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What is Prog?


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Posted on 20 Mar 2012 09:00:19 GMT
MC Zaptone says:
It's obviously subjective easytiger, I would have said that while all the bands you list are
Underground, none of them are Prog. in the true sense of the word. Growing up in London in that era it we considered that there were only a handful of true Prog. groups (not bands) namely: Yes; King Crimson; Genesis (up until L.L.D.O.B) E.L.P. & Germany's Tangerine Dream and Amon Düül II. Groups that were on those fringes were Jethro Tull (esp. T.A.A.B.), Gong, The Moody Blues, The Nice, V.D.G. Generator and Pink Floyd.
Perhaps wrongly, I know amongst my peers, had you asked them to sum up Progressive Rock at that time they would have said: "Rock music based around the principals of Classical music with the emphasis on keyboards rather than guitars".
While I accept that there are plenty of good Neo-Prog Bands around today, the OP's and subsequent suggestions that Roxy Music, Queen; Alice Cooper and even The Mighty Groundhogs were to be found in record store bins marked 'PROG'. can only mean one thing, the store owner was dyslexic or deaf!
Cheers
MC

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Mar 2012 10:12:41 GMT
Last edited by the author on 20 Mar 2012 10:14:48 GMT
Good call there easytiger as I have in the past advocated that The Nice were the first real progressive rock band who fused together (what for me are) the essential ingredients of rock/pop with classical structures and a large helping of improvisation/jazz.

I still consider these factors to be important, and would never have placed Queen, Roxy Music or any of the pop-rockers into such a category. (The independent record store I used to visit at the time would not have them under such a banner also!). Emerson himself, of course in those heady early days hated the categorisation of any music and tried hard to break the barriers down.

I can't for the life of me see how bands like Porcupine Tree can now be called prog - sure some of the early work, maybe or yes, but just because you string a few tracks together, or play for a long time, doesn't equate to prog in my book.
Yep, I'm old school !!!!!!

Posted on 20 Mar 2012 10:53:01 GMT
N. Hudson says:
I never suggested Queen or Roxy were prog, and would never consider them so. I merely said that their early recordings interested me in a similar way to prog. I also think the "rock music based around the principals of Classical music with the emphasis on keyboards rather than guitars" seems a pretty good definition (more or less) for what prog was in the beginning. Like any genre, the boundaries change over time. Being "old school" to me often means being close-minded. I mean no offense there Cornish, but all things change over time, and just because you don't consider something prog does not mean it is seen as such by a greater majority.

As MC says, Jethro Tull really only had prog leanings at times, which is why I would not consider them prog. TAAB is definitely their most prog moment, but Aqualung also has prog leanings. I would also agree that just you string a few tracks together, or play for a long time, does not equate to prog. This is the false sort of logic that also dictates that I am a fish. (Fish swim. I can swim. Therefore I am fish.). I listen to plenty of bands that are touted as prog, which I do not consider to be prog. Reading Prog by Classic Rock at times, I see that this sort of thing continues to pop up - as someone refutes "this band" as being prog, and asks why is "that band" not in the magazine instead, etc.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Mar 2012 11:26:25 GMT
Last edited by the author on 20 Mar 2012 11:34:39 GMT
S.R.J says:
"Being "old school" to me often means being close-minded."...ouch! Well what does it mean on this occasion?
I guess one persons prog is anothers rock, and by the way much as I delight in P. Tree I dont regard it as prog at all.
As for boundaries changing over time, not sure, more that individuals interpretation changes over time which in itself is influenced by what is going on in the music scene at that time.
However this suits me fine (defenition wise) from the Prog Archives website-"Progressive rock songs either avoid common popular music song structures of verse-chorus-bridge, or blur the formal distinctions by extending sections or inserting musical interludes, often with exaggerated dynamics to heighten contrast between sections. Classical forms are often inserted or substituted, sometimes yielding entire suites, building on the traditional medleys of earlier rock bands. Progressive rock songs also often have extended instrumental passages, marrying the classical solo tradition with the improvisational traditions of jazz and psychedelic rock. All of these tend to add length to progressive rock songs, which may last longer than twenty minutes."- sounds a bit old school to me...........retreats to grumpy old corner in cave...............
S.R.J

Posted on 20 Mar 2012 12:08:17 GMT
I've taken this from the web-site progarchives, http://www.progarchives.com/Progressive-rock.asp#development

"The development of Progressive Rock Music, a difficult task

Late 60s and beginning of the 70s
I would say it all began with psychedelic music, i.e. essentially Jimi Hendrix and earlier PINK FLOYD (all their stuff with Syd Barrett). Some people say that The BEATLES also had a contribution to the prog movement). Then came bands such as KING CRIMSON and YES at the end of the sixties. KING CRIMSON, along with VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR (VDGG) helped define a sub-genre of the progressive music called hard prog ('hard' referring to the tormented atmosphere of their records, however "In The Court In The Crimson King" is symphonic prog). YES were playing symphonic rock, so called because of the use of a symphonic orchestra. GENESIS were already recording at the end of the sixties but their links to the progressive rock were not yet defined. With the album "Trespass", things became clear about GENESIS. YES and GENESIS remain icons in symphonic rock music. Other bands followed their steps later : GENTLE GIANT, CAMEL among others."

