Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages
Senses of Prog

"What is Progressive Rock and Progressive music in general?"

"How can Progressive Rock music be interesting?"

"Which tends are usually distinguished within Progressive Rock, who is the brightest representative of each trend?"

"Who's stood at the origin of Progressive Rock, and what event can be seen as the birth of the trend?"

"Which stages did Progressive Rock go through in its evolution, and were there crucial turning points?"

"What is the current position of Progressive Rock?"

"What does the term "structures" mean that is often found in the articles?"

"Where else we get information on Progressive Rock?"

"Is there a prefered sequence, in the author's view, of reading the articles of the Encyclopaedia and the other materials published on the site?"

"To sum up: what is Progressive Rock?"

"What progressive rock exactly is?"

I. "What is Progressive Rock and Progressive music in general?"

Obviously, the term "progressiveness" does not have to do in reality with once well-known, still-born projects like "Rock for Peace" and so on. The aspect of progressiveness in music does not deal with politics in any way. Music, this harmonies of sounds, that somehow makes our souls tremble, is the most remote art from all earthy grades and projections. It's a completely separate world, where gradations and comparisons make sense only inside of it.

In this sense "progressiveness" applies to music directly: progress as opposed to stagnation, it's a movement forward development, the capacity to think, the absence of repetitiveness. Departing from the last notion, the least inclined to repetitiveness is Classical music, including the modern forms, whereas the other extreme represents the most primitive forms of Pop music. Taken generally, Rock music is situated in the middle, and not only conditionally. The fact that modern Rock includes modern Classics is questioned only by few, fortunately, as well as the fact that most such works refer to Progressive or Protoprogressive Rock.

The yearning for growth, for the elaboration of own forms - these phenomena of evolution and progress of the life on Earth hame the same bearing on the music structures. The more different flowers there are in a given garden, the more beautyful it is for any visitor, the longer one can enjoy always new buildings, smells and shades of color. Progressive Rock is distinguished from other works by a great member of the musical smells and shades, that are expressed by the richness, depth and variety of arrangements. Of course, the authentic musical findings in terms of Rock music have been occuring particurlarly on the edge of Progressive Rock. And findings and progress are indivisible terms. content

II. "How can Progressive Rock music be interesting?"

Is there any doubt, that virtually every person is in essence a lover of music to a certain degree? There is hardly anyone who doesn't listen to music at least on the radio. However, in regard to Progressive Rock things aren't that simple. The narrow-minded really lesten neither to Prog nor to Classics - only a rude (often with prison themes) primitive. The axiom runs: to listen to and love clever things one has to have intelligence. But, the camp of intellectuals as far as music is concerned is far from being homogenious. Many gifted individuals, developped spiritually and universally, would rather pick good Pop music than complex works. Sadly, the prestigeous "Grammy" has been given for many years exclusively to Pop performers with the quality of music, nominated for music prizes, getting worse each year. The very handicap of Grammy, with the categories "Pop", "Dance", and "Blues", in which are passed sincere dancing bands, but where every hint at Progressive section is absent, tells us what the decent, in general, public loves and listens. Until recently there was the ample category "Rock-Pop-Dance" (by the way, it's still practiced in the catalog of the biggest chain of shops of musical production in Russia, named "The Purple Legion", as if it's one and the same thing, while separatly divided are only "Jazz", "Classical music", and "New Age"(?!)). Then they were unwillingly divided, and only after the scandal with Jethro Tull and Metallica in 1989, when in the "indivisible" category "Rock" the upper hand was gained by Jethro Tull having outdone the modern "metallists" by a small margin, "Grammy" introduced two Rock lines: Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. Proceeding from the facts, apparently the niche of "Progressists", whether it be love for Classic or "serious" Rock, is made up of the individuals inclined psychologically and from the birth on to this particular music. Then the question "How can Progressive Rock be interesting" doesn't make sense in regard to all intellectuals. It's clear, that it can interest only those inclined, capable to desire own images, pictures, etc. from the music listened to at the moment nowish their mood.

The question acquires another connotation when faced by the fact that many individuals don't know about Progressive music for different reasons, or rather, they don't know that this music can find a powerful response in their souls, that sometimes helps so much see life from another angle, rejoice suddenly from a beloved theme, and do something good and pure with this background. No hidding. Especially, it has to do with regions that are far from big cultural centres, an example is Moscow with its blessed "Gorbushka". In the likewise situation a mere absence of information can be the reason for the lack of a strong diverting hobby, which is not seldom a necessary psychological niche in the hectic everyday life. Then the importance of Progressiveness growth, which can be seen especially in the West, where Internet is available now to almost everyone. And the abruptly increased interest in Progressive Rock (we'll look at this later) owes to this very mobile system of communication. content

