatever you'd like to call it, is a type of music that would appear to be the musician's music more than anything. Adored by producing artists and muso nerds, the latter just as often past or present representatives of the former as examples of casual listeners that has developed a deeper interest.

Oli said...

Matt, it is immediately obvious to any card carrying aficionado of the finer styles of gentlemanly music (such as myself) that your music is of the genre properly referred to as 'new instrumental acoustic post-prog' (in contrast to 'old instrumental acoustic post-prog', which was irredeemably ghastly. Anyone who disagrees with me on this matter is a COMPLETE imbecile.

Dayna said...

Robert Fripp said "Music is a quality organized in sound." I take that 'quality' to be the feeling one experiences when listening to certain musics.In the case of "prog" or "progressive", that quality is deeply emotional in an intellectual sort of way.

Bands that have been tagged as being prog or progressive elicit a particular feeling and any music that also elicits the same feelings would have to be considered to be prog. It doesn't matter what kinds of instruments or effects they use, or the rhythms, scales or progressions they play in.If the music eleicts the same feelings as prog, then to my ears and in my heart, it's prog.

Therefore, bands artists such as Lush, Loreena McKennitt, Outback, Bel Canto or even African guitarist Djelimady Tounkara, all , all give rise to the same "qualities" that I experience when listening to Crimson, or any of the pther traditionally know "prog"bands.

Anonymous said...

I've always understood it that "prog" meant that there was progression *within the work*.

So there'd be more progression in a work than verse/chorus/verse/chorus/etc... So there'd be more exploration within a piece - be that piece a long song or a carefully put together album of shorter songs around a theme or idea.

You often get that by accident with other musical genres, but in prog it's something that's being aimed for.

The fact that a lot of it was performed by shiny suited maniacs with bad hairdos in the 1970s is largely irrelevant.

It's also a definition that has got less distinct now that a lot of other music's not limited by the recording medium, so longer songs (which may have progression in them) have become easier to market and sell.

Tim Hunter, Yorkshire Independent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim Hunter, Yorkshire Independent said...

I’m not proper prog either. In fact I am ‘Prog Pop’ which is reviled by the hair-shirt prog brigade. I believe ‘Prog Pop’ is a genre in itself (e.g. Asia, Mike and The Mechanics, UK etc.). I play a lot of that type of stuff on my ProgYes Internet station.
I personally believe prog (or psychedelic music) actually started with the Beatles on Sgt Pepper. I mean, if ‘A Day In The Life’ had been on a Pink Floyd album everyone would be saying how brilliantly ‘prog’ it was. Then, with ‘Revolution Number 9’ they showed how avant garde they could also be. Even the extended suite of songs on ‘Abbey Road’; was a kind of mini rock opera. I personally believe that ‘The Moody Blues’ and ‘Procul Harum’ had pretty much written the book of prog before the newcomers like Yes and Genesis came along. Prog should be all about good songs and having an intelligent approach to music. In fact Pink Floyd were a pop band so were Genesis initially. Yes have actually always been much more commercial than they have been given credit for. (Roundabout was a big hit in the US).

aquarium supplies said...

I don't care, i just enjoy good music! that's all!


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