Music Composers Unite!
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 >
And here is another one by the great Bruford band, featuring some lead xylophone in a time chang-ey melody that is so dizzyingly fast that I cannot keep up. From a different album than the first piece I posted by this band. Some great bass and guitar solos: "If you can't stand the heat" https://youtu.be/79Jx6rhIuEc
Coming back to a reference I made earlier that there is some wonderful female singing in the work "Tenemos Roads" by the British prog-rock group "National Health," here is an example of that towards the end of the song - a very dreamy, short passage that leads wonderfully into the end of the piece https://youtu.be/vj9ZUHju7JE?t=11m31s. If this Youtube link does not focus on the moment I mention, go to 11:31 or so to hear it
Gav Brown said:
National Health (strangely, named after the British Healthcare system) is a progressive rock band from the 70s I bet you never heard of. Their music is considered to be in the "Canterbury" style of prog-rock, meaning it has a distinct quality of being British, and has a medieval-like quality to it - artists harkening back to the folk music of their country, like Bela Bartok and many other great composers did (Aaron Copeland for example). They were only around for a few years and had not much success commercially, but their music is clearly about striving for greatness - that is to say, to be beautiful, relevant, and new. I am familiar with their entire oeuvre and think this is their best work, "Tenemos Roads" - you will hear the "Canterbury" right from the beginning -
I'll take a listen.
Thanks for posting this.
Continuing in this very interesting thread, here is another piece I feel worthy of noting as an example of how Rock n Roll has made serious contributions to music, by the Alan Parsons Project, “Nucleus.” It is essentially a sound collage, alternating two gorgeous chord sounds with background psychedelic sounds and some interesting soft percussion. No melody. At around 3:30 another song kicks in which I don’t find nearly as compelling. But Nucleus I find beautiful -
I really respect RUSH. I have 20 of their albums and am really enjoying listening to the albums "Counterparts" and "Clockwork Angels."
I have listened to "Permanent Waves" a few times over the years.
Neil Pert is a well regarded drummer and Geddy Lee is one of the greatest electric bass players in that Genre.
If nobody has mentioned them what about SKY? Surely that was prog rock and classical fusion. They took classical music from Handel, dance of the fairies and so on and did them as prog rock. Immense amount of skill involved. Herbie Flowers and SKY deserved more credit than what they got.
For me SKY and Jethro Tull [medieval period] were the stand outs for taking classical music and putting it into prog rock. Jethro Tull were very interesting in that they also took the grammar of Andrew Marvell and the natural British poets of a few 100 years ago and used it. For instance there is a line "a wheel of oaken woods" and that is just how Marvell, Crabbe et all would have written it.