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It seems to me that this is where some of the energy lost from traditional classical music went to: the great progressive rock movement of the 70s. Called Art-Rock or Progressive-Rock, or Prog-Rock, it featured rock musicians who were about more than producing 3-minute radio songs. They wanted to write really good, beautiful music, music that was well-composed, longer in duration than radio songs, often featuring long instrumental passages and featuring musicians who played electrified instruments which they were quite expert at, sometimes to the point of being virtuosic. I have long held that each major musical movement is in a general sense represented by one instrument. Classical music: the violin. Jazz: the saxophone. Rap: the human voice. Rock: the electric guitar. I realize this is an oversimplification, it’s just a general statement. Rush is a Canadian band which produced the album linked here, back in 1980, and which contains what seems to me to be an example of some of the finest music produced by the genre. Alex Lifeson, the guitarist, is probably someone you’ve never heard of, but he’s a fine example of the virtuosic playing that Rush and some of the bands of that era produced. It is a fine music, and I think it will be remembered. The whole album “Permanent Waves” is linked to here. If you just listen to the first two minutes or so, that’s probably enough to get a sense of how good he and the band is. How does this relate to classical music? In my mind this is where we should go - capture the energy of great bands like Rush, recognize that this is a serious music, and bring the electronic instruments into classical composition - you want audiences, here is a band that has had a big audience for 40 years. P.s. listen to the whole album >

https://youtu.be/vV6k1JRMgN8

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Hi Gav Brown,

This is a very interesting topic - and at first glance complicated as it (progressive rock) relates to classical music.

Some of the groups i have found interesting (to mind blowing) with some of their pieces are:  King Crimson, Pink Floyd (if they qualify), Robert Fripp,  (even some of Bowie's stuff from '74 - '79 ?) Shakti, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Robert Fripp, ELP,  P. Gabriel - 2nd, 3rd, and 4th albums… (not to forget Chick Corea, J. Mclaughlin, and L. Ritenour, some stuff there, but, perhaps that is more Jazz oriented.. still, it was happening concurrently, and styles were mixing, which i think was part of the point)

Today there is 'Tool' and 'Mars Volta', among others.  What do you think of these last 2, Gav?  (I am not so sure, myself).

Does, Bjork - with some of her tunes fall under this category? … Also,  What of Scott Walker's later work (which i find very interesting)  - these are extended 'songs' ...

This is an interesting topic indeed Gav.

For a long time, starting in the 1960's, I have wondered why what

you are bringing up here, hasn't evolved.  It, to me, seems to be

something that is a natural progression, tho' it rarely happened.

I remember listening, in my late teens, to Pink Floyd and thinking

yes.. this is where music is headed. Yes is another group)

I got to see Rush at the Warner Theater(in DC) and it was a good performance,

but I've never thought of them in the same category myself.

McCartney tried a more 'epic' work that didn't do very well -to the best of

my knowledge. There have been others who I thought might break away

and expand their music, I even thought at one time that Elton John had the

potential to do something greater, but he went commercial instead. 

I think this genre needs to be encouraged and still have hope that it might

happen someday.

ps- I still enjoy the 2 to 3 minute stuff from the mid 50's thru the 60's .

It's fun to go back and 're-live' those days via the music.       RS

Hi Gregorio,

I am familiar with many of the bands you mention and like most of them. All of them struck out into new territory and challenged the idea that rock or jazz had to be a limited form. Many styles were indeed mixing, and each of them produced fresh sounds to varying degrees of success. I think one of the things that makes America great is immigration, people coming from other places bring their different thoughts, cultures, and music, constantly refreshing our culture. So it is with these bands mixing styles - it keeps it fresh (you thought I was veering off-topic for a second there probably). The bands you asked my opinion on I am not familiar with. Most of the bands you mentioned had strong electric guitar presence on them. I personally think it is one of the most expressive instruments in history and would make a fine lead instrument in a concerto (screechings and moanings included). Floyd definitely qualifies. Thanks for your reply!

gregorio X said:

Hi Gav Brown,

This is a very interesting topic - and at first glance complicated as it (progressive rock) relates to classical music.

Some of the groups i have found interesting (to mind blowing) with some of their pieces are:  King Crimson, Pink Floyd (if they qualify), Robert Fripp,  (even some of Bowie's stuff from '74 - '79 ?) Shakti, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Robert Fripp, ELP,  P. Gabriel - 2nd, 3rd, and 4th albums… (not to forget Chick Corea, J. Mclaughlin, and L. Ritenour, some stuff there, but, perhaps that is more Jazz oriented.. still, it was happening concurrently, and styles were mixing, which i think was part of the point)

Today there is 'Tool' and 'Mars Volta', among others.  What do you think of these last 2, Gav?  (I am not so sure, myself).

Does, Bjork - with some of her tunes fall under this category? … Also,  What of Scott Walker's later work (which i find very interesting)  - these are extended 'songs' ...

