Progressive music styles
There's a large amount of bands doing different kinds of what is usually
considered as progressive music. This page is not intended to be
the ultimate effort to classify them, but a guide into some different types
of progressive approaches that one can found. Probably the number of lists
that can be made equals the number of people doing them. See the
Gibraltar encyclopedia of progressive rock
for the original issue. Be critic if you want to. Thanks for the comments,
additions and changes already suggested.
Something more than a minimalist kind of electronic music (although not
always electronic). The bands trying to make this kind of music have always
been very experimental.
- BandsEno, Cluster, los primeros Kraftwerk, Neu, etc.
The very border of progressive music in which more commercial
styles of music were created at a different angle. An overview of
how to do more commercial but beautiful music. Not much
progressive but almost.
- Bands: Be Bop Deluxe, early Brian Eno, Roxy Music, Toto, etc.
This kind of compositions are often written, performed and produced by
just one person, so they are usually very identified with them. Mike Oldfield,
for example is one of the clearest instances, who wrote themes mixing elements
from hard to celtic music, becoming very popular. There are a lot of
influences and approaches to this music, as expected.
- BandasMike Oldfield, Jean-Pascal Boffo, Jean-Michel Jarre,
Alfredo Carrión, Lluis Llach (algo), etc.
A region in England where a unique style originated. The region's
name has now become the label for the style of music. Maybe the
earliest form of progressive, Canterbury bands wallowed in
complexity and sounded extremely English. The ideas resulting from
this form of music were very original. Often quite jazzy in a light
and airy sort of way.
- Bands: Caravan, Soft Machine, Hatfield & The North, etc.
More accessibly related, bands starting with The Nice
that fused classical symphonic music, i.e Bach, Beethoven with rock structures
and were often quite pompous yet were quite successful at their time.
Usually a three man format, but not neccessarely.
The Nice, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Le Orme, The Enid, Ekseption, Trace, Sky,
There are a number of bands playing good music that could be categorised as
progressive or not depending on who listens. At least their music is at
times complex and beautiful. We are again in the borders of progressiveness,
from rock to pop. These are accesible bands for almost any listener, maybe
that's why some of them are among the most popular bands in the prog
(and not prog) world.
Queen, Supertramp, Electric Light Orchestra (al principio), Dire Straits, Boston,
Moody Blues, Asia, etc.
These bands had a certain common sound. It's something dificult to describe
except by the fact that they used to have a strong guitar presence.
Focus, Finch, Supersister, Crucis (Arg.), Earth & Fire, etc.
Early British Progressive
Most of this material is associated with the original label "Vertigo".
This style combined the psychodelic music of late 60's with the symphonic
rock of the 70s mixed in equal proportions.
May Blitz, Cressida, Spring etc.
Often mis-categorized by being called 'new age',
much of this music was around far before they coined that awful
term. Arguably the most explorative of the prog genres, this is a
wide open field and is categorized by the use of almost all
electronic equipment. Often quite ambient and soothing but not
necessarily! Only for the very patient.
Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Steve Roach, early Popol Vuh, Heldon, Pinhas,
Flexible label that tries to describe a kind of progresive music more
straight. There is a lot of material from the german label Bellaphon
from the early 70's. Often combined with "Kraut Rock". The labels
Ohr, Brain, Komische, and Pilz can be included. Some bands were
characterized by the presence of female vocalists.
Nektar, Message, Amon Düül II, Can, Faust, Nine Days Wonder,
Earth & Fire, Sandrose, Analogy, etc.
Very weird genre that may do anything at any time and can be quite
stunning to quite horrible depending on what you are listening
to. A lot of this is organised noise, electronics and
samples. Mainly textural rather than melodic or rythmic.
Orb, Nurse With Wound, Current 93, Cranioclast, Biomechanoid, etc.
Close to the symphonic genre but clearly french - a style consistent of
progressive rock and theater sensibility that was continued by the
disguising acts of gabriel.
Ange, Mona Lisa, Angipatch etc.
More explorative jazz-rock that took this simple form of music to a
new level of innovation. Maybe a little jazzier than most
progressive music, but rockier than most jazz. Basically instrumental
themes, usually with melodic-soloist structures coming from jazz.
On the other hand, there are other more rocker-symphonic varieties.
Mahavishnu Orchestra, Brand X, Bruford, Colosseum, Iceberg, Embryo, Area, Dixie Dregs,
A dificult Genre to be defined except for the fact of coming from Italy.
Maybe the care for the vocal sophistication, the dynamics and the
elegant music they make.
Premiata Forneria Marconi, Banco, Nuova Era, Semiramis, New Trolls (some),
Music that fused Bartók, Prokofiev, and Satie
20th century classical music with Crimsonian rock structures and
chamber rock. Can be difficult to get into, as bands like these
were way out on a limb and quite different. Also, it tends to be
very complex, requiring many listens to get a grip on it. Generally
always worth the effort.
Univers Zero, Art Zoyd, ZNR, etc.
Symphonic rock done in a typically more simple or
commercial format. Very lush but lacking the complexity of
tradition progressive rock. Mostly an 80's and 90's phenomenon.
Marillion, IQ, Pendragon, Twelfth Night, Aragon, Jadis,
Grey Lady Down, Arena, etc.
A variety of music that took simple folk songs and did
something quite new with them. There were many forms of this
Emtidi, Witthuser & Westrupp, Malicorne, etc.
Here we explore the frontiers between symphonic and hard rock, where the
borderline is fuzzy. Some can see this as complex heavy metal, some others
as power symphonic rock. Rhythmic complexity, soloist exhuberancy, power
vocals and spectacular productions are some of their features.
Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Magellan, Shadow Gallery, etc.
Progressive Space Fusion
Very jazz-oriented but with a hard-metal component more evident than for
fusion bandas. Important doses of synthesizer effects are used and they are
Gong, Magma, Ozric Tentacles, Neo, Carpe Diem, Djam Karet (algo), etc.
Rock In Opposition (RIO):
A form of music coined by ex-Henry Cow drummer
Chris Cutler. This type of music consistently defies
categorization (except for `RIO') and is extremely challenging and
often hard to listen to. However, it is very rewarding in the long
run. The lyrical bent is often political, especially for those
bands Cutler has a hand in. Technically, bands like Art Zoyd and
Univers Zero are RIO as they subscribed to Cutlers broad musical
ethic. however, their sound is generally subsumed under the
'Neo-Classical Progressive' heading.
Henry Cow, Art Bears, Samla Mammas Manna, News From Babel, Thinking Plague,
Jazz oriented but typically with a heavier rock edge or
'punch' bands in this category used heavy amounts of trippy
synth effects and were incredibly rhythmic.
You era Gong, Magma, Ozric Tentacles, Neo, Carpe Diem, Djam Karet (algo),
Like the above but without the jazz edge, more of a straight
forward type of space rock. Hawkwind were almost the be all and end
all of this genre and were the innovators.
Hawkwind, Amon Düül [UK], etc.
Characterized by lush instrumentations and very melodic
vocals and usually written like a piece of classical music,
put to a `rock' orchestra. Different from Neo-progressive by being
much more complicated, especially in rhythm or scale structure.
Yes, Genesis (early), Kansas, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Camel, Atoll,