III. "Which tends are usually distinguished within Progressive Rock, who is the brightest representative of each trend?"

Fortunately, the musical media focused on Progressive Rock, for instance, the magazines "Exposure", (even) "Metal Hammer", the others, Prog-servers in USA, UK, Holland, Italy, France, etc. in the Internet, are much more up-to-date than the slow monsters like "Billboard", "Rolling Stone", and the mentioned "Grammy". In the West they react pretty fast at the appearance of some new subdivisions of ProgRock. So, why can't, for example, Doom-Metal be progressive in its way? Already in 1996 I compared in my second book the latest albums of Therion and Tiamat (among the others) with Neo-(Metal)-Progressive, but my Russian colleagues gave me a sharp criticizm for my ascribing of these "Death" bands, that are long dead by the way, in accordance with its name, to "our" kind of Rock music. However, a lot of Western Prog-servers did the same in 1997, that is, they classified Tiamat (apart from Mekong Delta) to the camp of Progrockers.

Talking about the trends within Progressive Rock, our classification (I mean the former USSR) differ significantly from their Western counterparts. For example, such classical deeds as Genesis, Yes, Van Der Graaf, King Crimson, Pink Floyd we generally call by the term "Art Rock", which is in my view (Art!) quite fair. While the Western musical experts ascribe for some reasons, in general, glam, proto-Prog bands, that are bright, accessible, melodic, but superficial. In addition they have the subdivisions of Progressive Rock roughly three times as many as we do. In brief, the view the Western classification of ProgRock genres as rather clumsy and questionable.

In my first book (1991), as well as in the second, on Progressive and proto-Progressive Rock I employed six genres: Art(Symphonic)-Rock, Prog-Metal, Jazz-Fusion, Hard'n'Heavy, Doom, and Thrash. As I see it, a beginning musical fan may find it hard to perceive the depth and power of the classics of Art-Rock, Jazz-Fusion, and even Prog-Metal. So, I decided to use the proto-Progressive genres and their best representatives as "stages" to understanding a more complex music. The readers feedback has shown that it was a good decision, and a lot of lovers of complex Progressive Rock did start from Hard'n'Heavy, Doom, or Thrash. The book I'm working on at the moment, however, will deal only with the Progressive genres of Rock music: Art-Rock, Prog-Metal (including the best Hard'n'Heavy, Doom, and Thrash "acts" like Deep Purple, Tiamat, Iced Earth, etc.), and Jazz-Fusion, and is designed now for advanced music fans. And, in my opinion, these three genres determine what Progressive Rock is all about. content

IV. "Who's stood at the origin of Progressive Rock, and what event can be seen as the birth of the trend?"

In the book of 1996 I called the first Progressive Rock album the debut of Pink Floyd "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn", that came out in 1967 (though, the first proto-Prog album, in my opinion, was the "Sgt. Pepper and the Lonely Hearts Club Band" written in the autumn of 1966 by The Beatles). In 1997 there was a number of actions and festivals in the West to celebrate 30 years of Progressive Rock "1967-1997". In any case, these days virtually everybody have the opinion that it was Pink Floyd, who stood at the origin of Progressive Rock and the cornerstone event is the appearance of their first disc. content

V. "Which stages did Progressive Rock go through in its evolution, and were there crucial turning points?"

The history of Progressive Rock contains a lot more sad events than any other trend of Rock music. In the beginning there was a powerful rise, development and world recognition. In the wake of Pink Floyd two years later a complete legion of original and strong bands continued the good cause, and if 1967 is considered the year of birth, 1969 can be gustly called the year of development. About the same time the bands came into being that are now regarded as the classic of the genre: King Crimson, Van Der Graaf, Genesis, Yes, Jethro Tull, ELP, Gentle Giant, and Colosseum. The banner of Doom-Metal, later transformed into Progressive Metal, was held high by Black Sabbath. Almost each album, made in the beginning of 70s by great Hard'n'Heavy bands Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Wishbone Ash, contains several really Progressive compositions, as well as a unique Rock-Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice "Jesus Christ Superstar".

Right after the first wave of (classic!) Progressive Rock in 1972-1973 there rose the second - Gong, Eloy, Camel, Kansas, Ruch, and in 1974-1975 Progressive Rock reached its quantitative and, which is more important, qualitative peak. Then there was Disco (a very good Disco, I must admit from the viewpoint of today), New Wave, and the most unpleasant of mass culture things at the time - Punk. The new forms of Rock music, being very accessible and bright, turned into milk cows for record companies, which resulted partly in bancrupsy of even large progressive labels "Charisma", "Transatlantic", and many more. To survive in the time of expansion of the new commercial trends, the Titans had to rebuild themselves in the direction of more accessible forms (Yes, Genesis, Jethro Tull,...), while some others (Gentle Giant, Gryphon,...) just went extinct, and among them there were real masterpieces, hidden from us until recently (Henry Cow, Slapp Happy, Druid, However, Mirthrandir,...).

