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Progressive Rock

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Secondary Stylistic Influences:

"I went to do an interview once and somebody said 'We think all the stuff you do is pompous, it's overblown, it's just full of unbelievably fast runs' and I went 'Yeah, that's right! It's good, innit?'"
Rick Wakeman, Rock Family Trees: The Prog Rock Years

A subset of rock music noteworthy for its intricate arrangements and experimental sound. Originating in the late 1960s, "Prog Rock" often combines stylistic elements from Classical, Jazz, Folk or sometimes electronic instruments such as synthesizers, uses non-standard song structures (including complex rhythms and time signatures) and complex instrumental orchestrations, lengthy songs and extended solos, and frequently employ poetic, literate lyrics which are abstract or fantasy-based. As well, unlike popular mainstream rock bands, which focused on live stage shows for audiences that were dancing, prog bands focused on doing complex art music-style arrangements in the studio that were intended to be listened to carefully.

According to Prog Archives, there are 20 different subgenres in Progressive Rock:

Wikipedia defines an additional subgenre that does not have a page on Prog Archives, Progressive Soul. This is also Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a crossover between soul and progressive rock, often incorporating influence from jazz and Rhythm and Blues as well. Well-known examples include Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, Sly and the Family Stone, Parliament Funkadelic, Earth, Wind & Fire, Isaac Hayes, Prince, Peter Gabriel, Sade, and Janelle Monįe.

In the early days of the movement — i.e. The '60s — "underground" was the common name for this genre of this music. This is at least in part because it was largely heard at college and community FM stations in the U.S., and on the left-hand (non-commercial) side of the dial at that, in contrast to what some regarded as overly-commercialized pop still heard on stations all along the AM dial. But "underground" as a term came under fire from Moral Guardians who condemned its connections to drugs, sex and revolution. By 1980, the Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll was referring to it as "art rock," and still later "progressive" replaced that, reflecting the creators' feeling that their music was constantly evolving. "Art rock" has since become a term for rock music that mixes in elements of high art without outright veering into progressive territory, being closest to "prog related" when using the list above.

The original idea was to bring some of the sophistication of "legitimate" musical styles to rock, which was still widely regarded as disposable pop. The emergence of the LP as the primary format for rock music in the second half of the '60s allowed artists to experiment with longer songs that wouldn't fit on a 3-minute single. Precursors included the works of Frank Zappa (with and without the Mothers of Invention), especially 1967's Absolutely Free, which consisted of two side-long suites borrowing liberally from classical music (especially the works of Igor Stravinsky) and including a mini-Rock Opera, "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" (described as a "condensed two-hour musical"), The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, whose (loose) concept influenced many bands, The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and "Good Vibrations", whose complicated and unorthodox arrangements and creative, eclectic instrumentation influenced a wide variety of bands, The Moody Blues' Days of Future Passed, whose use of an orchestra would influence many other bands to do the same, and Deep Purple's Concerto for Group and Orchestra, another early case of a rock band collaborating with an orchestra. The Who's "A Quick One, While He's Away," from the album of the same name, "Rael" from The Who Sell Out, and Tommy codified the Rock Opera. But the unquestioned Trope Codifier was King Crimson, whose 1969 début album In the Court of the Crimson King proved to be both commercially successful and influential on the genre. FM radio stations willing to play these longer tracks popped up across the U.S. at the same time due to new regulations forbidding AM stations from simulcasting on FM. These rock stations relied on album tracks to fill airtime.

Classically-trained musicians such as Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman started to be drawn to rock, and they brought their repertoire with them. (An early influencer was Doug Ingle of Iron Butterfly, who'd put his classical/church organ background to work on "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida".) This is where Prog gets its modern image of classically-influenced songs with many extended solos. At the same time, new electronic keyboards like the Minimoog, the Mellotron and the Fender Rhodes electric piano expanded the sound palette of popular music, and these prog keyboardists took full advantage of the new technology.

The massive sales of rock records in the '60s and '70s allowed labels to take chances on more experimental acts, and many artists in all genres felt the urge to take artistic risks. Like its major influences, jazz and classical, progressive rock leaned toward audiophilia. As rock fans came of age and joined the workforce when they could still find well-paying jobs even straight out of high school, they were willing to spend money on expensive stereo equipment to enhance their enjoyment of this music, so the environment was ripe for the growth of progressive rock.

