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What makes a band progressive?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by d8g3jdh, Apr 9, 2006.

  1. d8g3jdh

    d8g3jdh Guest

    Aug 9, 2005
    Hmmm. Is it the complexicity of what they play? Polyrythms? Or what? I mean, the beatles progressed music more than any other band in history, so are they progressive? What is it that separates Rush, Yes and Dream Theater (and many other bands) from the others?
  2. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    the absence of any kind of groove maybe? :D

    Sorry, I just don't like progressive music...
    Supertramp is as progressive as I can go!! :D
  3. Joe Gress

    Joe Gress

    Dec 22, 2005
    Pueblo, CO
    From what I've heard about progressive rock, it is music that was meant for mostly listening too. Not dancing too. It is more complex, and requires you to listen to it more intently than most music that you can just find the simple beat and move with the music.
    To me it sounds like that with progressive rock, it it is hard to really find the grove because it is more complex, and requires a functioning brain to listen to and fully understand it.
  4. Mixmasta J

    Mixmasta J

    Dec 4, 2004
    I always thought it was just rock that made almost everyone a soloist. A style of music where each instrument is featured, and each player has an immense amount of skill. (See Rush)
  5. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    +1, maybe Queen
  6. Progessive refers to the progression of each instrument. Each instrument, wether its bass, guitar, drums, organs & keys, whatever, all get a major part. Each is very complicated and intricate. Its actually not the best music for LISTENERS, but for other musicians. It makes musicians think and listen intensly to hear whats going on with each instrument. I promise you that at least 80% of Rush's crowds play guitar bass or drums, and they do nothing but play Rush tunes all day.

    It also refers to a Progression in the songs themselves. Most progressive music is 8 to 10 minutes long, constantly recycling ideas. There is movement in the songs from part to part.
  7. In truth, for music to be proggressive it has to be new and innovative, proggressing beyond the current bounds of music.

    Then there is Prog.........................a lot of it isn't really that proggressive .
  8. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    I assume you're exaggerating to make a point? If at least 80% of Rush's crowds "do nothing but play Rush tunes all day" Rush would play in 50-seat clubs, not theaters and stadiums.
  9. Ah, but what if they played at night, when their fans were done playing their tunes?
  10. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA

    :meh: Let me guess, the only prog you've listened to is Rush and Dream Theater, right?

    I'm sorry but................... Supertramp.......... if you think they have a groove, King Crimson's 80s work is James ****ing Brown
  11. Against Will

    Against Will Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    Big Sound Central

    Prog for me has become synonymous w/ hella boring, flowery pseudo-psychaedelia about space ships and King Arthur. Kind of nice cover art, don't bother with the disc itself though.

    That being said, King Crimson's Beat album is cool, and a lot of Krautrock (which some claim is Prog, but which I refuse to accept) has some really nice beats that have been used pretty extensively in hip-hop. Swell Maps is more punk than prog, but all the guys in it were pretty heavily influenced by prog rock bands. They took kind of proggy music, made it using old, beat-up instruments and released it DIY style.
  12. Prog has groove, except that it continually changes within the song...ie - doesn't "stay the same"(see disco)

    Some prog music has it's own ebb and flow to it, going through progressions, or changes....

    Tool never sounded too "flowery" to me, nor did "Red" from King Crimson...they sound to me like something too powerful to put into words.

    Look into prog's biggest influence, and I think you'll find classical music at it's root.
  13. I think it's because the music tells a story separate from the lyrics of the song...
  14. What a great thread. I get asked this quite a bit (bass & Stick player for Dimension X).

    Last summer Dimension X had the privelage of playing a few dates of the gigantour while it was rolling through the midwest. On the bill was Dream Theater & Symphony X which are "prog" bands, and the headliner Megadeth, and array of other acts from Near Punk to extreme metal - which to me are not "prog" bands.

    What I thought about these other bands before we played and what I think about them now, that I've met them and hung out with some of them. Is that progressive music tends to be different things to different people. But in the case of the Gigantour - most acts were selceted because they were/are at the forefront of their sub genre inside of the metal / prog classification.

    I think at one point Genesis was a very progressive band - and as they got more commercial they lost that edge - but my drummer disagrees saying that they are still progressive - even if the sound is somehting I don't like.

    Every album we produce the label sends out 300 or so "promo" copies to reviewers and media folks, and then we get the pleasure of sitting back and reading these reviews. Wonderful people these reviewers, but what I've found is they too also have a different opinion of progressive - this, that, or the other. Some call it prog rock, some prog metal, some space rock, neo classical rock, and on and on and on.

    I guess there is no "right answer" I can give you some basic facts from my own experience though.

