What are your favorite progressive rock songs

Progressive rock

Progressive Rock (short: Prog or Prog-Rock) is a genre of music that emerged in the mid-1960s and in which musicians use popular genres such as pop music, rock music, blues or rock'n'roll, which they consider to be too simple in their structure felt expanded to include new harmonies and instruments. Influences from other areas such as classical, jazz or world music were often included.

History [edit | Edit source]

The history of progressive rock can be divided into four parts. The first, "proto-progressive" section can be seen in the late 1960s, in which the roots of progressive rock lie. The second phase is often referred to as the "classic phase" of Prog and can be assigned to the early and mid 1970s. The third part is in the 1980s, in which there was a "renaissance" of progressive rock through neo-prog, among other things. Finally, the last section presents current developments such as progressive metal from the 1990s to the present day.

"Yes's main sequence opened in a time of great creativity and experimentation in rock music generally, and one might roughly define the progressive rock period as running from 1968 to 1978. Certainly there were progressive rock artists and albums before 1968, and many progressive rock artists , including Yes, continued with their work beyond 1978. But those years define the period in which progressive rock was at full strength as a musical trend and as a force in culture more generally. Perhaps for a year or two, around 1972 or 1973, this was even the dominant trend. "

The roots [edit | Edit source]

The origins of progressive rock can be found mainly in Great Britain in the 1960s. Some rock bands tried to expand their music, based on simple blues structures and conventionally, mostly with guitar, bass and drums, to add new musical and textual dimensions. Political activism, which was connected to the social developments of the time, also contributed to the emergence of a new genre, whose protagonists and audience, far from traditional musical schemes, occupied themselves with new forms of music using instruments that were unusual for rock music at the time .

The advent of electronic keyboard instruments, such as the Mellotron and later the synthesizer, as well as the Hammond organ, which has been in use especially in jazz since the 1930s, greatly influenced the development of progressive rock in the late 1960s.

But not only the electronic instruments in rock music were new. Instruments and musical structures from jazz and classical music were also incorporated into the music in the early days of progressive rock. The classic line-up of a rock band consisting of guitar, drums and bass was initially expanded to include flute, saxophone, string instruments or brass instruments, later exotic instruments (e.g. the sitar from the Far Eastern culture) also became part of progressive rock.

Progressive rock not only expanded conventional rock music musically, but the pioneers of this genre also advanced into new textual dimensions. While the rock songs of the 1960s were mainly concerned with everyday topics and love, the musicians of progressive rock were already developing concept albums that followed a strictly thought-out textual and musical concept, behind which a social or political statement was often hidden. From the new, electronically influenced possibilities, music emerged whose texts were more politically and socially critical as well as music that initially dealt with drugs (psychedelic phase), then incorporated classical and folk music elements (classical phase), and finally jazz elements (concept Phase). In fact, jazz was much more developed in the meantime and was experimenting in the free area, which rock music did not dare to approach (here King Crimson should be named as an extremely progressive exception with the acceptance of free jazz elements: Cat food, In The Wake Of Poseidon, 1970).

Early examples of progressive tendencies are bands like the Beach Boys with their albumPet sounds (1966) or the Beatles with Rubber Soul (1965) and revolver (1966). But other artists and bands such as Frank Zappa and The Moody Blues are also among the roots of progressive rock.

King Crimson and The Nice are mainly considered to be the first progressive rock bands.

The classic phase Edit source]

The classic phase of progressive rock is the name given to the activities of the main representatives of the genre from 1969 to around 1976. The most important bands of this time include the British groups Genesis, Yes, King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. They are sometimes referred to as the "Big Four" of Prog. In addition to them, Mike Oldfield, Camel, Jethro Tull, Gentle Giant, Procol Harum and Van der Graaf Generator are among the most influential interpreters of that time. Other groups that belong to the Prog Rock environment, but are not necessarily considered to be typical representatives, are the bands of Canterbury Sound as well as Traffic, Uriah Heep, Iron Butterfly and even Deep Purple (mainly because of Jon Lord's love of classical music). Often bands like Pink Floyd or Supertramp are also included in the classic phase of Prog. Strictly speaking, this assignment is incorrect, but they still play and played rock music with quite progressive influences. It is therefore more likely to be assigned to art rock.