More broadly, Prog or Art Rock was used to refer to any attempt to elevate rock from its lowbrow image. This could include pop music with experimental elements (10cc and Roxy Music), and bands that used orchestral instruments (Electric Light Orchestra). Some bands fused with other styles: Jethro Tull were based on folk music, Be-Bop Deluxe had glam elements to their sound, and the Canterbury bands leaned toward modern jazz. The most commercially successful progressive rock band was Pink Floyd, whose 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon famously has spent more than over 30 years on the charts and has sold tens of millions of copies, holding the rather impressive distinction of being the third bestselling studio album in history and the fourth bestselling album overall.

Prog was largely a European phenomenon, although Kansas and Rush were significant examples from America and Canada, respectively. Most of the major bands were from the United Kingdom, although there were several important acts in the genre that came from Germany (the Krautrock scene, and particularly Can, Neu! and Amon Düül II), Greece (Aphrodite's Child, whose keyboardist Vangelis later had a successful solo career), France (Magma, the creators of the Zeuhl subgenre, and Gong), and Italy (The Progressivo Italiano scene, which featured bands like Premiata Forneria Marconi). Jazz Fusion can be seen as a primarily American counterpart to progressive rock, and many of the big names of that genre like Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever weren't too far off sonically from prog bands of the day.

Critics usually dismissed these bands as being "pretentious" (for a long time, Pink Floyd and King Crimson were the only progressive rock bands many rock critics would admit to liking, although the former received their fair share of critical drubbings at the time). Some people just want to have a good time, and prog bands sometimes took themselves far too seriously. Perhaps the most notorious offender was Yes' Tales from Topographic Oceans album: it was seen by many as a clear drop in quality from their previous efforts. By stretching a total of four songs over two LPs, even most progressive rock listeners found it to be an exhausting experience to listen to. The economic malaise that set in later in the '70s made prog rock, with its idealism and fantasy-derived lyrics, look out of touch and elitist. In the U.S., FM stations that had been prog rock's bread and butter were transitioning from freeform to tightly-formatted "album-oriented rock" stations, and had even less patience for experimental music, preferring straight-ahead hard rock from bands like Bad Company and Foreigner, though prog acts with harder elements like Pink Floyd and Rush did very well on the format.

The rise and fall of progressive rock parallels the New Hollywood movement in film: ambitious creators using their newfound creative freedom at the start of the '70s to create enduring masterpieces before collapsing under the weight of their own pretensions by the end of the decade. The closest thing the genre has to Heaven's Gate is the infamous Emerson, Lake & Palmer album, Love Beach, which was only made because the band owed their label another album.

The rise of New Wave and Punk Rock as the new truly "underground" genres was in large part a reaction to the genre; ironically, it was mostly exhausted by The '80s anyway, with some of the genre's biggest names including Yes, Genesis, and Rush shifting toward a more radio-friendly sound and making music videos in the late '70s and especially The '80s, to great commercial success. King Crimson, who had broken up in 1974, reunited in 1981 with a new lineup and a new sound that took much greater influence from the artsier New Wave bands than from classic prog, incidentally becoming the de-facto starting point for the "post-progressive" movement. Be-Bop Deluxe leader Bill Nelson, meanwhile, broke up his band to embark on a quirky new wave/art rock solo career. The 1982 debut album of the prog supergroup Asia had radio-ready singles that were huge hits, but was considered the final nail in the coffin for the genre from a critical standpoint.

Still other prog bands like Emerson, Lake & Palmer, 10cc and Jethro Tull either disbanded or saw their popularity wane considerably. Pink Floyd was an exception as they continued to sell millions of records and sell out arenas/stadiums while keeping their sound intact, although even they weren't afraid to embrace MTV and all the new recording tech that developed throughout the decade. It didn't hurt that the band had already developed a distinctive visual identity through its Hipgnosis covers and live shows. Likewise, former Genesis leader Peter Gabriel kept his prog sensibilities even as he became a solo superstar, blending the style with other genres like new wave, funk and worldbeat. Some of the big groups that went pop also carried over some of their progressive rock stylings over to their hits, and still utilized complex chord progressions, unusual time signatures, and recorded longer and more complicated songs for their albums. Genesis, for instance, had a hit with "Turn It On Again", performed in the rare time signature of 13/8, while the full-length album version of another hit, "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight", is nearly nine minutes long.

