Progressive rock is a genre that emerged in the late 1960s. It was an attempt to elevate rock music by merging it with classical music, often incorporating jazz, folk, and electronic music elements. Prog started as a movement, but some artists have developed it into a style that has attracted fans from other genres while still retaining its identity.
The term “progressive” refers to how these artists tried to push forward a musical style. They were not content with simply playing three-chord rock and roll tunes but wanted to take things further by experimenting with new sounds and exploring different formats. The best progressive groups have appealed to fans of other styles while retaining their own identity, becoming one of the defining genres in music history.
The Mars Volta – Are You In? (2003)
The Mars Volta was formed when Omar Rodríguez-López played with Cedric Bixler Zavala, both of whom were in the post-hardcore band At The Drive In. After ATDI split up, they decided to form a new group together. Omar’s brother Marcel Rodríguez-López joined them on guitar. For their first album, De-Loused in the Comatorium (2003), John Frusciante from Red Hot Chili Peppers also participated as a session musician. Their sound is quite hard to define; although many critics have described it as progressive rock, some listeners say it falls into other genres like math rock or post-punk. Either way, Are You In? Is an excellent record that helps you get acquainted with this great band.
Porcupine Tree – The Incident (2009)
Steven Wilson is the only permanent member in the band that goes by Porcupine Tree. He writes and records music that combines heavy metal with psychedelic, progressive, ambient music, and space rock. It has been described as “a thinking man’s Pink Floyd,” which is an apt description for this group of seasoned musicians who are not afraid to experiment or try something new. Their albums take you on a journey; they get your full attention, make you think about what you’re hearing while at the same time making sure that you groove along to their great riffs and melodies. They’ve had many lineup changes over the years, but their latest album shows them reaching new heights. While the previous record, Fear of a Blank Planet (2007), was more doom-laden and aggressive, The Incident is a return to the group’s psychedelic roots.
Frank Zappa – Joe’s Garage (1979)
Perhaps the most famous artist to have been labeled as progressive rock is Frank Zappa. He became known for his wacky lyrics and compositions that were often satirical or just plain weird. Even though he has been hailed by many critics as one of the best composers in music history, his complex works have limited his appeal among mainstream audiences. That said, if you’re willing to take a few steps towards being open-minded about music, then you’re going to find yourself appreciating what this man has done for rock and roll music in general; his influence on the genre has been immense. Zappa’s 1979 album, Joe’s Garage, is a great starting point to see what he can do; it was voted best album of 1979 by readers of NME.
Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
When you think about progressive rock, Pink Floyd often comes to mind. Their sound is characterized by long instrumental passages and songs that are divided into several sections with different moods and themes; this gives their records an epic feel which makes them easily identifiable among other albums out there. The band got together in 1965 but didn’t start recording until 1967 when they released their first single, Arnold Layne/See Emily Play on London Records. They were not considered true prog artists at the time; they were labeled as psychedelic rock because of their sound effects. The group’s first album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967), was an instant hit, leading to them signing with EMI Records. From 1967-1979 Pink Floyd produced some fantastic albums like A Saucerful of Secrets (1968) which is one of their best works, or even Meddle (1971). Their most famous work, however, is Dark Side Of The Moon (1973), a record that has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide, making it the third best-selling studio album in history.
Yes – Fragile (1971)
Together for almost fifty years now, this British band is still going strong despite numerous lineup changes over the years. Yes started as a progressive rock band, but the inclusion of other styles like jazz and folk has given their music an epic length and scope, making them one of prog’s most influential groups. Their first album was described by AllMusic as “a cosmic concept album about how music benefits mankind” and it was released in 1969 under the name Yes; they changed their name to just ‘Yes’ later on because it sounded more commercial. The group’s best work remains Tormato (1978), although Fragile (1971), Close To The Edge (1972), or even Relayer (1974) are excellent albums that you shouldn’t miss if you’re into this genre.
Radiohead – Kid A (2000)
Formed in 1985, Radiohead didn’t start making waves until 1995 when they released their third album, The Bends. Their sound was described as alternative rock, but the band’s music has evolved to include progressive rock and techno/electronica genres. While it is true that Radiohead has always had a few experimental things going on in their records, this fact becomes more evident in albums like Kid A (2000), Amnesiac (2001), or even The King of Limbs (2011). Their latest album features some very cool electronic elements; while some other prog bands are taking the genre back to its roots, Radiohead is trying something new which sets them apart from many other groups out there today.
Porcupine Tree – Deadwing (2005)
Porcupine Tree was formed by Steven Wilson in 1987 with the help of Richard Barbieri, Colin Edwin, and Chris Maitland. They recorded their first album, On The Sunday of Life…, in 1991, but they didn’t become popular until 1995 when they released Stupid Dream. Their music is characterized by lengthy instrumental sections mixed with ambient sounds; this combination makes for an atmospheric sound described as “spacerock.” Deadwing (2005) is a good example of what this band can do; if you’re into space rock, then it’s safe to say that you might end up loving them.
King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)
Robert Fripp and Michael Giles were members of Yes before forming King Crimson in 1969. Their sound was a mix of progressive rock and psychedelic music which won them a lot of fans, but their first album, In the Court of the Crimson King (1969), was hailed as brilliant by critics all over the world. The record is one of prog’s best works; it has been ranked as an influence on many bands after it, including Marillion, who even referenced this album in their 1995 song Pictures On My Wall from Brave.
