Mark S. Tucker demonstrates impressive wordsmith skills and a deep knowledge of music. Here are some excerpts from part 1 of his essays on Progressive Rock / Progressive Thought from OpEdNew.com.
What The Hell is Progrock?
…progressive musics are not dead, have been fermenting for quite some time, and have spawned a rich bedrock of hidden vastness and complexity, a milieu that could very easily provide the much-needed exit from a mainstream morass currently stifling sonic art and intellectual thought. Moreover, a section of the progressive canon is actually an unrecognized realm of the classicalist purview: neoclassical music.
With the Moody Blues’ Days of Future Passed, the progressive rock genre was born as ‘art rock’, a lofty title meant to infer that other musics weren’t really art when compared to practitioners in such rarefied pastures as theirs. That arrogance was a typical promo department ploy, one which critics fell tellingly uncritically into and stuck with from the moment the regrettable notice was set down in print. From there, ‘symphonic rock’ and ‘progressive rock’ followed. Of the three, ‘symphonic rock’ was the only non-judgmental byline but was also insufficient to cover what would follow, hence ‘progressive rock’, aka ‘progrock’, aka ‘prog’, became the label of choice. It remains so to this day.
‘Progressive rock’ was coined to refer to a movement that first stuck somewhat to a fairly recognizable playing field, a canvas carrying vaguely defined perimeters, then did nothing but grow, immediately escaping any hope of easy statutory delineation.
The most interesting mutation was the psychedelic movement. It’s origins lay in the desire to portray in music what was experienced in a drug state: distorted, strange, elastic, emotionally exaggerated phenomena full of weird events, sounds, and feelings. Les Paul, once he’d electrified the guitar, had no least clue what he was really unleashing.