Great Britain [edit | Edit source]

It is considered the first album in progressive rock history In the Court of the Crimson King by King Crimson from 1969. On this album, the band around guitarist Robert Fripp anticipated many typical elements of the genre, which had a style-defining effect on numerous other bands and albums. The album is characterized above all by the intensive use of the mellotron, long and virtuoso instrumental parts, rhythmic and harmonic complexity as well as surreal texts.

In the following 1970, many of the well-known bands of the classic phase of progressive rock released their first albums. This includes the album Emerson, Lake & Palmer from the band of the same name, Trespass by Genesis and the self-titled debut album by Gentle Giant. Yes followed in 1971 The Yes album. It was on these albums that the major bands of the genre were able to live out their new, revolutionary music for the first time. After these first albums of progressive rock, the main representatives of the genre published their "classics" until the mid-1970s, on which they could develop their style further. Among the most famous and most respected albums of this time belong

  • Genesis: Nursery Cryme (1971), Foxtrot (1972), Selling England by the Pound (1973) and The Lamb lies down on Broadway (1974)
  • Yes: Fragile (1972), Close to the edge (1972), Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973) and Relayer (1974)
  • King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King (1969), In the Wake of Poseidon (1970), Lizard (1970), Larks' Tongues in Aspic (1973) and Red (1974)
  • Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Pictures at an Exhibition (1971), Tarkus (1971), Trilogy (1972) and Brain salad surgery (1973)

Mike Oldfield went along in 1973 Tubular bells a new way. It was an album-filling, two-part work that consisted of many different sections. Oldfield broke the barriers of rock music and created a sound that can be described as a mixture of rock, classical and world music. Here he took up a concept developed by minimal music composers such as Steve Reich, Philip Glass or Terry Riley. The slow, but permanent, hardly consciously perceptible change of a harmonically mostly quite simple pattern, which results in a constantly flowing music with an often hypnotic effect.

A special feature of the album was that Mike Oldfield recorded (almost) all of the numerous instruments (piano, glockenspiel, organ, bass, various guitars, percussion, various wind instruments, etc.) himself. The British band Camel was also able to release some notable prog albums in the 1970s. The band around guitarist and singer Andy Latimer was particularly successful with their 1974 album Mirage. The Alan Parsons Project dealt with his debut albumTales of Mystery and Imagination (1975) with the works of the American writer Edgar Allan Poe.

Another well-known prog band of the 70s was Gentle Giant. This band was characterized above all by their polyphonic singing, a rich instrumentation, but above all their contrapuntal compositional technique. Each member of the band played several instruments. The band was able to inspire the critics in the 70s with several albums. Probably best known In A Glass House (1973) and The Power And The Glory (1974). The British band Van der Graaf Generator, on the other hand, became known for the gloomy mood on their albums, the expressive vocals of Peter Hammill and their music dominated by saxophone and organ. One of the oldest prog bands is Jethro Tull, whose music forms an intersection with folk rock. The band around singer, guitarist and flautist Ian Anderson was founded in the 60s. The band's trademark are the flute solos by Anderson. With Thick As a Brick In 1972 the band brought a much-noticed concept album onto the market, which contains two contiguous pieces (which only had to be separated because of the short running time of an LP of 23 minutes per side) of a total of 43:50 minutes.

To the most important albums of the other prog bands belong to this time

  • Van der Graaf Generator: H to He Who Am The Only One (1970), Pawn Hearts (1971), Godbluff (1975) and Still life (1976)
  • Gentle Giant: Octopus (1972), In a glass house (1973), The Power and the Glory (1974), and Free hand (1975)
  • Mike Oldfield: Tubular bells (1973), Hergest Ridge (1974) and Ommadawn (1975)
  • Jethro Tull: Aqualung (1971), Thick As a Brick (1972), A passion play (1973), Was child (1974) and Minstrel in the Gallery (1975)
  • Manfred Mann's Earth Band: Messin ' (1973), Solar Fire (1973) and Nightingales & Bombers (1974)

Although the artists mentioned so far are almost without exception of English origin, it should not be concealed that progressive rock was never an exclusively British phenomenon.