Yes – Close to the Edge (1972)
Holding down second place is another album from Yes called Close To The Edge (1972). It features some great musicianship courtesy of Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Steve Howe, and Rick Wakeman whose sounds combined with lyrics written by Chris Squire make for a very inspiring record. They’re able to mix musical elements from jazz, rock, and classical music into a single album which is something the band has been known for doing over the years. Although this work doesn’t have as many lyrics as its predecessor, Fragile (1971), it manages to communicate an epic mood that makes you feel like you’re floating in space while listening to it; yes, prog can make you do that sometimes.
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
We couldn’t talk about progressive rock without mentioning Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon (1973). This landmark release was one of their best works, and even though they’ve gone through a few lineup changes since then, they’ve managed not to lose any of their originality. The band is most known for creating concept albums that tell a story, with each song being an important part of the whole; this approach has become one of prog’s trademarks and has inspired many bands out there to do the same thing. This album was voted best album in history by readers of NME; it even topped Rolling Stone’s “The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time” list.
The third season kicks off with our annual Ballet + Beer series, which celebrates the importance of jazz music as an American jewel of dance, poetry, music, and singing. The audience of Ballet Jazz + Beer enjoys a unique opportunity to see what happens when classical jazz and ballet are combined with contemporary and post-modern dance.
Jazz is a highly improvisational form of music created by African-Americans influenced by European harmonic structures and African rhythms from Ragtime and Blues characterized by syncopated rhythms, polyphonic interplays, different degrees of improvisation, and deliberate pitches variations using original timbres. Its roots lie in African and European classical music, dance, and art.
The Evolution of Jazz
The music that became jazz evolved from a series of assimilated mixtures of black and white folk music, a popular style with roots in West Africa and Europe. Jazz has its roots in American pop songs, which make up a large part of its repertoire: blues, hokum, circus, marching, and popular dance music. Solo jazz dance and steps are vintage jazz with jazz roots, characterized by improvisation, syncopated steps, rhythms, and call and response music which occurs in the vocabulary and steps of popular tradition.
Contemporary choreographers working with jazz dance and its sister tap dance align one of the many different styles in the family tree of jazz dance. Since the end of the 1910s, “jazz dance” often refers to black dance forms associated with the style. Created in the 1960s, her work as background music was not as complex or innovative as traditional jazz. There are many reasons why most jazz dances taught and performed until the 1980s did not regard jazz as their primary source of inspiration and accompaniment. Jazz explores new ways to use melody, rhythm, and harmony to create sounds.
African and European Roots
Returning to their roots in dance music from Europe, the jazzers combined European house, techno, drums and bass, jungle music, acoustic, electronic, and sampled sounds into a popular populist variation. The early smooth jazz pioneers did not betray their musical roots, but they found a way to remain relevant to the time they lived.
Jazz was one of the first genres of music due to its spread into a completely new world of communication and information. Jazz music was danced in Broadway musicals and gained mainstream popularity in Chicago cabarets. A group of women described the music of Benson and Bob James as “smooth jazz,” and the term stuck.
In general, modern jazz is a form that developed after the Second World War and is now called mainstream, as the music of various bands by Gerry Mulligans makes clear. The forces that exaggerated smooth jazz were partly responsible for its decline, as new technologies for measuring radio ratings found that they could not record music without the background noise. Compared to European music a century earlier, where trained voices sounded perfect on instruments, jazz moved in the opposite direction: it trained instruments to sound like emotional human voices, like blues.
Its purpose is clear and enlightening despite all its challenges and demands as a musical form, the various changes it has undergone through the 20th century and into the 21st century, and its aspirations to embody and transform music’s modernity. It remains an art that many, many of its followers do not understand. Its roots lie in a society in which music and dance are an integral part of daily life. Music attracts intellectuals and artists, music whose influence can be felt on the bandstand, the dance floor, and the recording studio.
As a Manhattan School of Music student, he started playing contemporary jazz with saxophonist Greg Osby and recorded fiery live albums with Banff, New York, and others. There is a long history of Northern European musicians combining traditional techniques with a pastoral aesthetic.
Contemporary jazz music is a number of styles that developed in the late 1940s and 1950s, primarily in the United States and, to a lesser extent Europe. It also often incorporates elements of related musical genres, including soul-jazz. Contemporary jazz includes several subgenres that reflect events and trends in African-American music, such as bebop and hard bop, which originated in the mid-1940s. The term also refers to a period of increasing complexity in jazz that began around 1960 and continued through the 1970s, with multiple influences from European symphonic music; this time is post-modern jazz.
Described by some as “the last great era in American Popular Music,” it is characterized by complex rhythms that are often played at faster tempos and greater freedom in the use of modal and non-modal sounds; it also includes influences from other genres such as blues. The word “contemporary” has been used to refer to several periods in music history, including the period between 1885 and 1915 (the late 19th century), when jazz began to develop in the US, and the period between 1915 and 1945 (the early 20th century), when jazz combined with other elements to become what would be called “contemporary.” Contemporary music is at once traditional, stylistic, or innovative, yet also contemporary.
Accordo dei Contrari is a music blog created to promote music that doesn't fit into any established genre, but rather is a mixture of different styles. The blog currently features reviews for albums, singles, and EPs by artists from all over the world.