Progressive rock

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A collage of famous progressive rock album covers.

Progressive rock, often shortened to prog rock, is a musical genre that formed in the mid to late-1960s in the UK and USA. The genre is primarily based on rock, but, as the name suggests, progresses further by fusing in other genres like jazz, psychedelic, classical, and folk as well as introducing instruments that are not common in traditional rock like electronic synthesizers and world folk instruments. For progressive rock bands, the goal was often to make their music artistic, deeper, and more culturally significant than typical pop rock, so many progressive rock songs feature unusual time signatures and tunings and include themes about mythology, politics, and human psychology. Prog rock artists frequently ignored the short song demands of radio play and produced much longer epic songs. Because of this, the music is not as easily digestible as pop music and is more of an acquired taste, however, several bands still saw commercial success. Some early pioneers of the genre include bands like Emerson, Lake & Palmer, King Crimson, and Yes.

Progressive rock achieved peak popularity in the early to mid-1970s, but a limited number of prog rock bands continue to form even to this day. The genre's legacy is its strong influence on other musical genres. Some bands took limited elements of prog rock and stayed mainly in the pop rock mode performing arena rock and symphonic rock. Those artists that got deeper into the mythology and occult influences formed occult rock and new-age music. Others embraced the electronic elements and went on to form new wave and Krautrock. Those bands that embraced the experimentalism aspects founded post-rock and experimental rock.


I started becoming interested in progressive rock, long before I knew the term, in my mid-teens. Radio play of Rush, The Moody Blues, and Pink Floyd helped me appreciate the more complex song structures and themes, but what really cemented my interest in the genre was my obsession with Queen whose first few albums are prog rock. I really appreciate the concept of the genre — dabbling with other styles, instruments, and themes to prevent rock from becoming stale — but I still have a hard time appreciating progressive rock when I'm introduced to new songs, which explains why I list so few bands below. Because prog rock takes time to really acquaint yourself with the music, and I generally don't have that much patience, I often abandon prog rock artists that are new to me before I can properly appreciate them.


These are progressive rock bands and artists that are important to me.



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