North America Edit source]

American bands such as Kansas, Pavlov’s Dog, Utopia, Starcastle, Happy The Man, Hands and Yezda Urfa expanded the classic prog with influences from blues rock and country rock and gave it its own note through particularly bombastic arrangements and production. Hands and Yezda Urfa didn't manage to land a record deal in the 1970s, their albums weren't released until much later (1996-2004).

The Canadian rock band Rush, which has been active since 1974, is still one of the more important representatives of the genre.

Germany [edit | Edit source]

In West Germany it was primarily Grobschnitt, Hoelderlin, Novalis and Eloy who were able to achieve national awareness and sometimes six-figure sales with their symphonic style. In doing so, they took over the legacy of the Krautrock groups, which had already drawn attention to themselves from the late 1960s with their experimental sounds. Less well-known bands such as Neuschwanstein and Anyone's Daughter closely followed their British models (especially Genesis) without really providing independent impulses.

There were also a few prog bands in the GDR, the best known are probably Lift, Electra and the star combo Meißen, also known as the "Sachsen-Dreier".

The forgotten Schicke Führs Fröhling from Northern Germany can be described as Germany's most original and most independent prog export, who impressed not only Frank Zappa with their instrumental, jazz-rock-inspired progressive rock, but also had an important influence on retro-prog bands such as Änglagård be valid.

Italy [edit | Edit source]

Italy also had a flourishing prog scene in the 1970s, although it was not able to assert itself quite as strongly on the international level because of the Italian singing. Exceptions here are the groups Premiata Forneria Marconi and Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, who also became known in Italy through the release of albums specially sung in English and newly recorded. Important representatives of the so-called "Italo-Prog", whose characteristic, in addition to the typical ingredients of "classic Prog", is particularly Mediterranean guitar arrangements, lyrical singing and increased use of keyboard instruments, are Il Balletto Di Bronzo (with the albumYs), Le Orme (with the albums Uomo di Pezza, Felona E Sorona as Contrappunti), Museo Rosenbach (Zarathustra) and Arti & Mestieri (Tilt, Giro Di Valzer Per Domani).

End of the classic phase Edit source]

Progressive rock had reached its peak in the mid-1970s. Now there were personal and musical upheavals in some bands. For example, Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett left Genesis and Phil Collins took over the role of singer and band leader. This resulted in a change of style towards pop music. Similarly, many of the more commercially successful bands in the genre developed as they increasingly turned to more lucrative pop music. In addition, the emerging punk movement declared progressive rock, which was now considered pretentious and inflated, to be "dead" at the end of the 1970s (and its musicians for "boring old farts").

However, bands like Marillion took up the idea of ​​Prog Rock again in the 80s and implemented it in their own way.

The 80s Edit source]

After the classic phase of prog, this type of rock music suddenly disappeared from public interest in the mid-1970s. The previously celebrated greats of progressive rock were now considered old-fashioned, staid and too demanding. At the beginning of the 1980s, the zeitgeist turned to other musical developments such as the New Wave. The "harder" genres of music, hardcore punk and heavy metal, also gained in importance.

Contrary to these social developments and despite the general lack of interest in progressive rock music, the prog experienced a rebirth in the 80s. Some groups founded at the beginning of the decade had bands like Genesis, Yes or King Crimson as models and tried to copy their musical style at the beginning. This is where the early Marillion stood out, trying to imitate their great musical role model, Genesis. As a result, Marillions singer Fish was long held to be just a copy of Peter Gabriel. A good example of this tendency at Marillion is her longtrack »Grendel«, which is very similar to the well-known track "Supper's Ready" by Genesis.

In the following years bands like Marillion became more and more independent and a new style of music developed, the Neo-Prog. From then on, this term was used to summarize the music of the 80s, which musically referred to the prog bands of the 70s. Many stylistic elements of the classical phase were taken over and partly reinterpreted. The instrumentation was expanded, especially in the area of ​​keyboards, which resulted from the new technologies in the area of ​​electronic keyboard instruments. The music of the Neo-Prog can therefore be classified as strongly influenced by keyboard use. The typical representatives of Neo-Prog also attached more importance to catchy melodies. As a result, some titles from the neo-prog scene became internationally successful hits.