    1.) Prog music sells better in Europe & Canada than in the US
    2.) Russia is a huge new market beginning to open up
    3.) Mostly other musicians will buy your stuff.
    4.) The guys that are not musicians tend to be very anaylitical people.
    5.) When attending a Prog show - do not plan on picking up chicks. If for some reason you see a woman at a show - marry her immediately.
    6.) If your album sells 10,000 copies your doing well, break 30,000 and it's like going gold in the real world.
    7.) The fan base is spread out so much that tours are not practical on a big scale - you'll average 100 people per show in the US if your doing well, and have a good promoter, and booking company. Our biggest audience with the gigantour was 5000 people in Milwaukee (our home town)
    8.) Most all of the other "Prog" people you will meet are super cool people. Very nice, mostly normal people, with families, and lives, and just love playing music for themselves.
    9.) Bass Players in Prog tend to ERB players (Myself included), In fact someone should do a study on the string to string ratio between prog players and non prog players.

    Anyway, enough of my ramblings - great thread.

    Best Wishes,
    DR Burkowitz

  15. Didn't want to mislead anyone - The Gigantour sold well throughout the country and has been the exception (In my experience) of prog shows.

    We also did a tour with Mastermind and seemed to max out at 100 - 125 people per show. That was more like the rest of my experience. Whether we toured with someone else or on our own.

    best wishes,
    DR Burkowitz
  16. LizzyD

    LizzyD Chocoholic

    Oct 15, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    The Wikipedia has a great write-up about progressive rock here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_rock

    As a long time listener and student of this and all types of music, I believe that in order to understand what "prog" is you really should delve into the whole history of rock music and what was going on in the 60's that spurred those pioneering progressive bands on. :)
  17. Here are some common characteristics of “progressive” music, I think:

    1 – The performers don’t start out thinking of themselves as playing “progressive” whatever. If they do, then they are probably just mimicking other prog bands.

    2 – The songwriting and performance exhibits a large musical vocabulary, and incredible fluency of whatever genre they’re being progressive in.

    3 – That genre, the blank in “progressive ____” isn’t new but somehow traditional sub-categorizations tend to fall short as critics stumble over their sub-sub-genre nomenclature, the only correct terms are probably those as broad as progressive “rock” or progressive “metal.”

    4 – The music isn’t usually innovative in an obvious, ear-catching way, like some kind of avant-garde Frankenstein creation, but rather in as a discovery, revealing that the previous boundaries (by consensus) of songwriting were imaginary. Take Tool for example. Everybody splooged when Lateralus was released (except those who did so at their earlier releases), as it exposed a lot of people to odd time signatures and other musical thingies by presenting them in neatly packaged, accessible, no-loose-ends, all-in-one-key fashion. Nowadays, the album sounds run-of-the-mill, and almost boring, since every decent rock band these days and most people’s musical palettes have been influenced by them.
  18. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    for me, progressive music is music that pushes each instrument to the limits. so i also include some fusion and jazz into this category. bands like rush, yes and to an extent the who all pushed their respective instruments beyond the 'norm' of their respective genres. likewise, thelonious monk was pushing jazz piano into new directions, stanley clarke, victor wooren and jaco(among others) were pushing jazz/fusion bass into new directions, and jon luc ponty and bela fleck are still pushing the violin and banjo beyond the accepted norm. miles davis, ron carter and charlie mingus, all pushing their respective instruments beyond their accepted boundaries. banjo in fusion? who the hell would have thought that was possible before bela made it big?

    so i think its more the philosophy behind the music that defines progressive music moreso than the the actual music or genre.
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I don't know about Rush - who I really hate to be honest - but to me, Yes are the archetypal Progressive Rock band and it's pretty clear what sets them apart from a band like the Beatles for example.

    So - the Beatles, wrote songs that maybe had unsuual chords - but were still basically coming from a very definite traditon of verse/chorus repeat a few times - short sintrumental interlude maybe and something that people could sing along to and get stuck in their head. Something that any person could understand and like in one listening - hence their enormous success as a singles band.

    So to take Yes - their "songs" are extended over a much longer period - they have bigger structures and you might not get a vocal or recognisable chorus for 10 minutes. The instrumental interludes can go on for longer periods and be the focus of the piece. Also - it's not always just verse-chorus etc. - the instrumental music can develop - the way classical music will use Sonata form to develop ideas and build longer structures. So lastly - the tunes generally need several listens to take in - the structure and what is going on needs repeated listening before you realise what they are doing and where the music is going to go... so basically this lends itself to albums .

    Basically you have the difference between a singles band and an album band - which is where Genesis clearly chaged their focus - so Gabriel era things like "Supper's Ready" or "Watcher of the Skies" are clearly Progressive - but Sussudio is not!! ;)
  20. elros


    Apr 24, 2004
    Proprietor, Helland Musikk Teknologi
    Me and my drummer friend talked a bit about this the other day. We figured that Progressive music is all about Progress, which means Movement, Development, Growth &c. This can be applied on many levels. A riff can be developed - it can start out as something and end up as something else. As can a rythmic pattern, a melody line, time signature, dynamics &c. And also on a larger level, a song can grow from something into something very different (which I find to be the case with many Dream Theater songs, esp. the more recent ones). And even larger - you have the concept albums. And a progressive band will also grow and develop itself. (so for those that don't like the way Dream Theater or Genesis change - it's part of their nature to change, I'd say)

    So you don't need odd time signatures to be progressive.
    But time signatures are one aspect that can (and perhaps should) progress, just as the other elements in the music.

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