The third wave of Progressive Rock brought about the brilliant albums "Never Say Die" (by Black Sabbath, 1978, Prog-Metal), "UK" (1978, Jazz-Fusion) and "Danger Money" (1979, Art-Rock, both by UK), among the others (including highly obscure "Black Noise" by FM, 1977). In the 80s, with a rare exception, the supply of already scarce rows of Prog-rockers virtually came to a half, and although the movement was alive on the whole, the veto put by the major companies on Progressive bands ended up in a situation, where Progressive Rock became no more than underground music. Those appearing projects, basically at the cost of the musicians, a good example is IQ band, would still be in oblivion, if it weren't for the new impressive interest for this music in the middle 90s. It's not an exaggeration to say that today Progressive Rock naturally experiences its second birth, and the appearance of a great number of progressive oriented bands, among which we have real Giants, tunes us for an optimistic mood. content

VI. "What is the current position of Progressive Rock?"

The appearance of a magnificent novelty - the CD - couldn't help but affect progressive works of the 70s and 80s, including many rarities. The position of Progressive Rock these days is much more stable than even five years ago - all because of the new wave of interest to this music. Now there exists a powerful progressive movement (the fact little known here, in the ex-USSR), the number of the bands restorating the splendour of the genre reaches dozens, Progressive independent companies, do well, examples are "Musea" (France), "Cyclops" (UK), "Cuneiform", "Kinesis", "Syn-Phonic" (all - USA). Their confident position is explained not only by reissue of unknown, obscure works of the past, but also by an impressive set of modern actively working bands. A lot of Prog-festivals are held, they devise their own nominations. And although the progressive movement within Rock music doesn't enjoy a wide recognition yet, its extremely fruitful activity gives us good hopes for the future. content

VII. "What does the term 'structures' mean that is often found in the articles?"

This term is used often in the music press, including Western, in regard to a performer, and means the basic themes of a work, on those basis, according to Harmony, improvisations or arrangements are created and developped. Therefore, structures are the basic frame of a composition. For example, most Hard-rock groups, particularly those without keyboards, are supported almost only by structures. As a rule, the picture of the instrumental basis is made of pretty monotonous, repetitive riffs-refrains of the electric guitar and often in unison with the bass. Progressive bands, on the other hand, incessantly change their basic themes with the help of the rhythm-section, but what's more important, on this field there are recourseful solo-guitar, keyboards, violins, etc. Each instrument performs its own, as opposed to the basic and the other "parallel" instruments, arrangement. And than more "voices" in an arrangement (often so-called harmonious intervals - quarta, quinta - are employed), the richer, the more varigated, and of course, the more complex for comprehension the work is.

A good number of up-to-date Prog-bands take advantage of the structures conceived by the Titans as early as in the beginning of the '70s. The best of today's performers, leaning over the legacy of the past, use the tried-and-true basis, though bodied by their own original arrangements, which results in an overall original "face", an independent mind. Also there are direct imitators, that copy not only the structures of the legendary bands, but also the arrangement pattern, often in its primitive form. content

VIII. "Where else we get information on Progressive Rock?"

As far as I know, in the CIS (ex-USSR) there never appered special information on Progressive Rock, other than "The Encyclopaedia of Progressive and Protoprogressive Rock" (note: in the Russian part of the site). From all the sources the leading position is won by the Internet, but we have a long way to go till the Internet becomes commonplace here. content

IX. "Is there a prefered sequence, in the author's view, of reading the articles of the Encyclopaedia and the other materials published on the site?"

No, all the articles, reviews, etc. are designed both for young, uninitiated music fans, on the understanding that they may grow further towards more serious structures, and for the experienced lovers of Progressive Rock. These latter shouldn't feel the need, clearly, to take a look at the materials on Grey Lady Down, Jadis, Arena, etc., since they have long been outside their sphere of interest. content

X. "To sum up: what is Progressive Rock?"

The best Rock music ever created. A Classic for the Future. content

XI. "What progressive rock exactly is?"

Well, I see. Day by day, year by year the question "What is Progressive Rock?" remains still on the agenda in virtuality and on the pages of magazines made-of-paper, as well as our life (is exactly made from). And our made-of-paper life is as virtual as our Progressive pages on the Web are. "What is Progressive Rock ?" or "What is our life?" seem to be the same Eternal Questions, ah? But if I for one know surely that Progressive Rock is no more than just our psychological niche in our (at least earthly) life, I don't know at all if our earthly life is a niche in eternity or something to that effect. That's a true question! content

VM (Vitaly Menshikov): October 2000