Well-known representatives of Neo-Prog include Marillion IQ, Saga and the SupergroupAsia. Some albums in the scene were able to gain great fame due to the presence of successful hits. Above all, this includes the albums Misplaced Childhood (1985) by Marillion with the single hits "Kayleigh" and "Lavender", as well as the album Asia (1982) by the band of the same name, which became a sales success with the song "Heat of the Moment", whereby these single hits are based on simple cadences of conventional rock music and the classification as neo-prog relates more to the other tracks on the albums. Another well-known album of the scene is The wake by IQ from 1985. This album is considered one of the best neo-prog albums by critics. However, it could not achieve such a high level of awareness as the aforementioned, as the work lacked a commercially successful single.

The main representatives of the classical phase of prog turned to commercial rock and pop music in the 80s. Genesis was able to celebrate great successes with albums such as Genesis and Invisible Touch in this decade. The studio albums were accompanied by world tours on which they filled entire stadiums. Yes, too, had a successful album with 90125, which contained the well-known hit "Owner of a lonely Heart". The other prog bands that shaped this style of music in the 1970s had a similar experience. Emerson, Lake & Palmer, however, were not active in the 80s, since the band split in 1979. It was not until the beginning of the 1990s that a reunion took place. The reunions of the early 90s (especially from Yes (union) and ELP (Black moon)) were an important engine of the prog revival of the 90s.

Apart from this type of progressive rock, which is quite suitable for the masses, a large number of bands formed in Europe around the end of the 70s to the beginning of the 80s, whose aim was to play complex pieces using both rock-typical and classical instrumentation and thereby harmonic and rhythmic barriers To break through pop / rock music, as the composers of the 20th century had already done in the classical period in the course of the new music. The spearheads of these so-called RIO / AvantProg bands were Henry Cow, Univers Zéro, Art Zoyd and Present.

Progressive rock today Edit source]

From the beginning of the 90s to the present day there have been some developments in progressive rock. The most important and decisive development of this time is the emergence of Progressive Metal. This new genre combines heavy metal, which has existed since the 80s, with progressive rock. The result of this synthesis is mostly complex and virtuoso rock music at a very high tempo. Progressive Metal is dominated by electric guitar and fast, deep bass runs. Most bands also work with synthesizers and keyboards. The best-known representatives of progressive metal include Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Queensrÿche, Vanden Plas with "Abydos" and Symphony X.

Another development of the 90s is the movement known as Retro-Prog, whose associated bands musically return to the roots of Prog in the 70s. Regional centers of this movement are Scandinavia with bands like The Flower Kings or the pioneers Änglagård and the USA with the successful group Spock's Beard. Another well-known representative of retro-prog was the supergroup Transatlantic, which was made up of members from Dream Theater, Spock's Beard, Flower Kings and Marillion.

There are also numerous bands that pick up on and develop the styles of the 1970s. Due to their close networking and the frequent project character of their musical activities, these often form local or national scenes. At the beginning of the new millennium, bands are particularly active in the classic prognoses England and Italy, but also in countries such as Sweden, Canada (Miriodor), USA (Echolyn, Glass Hammer) or Japan, where especially the Italian prog of the 70s and jazz, Zeuhl, or simply something weird is received (Mr. Sirius, Ars Nova, Ruins).

Musical activities in the 90s and today also showed some of the main representatives of the neo-prog of the 80s such as IQ, Saga and Arena. Marillion is still active to this day. Completely new trends in the 90s and today are set by bands known as "sound perfectionists" such as Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins and Tool, as well as Sigur Rós, Radiohead, The Amber Light, The Mars Volta, Dredg, Primus, Porcupine Tree or Oceansize.

Some representatives of the classic phase of Prog were also active in the 90s or are still active today, but have often changed their style significantly. After a few commercially extremely successful rock / pop albums in the 80s and early 90s, singer and bandleader Phil Collins left Genesis in 1995. The band tried a new vocalist, the Scot Ray Wilson. With him Genesis recorded another - commercially unsuccessful - album (Calling all stations) and after the European tour in 1998 only appeared with archive publications and various solo projects. In 2006, rumors about a new European tour in 2007 with the formation of Phil Collins were confirmed.