Hi Roger,

Floyd's music I have always thought is deserving of symphonic treatment, it is often epic in scale, although not all of their works. Yes' music has actually been played by a symphony. Elton John is a fine musician who I agree with your opinion about - a great talent who went commercial. I enjoy the two-three minute stuff too. I like just about every kind of music I have ever heard. It is in my opinion not only the finest artform, but also greatest thing to be involved in. If I had a choice to be an OK electric guitarist or the greatest accountant in the world, it would be a no-brainer. Thanks for your post!

roger stancill said:

This is an interesting topic indeed Gav.

For a long time, starting in the 1960's, I have wondered why what

you are bringing up here, hasn't evolved.  It, to me, seems to be

something that is a natural progression, tho' it rarely happened.

I remember listening, in my late teens, to Pink Floyd and thinking

yes.. this is where music is headed. Yes is another group)

I got to see Rush at the Warner Theater(in DC) and it was a good performance,

but I've never thought of them in the same category myself.

McCartney tried a more 'epic' work that didn't do very well -to the best of

my knowledge. There have been others who I thought might break away

and expand their music, I even thought at one time that Elton John had the

potential to do something greater, but he went commercial instead. 

I think this genre needs to be encouraged and still have hope that it might

happen someday.

ps- I still enjoy the 2 to 3 minute stuff from the mid 50's thru the 60's .

It's fun to go back and 're-live' those days via the music.       RS

Hi Bob,

The Moody's is a good band. They are still around I think. They even had classical orchestras play with them (as did ELP, including at live performances, something which drove Carl Palmer, the drummer, crazy). Your point about the very notion of electric guitar turning somebody off: I get it, but I wonder if somebody actually made a classical piece featuring electric guitar that was good (I certainly think it could be done), that that attitude might change. I bet this actually will happen someday. Thanks for your post!

Bob Porter said:

And don't forget Moody Blue's Days of Future Past, which was billed as a mix of classical and rock music. Although to me it just seemed like a rock band with a string back up. We all liked it though.

The problem is still that there are folks that like classical music just the way it is. As soon as you mention electric guitar, you've lost them. Kids would listen to 15 minutes of IN-NA-DADA-DA-VIDA, but cringe at a movement of Beethoven. My guess is that those kids as adults have the same musical tastes.

There was also the Joe Beck/Sabicus album that tried to mesh rock and flamenco. There is little I like better that a good power trio, and distortion lead.

Perhaps I smell a contest brewing. Write a piece for some kind of orchestra and rock (not just electric) instruments. 

I agree that there is a world of potential here - particularly for the electric guitar.   How many other instruments can churn out such a wide variety of sounds?  The best of Prog Rock is essentially chamber music played on electric instruments in my opinion.  I have yet to be wowed, however, by hearing a full orchestra attempt to play the music of groups such as Pink Floyd or YES.   They attempt to convey the "bigness" of the music but something gets lost in the translation, and the end result sounds watered down to my ears.   Given a choice between hearing the guitar riff near the beginning of "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" played by solo guitar, or by the London Symphony Orchestra, I'll choose solo guitar (preferably Gilmour's) every time. I suspect that smaller ensembles would be much better able to pull this type of music off.

Regarding Bob's comments about kids' tastes, oddly enough, as a teenager, I turned my nose up at this type of music.   It was only during the past few years that I have developed an appreciation for the likes of Floyd, ELP and YES.   As a teen, I was much more interested in whatever "serious" modern classical or jazz I could find at my local library. 

No discussion of this topic would be complete without mention of Frank Zappa.  Although his music is not typically categorized as Prog Rock (my hunch is that his lyrical content causes many Prog Rockers to shy away), he did more than most to truly meld rock, classical, jazz and several other styles.  The original album version of his "Little House I Used to Live in" best exemplifies this.   https://youtu.be/aMTpSz6OVe8    It is music like this that continues to inspire me to compose. 

Hi T.T.,

Zappa is a tough one, I agree with you - because of his lyrics, which are often absurdist, stoner, and sometimes contained social commentary (always with humor). But his music is outstanding at times, he was an excellent guitar player, and I own a number of his albums. I recall that towards the end of his life, he began composing completely synthesized music which was nothing like what he did with the Mothers of Invention. It was all very far out there and really challenged the norms. I listened to the piece you linked to and see the same boundary-pushing I see in others from that era. His albums/CDs/mp3s have never been out of print. Thanks for your comment -

T.T. Gaudynski said:

I agree that there is a world of potential here - particularly for the electric guitar.   How many other instruments can churn out such a wide variety of sounds?  The best of Prog Rock is essentially chamber music played on electric instruments in my opinion.  I have yet to be wowed, however, by hearing a full orchestra attempt to play the music of groups such as Pink Floyd or YES.   They attempt to convey the "bigness" of the music but something gets lost in the translation, and the end result sounds watered down to my ears.   Given a choice between hearing the guitar riff near the beginning of "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" played by solo guitar, or by the London Symphony Orchestra, I'll choose solo guitar (preferably Gilmour's) every time. I suspect that smaller ensembles would be much better able to pull this type of music off.