While the titular band wasn't a prog rock band, This is Spın̈al Tap mocked many of prog's tropes, including overlong improvisations, concert theatrics that failed more often than not, half-baked fantasy lyrics and classical influences, which showed how far the genre had fallen by the start of the 1980s.

At the same time, the audio market was moving away from component stereo systems toward smaller, cheaper, and more portable devices like boomboxes and personal stereos, and thus was drifting away from the audiophilia that had been prog's bread and butter.

There was a sub genre that came in the mid-80s called neo-prog, which was basically bands trying to emulate the '70s progressive rock sound with '80s production and a few power ballads here and there. Marillion were commercially successful in Europe, even scoring several hit singles in the UK, but they were the only neo-prog band to gain that much popularity. In North America, the Canadian band Saga also had some success with their sound that mixed classic prog with new wave in a similar manner to what the British neo-prog bands were doing. Despite prog rock's lack of popularity in the 1980s, its influence could be heard in the music of artists from other genres, such as Kate Bush, Cardiacs, Talking Heads, Talk Talk, Tears for Fears, and David Sylvian. Ironically, Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon was a fan of prog rock, which his band supposedly helped make irrelevant, and the genre was a major influence on his next band Public Image Ltd.. (Fellow PiL member Keith Levene had also been a roadie for Yes.) On that note, the Post-Punk movement was very much influenced by progressive rock, especially Krautrock, and can be viewed as a reconstruction of complex, experimental music that ended up having lasting effects on the music landscape decades down the road.

The end of prog rock's mainstream popularity also gave birth to a second offshoot genre: post-progressive, which sought to create a new brand of progressive rock from newer influences outside of those that classic prog derived itself from. As previously mentioned, King Crimson served as the arguable trope makers for post-progressive with their 1980s output, which combined the basic prog ethos with the sound and stylings of New Wave Music and worldbeat, though some would be willing to argue that Peter Gabriel's Scratch and Melt, Talking Heads' Remain in Light and even the entire Post-Punk movement serve as earlier starting points. Post-progressive bands also tended to draw more from the Krautrock side of the tree than the English branch, and thus were often Darker and Edgier compared to the classic bands in the genre. In particular, music analyst Bill Martin singled out Talking Heads as examples of post-prog before King Crimson's reformation, writing that "a good deal of the more interesting rock since that time is clearly 'post-Talking Heads' music, but that means it is post-progressive rock as well." Post-Rock and more generally experimental art rock and Alternative Rock artists are also frequently described as examples of post-progressive music, with Talk Talk and Radiohead often being described by analysts as modern-day examples of post-classical prog.

Officially, post-progressive bands were only classified in this genre in hindsight, usually lumped into New Wave Music, Post-Punk, Alternative Rock, Post-Rock, or Electronic Music depending on the time period. In this sense, one could consider post-progressive to be less of a concrete genre and more an umbrella category for general spiritual successors to progressive rock that don't directly copy the classic sound. Post-progressive thus might be truer to the original scene's intentions than neo-prog.

The introduction of the Compact Disc format, with its digital clarity, longer running time, and complete lack of surface noise, spurred a trend in record production toward more lush production from artists like Talk Talk, Tears for Fears, and Dire Straits, in turn contributing to the mainstream rise of Alternative Rock and eventual interplay between the two genres. The popularity of the back catalogs of major prog artists like Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and Pink Floyd on CD, along with the aformentioned neo-prog movement, showed that there was still an appetite for the genre among the music-buying public.

Prog rock began to re-establish itself in the early '90s. The band leading that resurgence was Queensr˙che, an American group who were one of the pioneers of the Progressive Metal style and were best known for their concept albums like Operation: Mindcrime, which was a surprise best-seller in an era where metal bands that were much poppier and glammier than them ruled the airwaves. While Queensrÿche ultimately faded from mainstream popularity by the mid-90s, a full-on prog revival was in swing by then, with Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, tool, Spock's Beard, and Radiohead finding success with music rooted in classic prog rock filtered through alt-rock or metal sensibilities. Phish are best known as a psychedelic jam band, but their sound in the late '80s and early '90s was strongly influenced by British prog bands.