"The 80s
The progressive rock was supplanted by the "punk movement" at the end of the seventies, a "music" which aim was to prove that everyone could play music. "Punk" gave rise to the cold wave in the eighties and prog rock was reduced to what was called neo progressive (a simpler form of the symphonic prog but with much present drums), and an embryo of what became at the beginning of the nineties the metal prog . SAGA were probably the first to play this neo prog, but MARILLION, IQ and PENDRAGON are the best representatives of this sub-genre."

This is not to say the above writer is correct. It would be interesting if anybody had copies of late sixties/early seventies Melody Maker or NME (I understand there are plans to archive the entire catalogue :-) ). I'm sure the word "progressive" was used around that time. I remember the Amazing Blondel and Gryphon being described as progressive folk when at their peak in the early 70s.

Posted on 20 Mar 2012 12:24:04 GMT
All depends on where you're coming from. If you're more inclined towards non-rock genres then prog would include everything from heavier stuff like ELP, Yes, early Genesis via Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple to 10cc, Moody Blues and Supertramp at the lighter end. Rock fans seem to have narrower frames of refererence.

Posted on 20 Mar 2012 12:30:00 GMT
bill g. says:
does the amazing Renaissance come under the banner of "prog"? (prog-folk or folk-prog, anyone?)some of their songs certainly sound a bit on the folky side - Carpet of the Sun, Ocean Gypsy, while some songs are long epics, Scheherazade suite, Ashes are Burning, Mother Russia, etc.

Posted on 20 Mar 2012 13:17:42 GMT
Huck Flynn says:
folk seem to get very possessive of the label "Prog" - in reality it is useful only as a loose definition of rock and blues based music (not bands themselves) that has more complex structure or significant cross-genre influences eg from classical, jazz, folk music, introduces a wider range of noises (often electronic keyboard generated). Thus, Tull's Thick as a Brick (and indeed Passion Play) are solidly in the Prog camp with most of King Crimson and Yes but arguably Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody as well? Another plug for Porcupine Tree /Steven Wilson but let's not forget prog masterpieces Gentle Giant's Octopus and Paladin's Charge.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Mar 2012 13:43:36 GMT
N. Hudson says:
Problem with this definition, S.R.J. would be that both Roxy Music and Queen (neither of whom are prog, in your opinion or mine) could be considered prog as both (in their early days, before they became MOR AOR pop pap) "avoided common popularl music song structures, and blurred the formal distinctions by extending sections or inserting musical interludes, often with exaggerated dynamics to heighten contrast between sections." That is a defnite, and pretty much unarguable. Furthermore, at times you could also argue that the remainder of the definition you provided from the Prog Archives website also fits for early Roxy Music and Queen.

As Huck says, folk seem to get very possessive about the term "prog", and perhaps this is a politer way of saying close-minded! ;)
Individual interpretations changing over time, lead to boundaries changing over time. We should be thankful, perhaps, that prog largely means the same thing it did (more or less) decades ago. In a far shorter space of time, the term "emo" has changed dramatically, and become almost as meaningless as the term "grunge" once was. Back in the day, Sunny Day Real Estate was the epitome of emo - but their music bears no resemblence to any of the bands now tarred with that label.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Mar 2012 13:54:27 GMT
A customer says:
thats a classic prog post G.Richardson, long winded and dull.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Mar 2012 14:01:41 GMT
S.R.J says:
Imrovisations? Were not Queen and Roxy more structured in their musical formats?
S.R.J

Posted on 20 Mar 2012 15:45:29 GMT
In a nutshell prog's largely made by earnest white men with beards or large sidies who also may've done bird at a minor public school. It's rarely produced by folk who live on sink estates in Lewisham or Easterhouse. It may've been foisted on society in revenge for toilet hairwashes.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Mar 2012 15:53:31 GMT
Gordon Dent says:
...Although Jon Anderson was a farmhand, lorry-driver and milkman in Accrington (and an unsuccessful triallist at Accrington Stanley) before he founded Yes.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Mar 2012 15:55:06 GMT
easytiger says:
Tag MC-well must say in a totally amicable way that I disagree with you on most points except the ones where you prove me right. Firstly Tangerine Dream, Amon Duul II, Gong etc were a different genre altogether. One guy (sorry I can't remember who) on a recent 'Krautrock' thread (yes I know they're not all german) summed it up by saying these groups rejected the british/american way of making music and made thier own, or words to that effect. Think that disqualifies them from being prog rock.
"Rock music based around the principals of Classical music with the emphasis on keyboards rather than guitars".
Well if you think that's what it is that's fine cos everybody has different ideas. Is the Six Wives of Henry viii prog? Me I turned to german stuff 'cos I was sick of all this 'we're not a rock band, we're a group of accomplished musicians' b8ll8ks-re Deep Purple with RPO etc. And then punk came along-back to basics rock music and it was great. That's just my personal opinion but I do stick with what I have written.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Mar 2012 16:25:00 GMT
Last edited by the author on 20 Mar 2012 16:27:22 GMT
N. Hudson says:
(Editited to add this sentence, to make it clearer that this is in reply to S.R.J and his query about Roxy Music and Queen being structured.)