Regarding Bob's comments about kids' tastes, oddly enough, as a teenager, I turned my nose up at this type of music.   It was only during the past few years that I have developed an appreciation for the likes of Floyd, ELP and YES.   As a teen, I was much more interested in whatever "serious" modern classical or jazz I could find at my local library. 

No discussion of this topic would be complete without mention of Frank Zappa.  Although his music is not typically categorized as Prog Rock (my hunch is that his lyrical content causes many Prog Rockers to shy away), he did more than most to truly meld rock, classical, jazz and several other styles.  The original album version of his "Little House I Used to Live in" best exemplifies this.   https://youtu.be/aMTpSz6OVe8    It is music like this that continues to inspire me to compose. 

"It seems to me that this is where some of the energy lost from traditional classical music went to . . ."

On what basis can anyone say "some of the energy" of traditional classical music was lost?

Are we thinking of all music as a zero sum game?

So if one new type of music is born, or develops, then another type of music must "lose energy?  (As if there is some finite and fixed amount of musical "energy" that exists at one moment in time?)

Could it be that "traditional classical music," and its extensions in modern and contemporary music during the 50's, 60's and 70's ACTUALLY GAINED energy?

And is it possible that progressive rock also created and gained more energy?

So why couldn't all of Rock Music during this era and ALL classical art music have both grown and contributed energy to their respective worlds, and the world of music as a whole?

 

Commenters on this post, please ignore the spam post by Concentric Blue Circles and let us continue with our very interesting discussion. Let's not let this substantial topic be distracted by meaningless side-issues which have nothing to do with what we are talking about

ELO, anyone? lol... ELO and the MOODY blues were my 2 first bands i liked, before 7th grade discovering these? i really didnt go buy cassettes like the other kids did, lol...

early Queensryche? There were even some strange "placements" of pointedly classical influence...

a lot of people today like to go and see "Trans Siberian Orchestra", particularly around christmas? I always like to play "SAVATAGE" (early 80s screamer metal...) and ask them if they would like to go see THIS band?

"no way in &^%% !!!"

then i explain, you ARE going to see them, lol... they turned into Trans siberian...

=============================================

SAVATAGE had a few tracks that were pointedly classical, they did a quick rendition orchestra style of "hall of the mountain king" as an intro to their heavy metal guitar version of the hall of the mountain king... not great, but, not too shabby either...

TNT was another metal band, but had a track called "Klassisk Romance", a beautiful classical guitar ditty.

even Annihilator? had one gorgeous intricate classical guitar intro short song...

=========================================================

Yngwie J Malmsteen is too obvious to even list here, lol...

it was the best kept secret of the heavy metal world? that the "shred gods", many of them were actually serious musicians.

i think, and its just my opinion... when serious musical study is applied to modern genres? you can just HEAR IT in there, theres something... classical going on, you can just hear it.

even LUCIFER by Alan Parsons Project...

Hi SEDstar,

ELO was a great band that incorporated strings in a Beatles-like way (think Eleanor Rigby) to create a rock sound that was a cut above and inched towards a classical sound. I don't know the metal bands you mentioned, but will mention that Black Sabbath (the band that invented Heavy Metal) is quite good artistically. Tony Iommi, the lead guitarist, is one of the most inventive and excellent rock guitarists I am aware of. Fun fact about ELO: they were revived out of the ashes of the 60s band "The Move," a mediocre blues-rock outfit. In general so far in this conversation, we see many people, who are presumably on this board primarily for its classical bent, expressing a love of and appreciation for the musicianship and musicality of the better rock bands. I hope it continues



SEDstar said:

ELO, anyone? lol... ELO and the MOODY blues were my 2 first bands i liked, before 7th grade discovering these? i really didnt go buy cassettes like the other kids did, lol...

early Queensryche? There were even some strange "placements" of pointedly classical influence...

a lot of people today like to go and see "Trans Siberian Orchestra", particularly around christmas? I always like to play "SAVATAGE" (early 80s screamer metal...) and ask them if they would like to go see THIS band?

"no way in &^%% !!!"

then i explain, you ARE going to see them, lol... they turned into Trans siberian...

=============================================

SAVATAGE had a few tracks that were pointedly classical, they did a quick rendition orchestra style of "hall of the mountain king" as an intro to their heavy metal guitar version of the hall of the mountain king... not great, but, not too shabby either...

TNT was another metal band, but had a track called "Klassisk Romance", a beautiful classical guitar ditty.

even Annihilator? had one gorgeous intricate classical guitar intro short song...

=========================================================

Yngwie J Malmsteen is too obvious to even list here, lol...

it was the best kept secret of the heavy metal world? that the "shred gods", many of them were actually serious musicians.

i think, and its just my opinion... when serious musical study is applied to modern genres? you can just HEAR IT in there, theres something... classical going on, you can just hear it.

even LUCIFER by Alan Parsons Project...

Does anyone know who composed the first 'concept' album?

And who may have coined the term?

i.e. The Who   with Tommy  

Can you name some others that fit the category?

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