The band Yes released some albums in the 90s that are most likely to be assigned to the AOR. They are hardly favored by the critics and are rather overshadowed by simultaneously published live recordings and compilations from the 1970s. It is similar with other bands in the classical phase of prog. Very different from King Crimson, who, after their reunification in the 90s, play extremely demanding and complex prog, which is influenced by Balinese gamelan music and modern metal sound.

Furthermore, there are now a large number of cover bands that emulate the genre representatives from the classical phase, first and foremost Genesis. The official Genesis tribute band The Musical Box from Canada has particularly stood out, performing old Genesis concerts with the original sets and costumes in well-attended international concert tours. The Australian Pink Floyd Show gives the British Pink Floyd stage performances an Australian touch and was honored, among other things, with a performance offer on David Gilmour's birthday.

Characteristics of progressive rock Edit source]

Progressive rock expands popular rock music with influences from classical music, jazz and world music as well as new textual and conceptual dimensions. The most important and most stylistic features of the Prog are listed and explained here.

Musical complexity Edit source]

Progressive rock differs from conventional rock music primarily in its complex harmony, rhythm and melody. This also includes the frequent use (e.g. with King Crimson) of overlays of different rhythms (polyrhythmics) and time types (polymetrics). The Prog is characterized by modulations between sometimes unfamiliar keys, the use of intervals (major seventh, second, tritone, etc.) that were seldom used in conventional rock music as well as classical music of the 18th and 19th centuries and treated as dissonant, odd Bars (5, 7, etc.) and complex rhythms, time changes, as well as some melodic borrowings from classical or foreign music. The title "Infinite Space" by ELP, for example, changes from 7/4 to two bars in 3/4 and one bar in 4/4 before returning to the starting meter of the 7/4. The strong use of the second interval, which is more likely to be described as dissonant, is also striking here.

Hymnal elements [edit | Edit source]

As a counterpoint to the predominantly instrumental, complex passages, there is usually also a song-like component, in the design of which the richness of melodies is in the foreground. The Beatles are likely to have played a role as the most important inspiration for the founders of the genre. The main proponents of prog do not tend to regard the sheer complexity of their work as a measure of quality, but rather attach great importance to the harmonization of these two contrasting elements. Only in the marginal areas of the prog is a recurring refrain usually completely dispensed with.

Long compositions Edit source]

These pieces are often classified as epic pieces. In many cases these pieces are broken down into several different parts. Mostly, thematic or musical relationships are established between the different parts of a piece. For example, musical themes are taken up again later and / or varied. Well-known longtracks from the classic phase of the genre are "Close to the Edge" by Yes, "Supper's Ready" by Genesis or the 43-minute "Thick As a Brick" by Jethro Tull. But long and dissolute pieces are also popular with today's progressive rock bands. Examples of this are the almost hour-long "Garden of Dreams" by the Swedish band The Flower Kings and "Mei" by echolyn, but also "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" and "A Change of Seasons" by Dream Theater.

Concept albums Edit source]

These albums usually tell a coherent story with a protagonist (such as Snow by Spock's Beard, at the center of which is an albino), other albums contain songs that are only loosely related, e.g. due to similar themes in the individual songs (e.g. Aqualung by Jethro Tull, whose status as a concept album is accordingly controversial). Because of their length, the concept albums of progressive rock are often double albums, i.e. they were released on two records or CDs. Well-known concept albums of the genre are The Lamb lies down on Broadway of Genesis, which tells a specially developed surreal story, Tales from Topographic Oceans by Yes, which loosely refers to the Shastric writings of India, almost all of Magma's albums, which tell the story of the planet Kobaia in the form of an entire cycle in an artificial language and also convey spiritual ideas, which are very commercially successful Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd and MarillionsMisplaced Childhood, Stories about growing up, or Metropolis Part II: Scenes From A Memory from Dream Theater.

Extensive use of electronic instruments [edit | Edit source]