They became so over the years, but were definitely not to begin with - Roxy in particular, whose first two albums with Emo onboard were anything but structured. I am not sure how familiar you are with early Roxy or Queen, so would not wish to expound further - suffice to say that I did say that the first part of your definition (that a prog band "avoided common popularl music song structures, and blurred the formal distinctions by extending sections or inserting musical interludes, often with exaggerated dynamics to heighten contrast between sections.") was applicable to Roxy and Queen, without doubt. The improvisations part of your definition was therefore part of the "at times you could also argue that the remainder of the definition you provided from the Prog Archives website also fits for early Roxy Music and Queen." of my post. This is not to say that Roxy and Queen did not improvise - for they certainly did - but perhaps not enough to satisfy your definition. As with many prog bands though, often the improvisation was more apparent live than on studio albums.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Mar 2012 16:31:42 GMT
Last edited by the author on 20 Mar 2012 16:36:12 GMT
True, and Family for example were a bunch of Leicester lads and hardly public schoolboys. Actually a lot of underground/progressive music seemed from art schools rather than Public schools. The only true 'posh' band I can think of is Genesis, but then again Phil Collins wasn't a public school boy, more of a brat from the Barbara Speake stage school!

Posted on 20 Mar 2012 18:35:02 GMT
seasicktim - I thought the quote was sympathetic to the music I was commenting on. lol
My comment was relatively brief. The issue was which were the first bands to have their music referred to as prog? Perhaps a look back through the music press to when their journalists started using the term might be an idea. That, of course, will not have any influence on those who have their personal criteria as to what/who deserves the term prog.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Mar 2012 19:03:14 GMT
Are you saying that the guys that played prog were actually educated and were musicians Nuge, as opposed to punk who were all enthusiasm with no musical ability!!!!

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Mar 2012 19:25:25 GMT
Hi N Hudson, I consider that I am justly entitled to use the term "old school" as I was around at the time & listening to the original bands who created the genre, and it refers to my own definition/opinion.

As for the term "often means being close-minded", I have never considered myself that, self-opinionated, critical and even derogatory at times, but I will give (almost) anything a chance.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Mar 2012 20:03:24 GMT
N. Hudson says:
Cornish, I apologise - I did not mean offense. I am not saying you are not entitled to call yourself "old school", and your reason for doing so is perfectly valid. I was not actually implying that you were close-minded, just because you had used the term "old school" - but merely meaning that quite often when that term is used, the person using it is close-minded. Your definition/opinion of prog is somewhat narrower than others (which may, or may not, be down to your being "old school"). Nugent perhaps said it best: "Rock fans seem to have narrower frames of refererence", but perhaps this could also apply for "old school" fans too?

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Mar 2012 20:09:18 GMT
Thanks for the apology NH - no offence taken by the way, I just wanted to elaborate a little on my standpoint : )

Posted on 20 Mar 2012 20:39:30 GMT
Last edited by the author on 20 Mar 2012 21:14:51 GMT
Red Mosquito says:
There is a view, one I tend to agree with, that 'Prog Rock' was a movement that unified all genres. Hence the confusion or the high level of subjectivity. Consequently the prog family included the likes of Mike Oldfield, Arthur Brown, Magma, all the so called 'Krautrock' bands as well as those named above (inc early Roxy and Queen). The whole point of the movement was genre unification of music that was classified as progressive. I think the movement started around 66/67 and had lost it's way by 76/77.
I also like Porcupine Tree. One of our greatest contempary ROCK bands!!

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Mar 2012 20:49:21 GMT
Never cared much for proper punk CD, more into New Wave stuff like Magazine, Ian Dury and The Blockheads, Teardrop Explodes, Talking Heads etc.
OK then Schiz, make that public school OR art college. We'll keep with the beards though.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Mar 2012 20:56:26 GMT
Last edited by the author on 20 Mar 2012 20:56:57 GMT
Gordon Dent says:
...And Gentle Giant, of course, formed around three Jewish kids from The Gorbals. (Well, two from The Gorbals and one born soon after the family moved to Portsmouth.)

Posted on 20 Mar 2012 22:27:51 GMT
Post Soviet says:
prog...shmog...not again.
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Discussion in:  rock discussion forum
Participants:  42
Total posts:  329
Initial post:  18 Mar 2012
Latest post:  24 Jul 2013

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