At the same time, the classic bands that "went pop" in the '80s also started to return to what made them famous initially. Yes reunited with the classic "Anderson, Howe, Squire, Wakeman, and White" lineup. Genesis tried to go back to a more complex sound on the Phil Collins-less Calling All Stations and failed miserably. Pink Floyd reinstated Richard Wright as a full band member and the subsequent album, The Division Bell, was hailed as a return to form. Many more bands went back to the longer songs, Epic Rocking, and weird lyrics. Even bands that were associated with the concurrent Britpop scene, such as Mansun, Oceansize, Dawn of the Replicants, and Ultrasound drew heavy influence from prog.

Progressive rock continued to have a following well into the 2000s and 2010s, with bands like The Mars Volta, Muse, Coheed and Cambria, Mew and Umphrey's McGee all achieving some form of success in those decades. Porcupine Tree leader Steven Wilson also established himself as both a popular solo artist and as the go-to producer for many classic prog bands looking to remaster their back catalogs. The 2010s also saw the evolution of post-progressive rock into a more cohesive "scene" with stronger Alternative Rock and Post-Rock influences, led by mostly British artists such as Anathema, The Pineapple Thief and, of course, Steven Wilson. This can be largely attributed to the success of Porcupine Tree and the expansion of the Kscope record label — it can be argued that both have become synonymous with modern progressive rock. On the heavier end, the 2010s also saw the rise of acts like Haken, Caligula's Horse, Leprous, Rivers of Nihil, and Oceans of Slumber, as well as the continued major success of Between the Buried and Me, Fates Warning, Riverside, and Ihsahn's solo career. Much of this can be credited to the rise of InsideOut Music, which gradually worked its way up from a boutique label in the mid-1990s to being big enough to sign Kansas, Jethro Tull, and Dream Theater, and is generally accepted as the modern prog tastemaker label.

Prog rock was one of the originators, and certainly one of the main motivators, of the Concept Album.

See also Progressive Metal for when prog gets heavy, and Technical Death Metal for when prog gets even heavier. Krautrock is a somewhat more Teutonic variant, which is sometimes considered a subgenre of progressive rock and sometimes its own (albeit related) genre. Also compare Baroque Pop, which has been described as being to pop music what prog is to rock. The genre influenced the development of various forms of Alternative Rock, especially Post-Rock and Math Rock, which are sometimes regarded as modern-day successors to progressive rock. (When alternative rock surfaced on College Radio in the '80s, one of the terms used to describe the music was "progressive," out of the shared roots of both genres on non-commercial stations.) Prog has also had an influence on Electronic Music and Ambient music, and it has had a parallel evolution with Space Rock and Psychedelic Rock, to the point where the boundaries between them are frequently quite nebulous.

Progressive rock's attempts to elevate the level of artistry in popular music and promote musicians as "auteurs" had a lot in common with the "poptimist" school of music criticism that emerged in the 2000s. The genre would open rock to new influences, and the best albums of the era remain beloved rock classics.

Notable Progressive Rock acts include and are labeled with their respective sub-genre according to the ProgArchives, as well as prog albums with their own pages:

Tropes frequently associated with progressive rock include:

  • Artifact Title: One explanation for the genre's name is that it came from the "progressive" FM radio stations it was played on in the U.S. These were so-called because the DJs would, between playing the bands' latest magna opera, spend almost as much time as the songs themselves took to play discussing politics from a progressive (i.e., very leftish) perspective. The name for the subgenre has remained even as the stations became increasingly all about the music and left the politics behind, and even as FM radio of the early 1970s evolved into today's Classic Rock format. This explanation, however, is disputed; another holds that the progressive rock genre and the progressive rock radio format got their names separately, and that the genre was named because it was perceived to be "progressing" rock music. In this explanation the genre got its name from "progressive pop", which was used at the time to describe what today is generally known as Baroque Pop, and it later became a synonym for rock music in general.
  • Artistic Stimulation: Coming out of Psychedelic Rock, LSD and marijuana were popular among musicians and fans of the genre.
  • Auteur License: During the heyday of prog in the early '70s, labels gave artists an amount of artistic freedom that they haven't had since.
  • Bookends: If you're listening to a concept album, odds are at least fifty-fifty that it's going to feature at least one example of this trope. Even if it's not a concept album, the trope may show up anyway.
  • British Rockstar: Most of the bands hailed from the U.K. and helped form the stereotype of British rock stars as drug-addled cloudcuckoolanders. The genre was so popular in the U.K. for awhile that even artists not commonly associated with prog sometimes recorded songs in the style; for example, Led Zeppelin's "Achilles Last Stand" (from Presence) is often considered a progressive rock song, while Elton John recorded "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" and much of Madman Across the Water in the style.
  • Classical Music Is Cool: Prog musicians seem to adopt this as an ethos, given that many of them have classical backgrounds and work in references to classical music in their repertoire.
  • Concept Album: Developed somewhat in tandem with prog rock. The Mothers of Invention, Frank Zappa's band, were responsible for many of rock's early concept albums.
  • Conlang: Practically de rigeur in zeuhl. Examples include Magma, Ruins, and Koenjihyakkei.
  • Dead Horse Genre: Critics, who usually believe in Three Chords and the Truth, have tended to hate the genre, even during its heyday in the early '70s. Today, they still hold prog up as the other reason '70s music sucked so much. This is probably influenced by Lester Bangs' and Robert Christgau's disdain for prog. The critical darlings of the first half of the '70s were Singer Songwriters like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell and Proto Punk bands like the New York Dolls and The Stooges, while critics went for Punk Rock, Post-Punk and New Wave Music in the second half. A prominent exception is Allmusic, which has given several famous prog albums the maximum rating of five stars, as is the Italian writer Piero Scaruffi, who ranks prog albums as two of his top three albums ever made (three of three if you count Beefheart as prog). Pitchfork has been known to give prog records good reviews on occasion as well note , but on the whole it much more frequently lambastes them. And, for that matter, even Christgau has given good reviews to prog records on occasion (Henry Cow, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, etc.). Other than that, the only positive press coverage prog artists usually get is in magazines catering to musicians. Despite this, and no doubt precisely because of its appeal to musicians, the genre still has a number of Spiritual Successors and other lasting influences on modern music; see below.
  • Denser and Wackier: Prog rock bands tackled obscure philosophical and fantasy topics in their Concept Albums, compared to the idealism of late '60s rock. The concert theatrics could be bizarre, such as Keith Emerson's infamous spinning piano.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The genre is famous for its lavish album cover art from artists such as Roger Dean and the Hipgnosis studio.
  • Epic Rocking: Naturally, given the song lengths. Often more focus on "epic" than rocking, obviously.
    • The Jethro Tull albums Thick as a Brick and A Passion Play contained one song each, broken up by an interlude that allowed the listener to flip the record.
    • Mike Oldfield has done this multiple times; his first four albums particularly take this trope to the extreme, consisting solely of side-length suites. Incantations particularly turns it up a notch, featuring seventy-three minutes split over four sides, without interludes to let the listener to flip the record. As a result it works very well on CD. He would later revive the practice with Amarok (consisting of a single, unbroken, hour-long suite) and Return to Ommadawn (which brought back the side-length suite technique from his early work).
    • Robert Fripp (of King Crimson)'s collaborations with Brian Eno probably bear mentioning here as well; they are typically comprised of a single track split across multiple album sides. However, they are as much an example of the ambient genre as they are of progressive rock.
    • Many other bands similarly record albums that effectively consist of one track, or at least multiple side-length pieces, but divide it into separate movements for ease of CD navigation (or, during the heyday of vinyl, because it resulted in higher royalties). Examples include Magma (around half their output), Camel (The Snow Goose), Hatfield And The North (basically both their official full-length albums, although "Mumps" stands out for being twenty minutes long on its own), Frank Zappa (Absolutely Free), Devil Doll (All of their released output except Eliogabalus; Dies Irae is split into multiple tracks but still plays as a single song), Dream Theater (the second disc of Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence is a single 42-minute suite divided into eight tracks; the live version on Score is formatted as one track), Porcupine Tree (the main suite of The Incident is around 55 minutes, although it includes a bonus disc with four songs not part of the suite), and Transatlantic (The Whirlwind and The Absolute Universe; both are listed as multiple tracks but the live versions of The Whirlwind are indexed as one track, and the "Forevermore" edition of The Absolute Universe is a double-CD). Pink Floyd could be considered an example as well, although theirs often feel more like several songs stitched together with Fading into the Next Song. Other albums, such as Third by Soft Machine and Tales from Topographic Oceans by Yes, as well as much of Tangerine Dream's output, consist of one song per LP side, but they are counted as separate songs.
    • The side-length piece, usually in the form of a multi-part suite, is a staple of progressive rock; particularly acclaimed examples include "Supper's Ready" by Genesis; "Close to the Edge" and "The Gates of Delirium" by Yes; "Nine Feet Underground" by Caravan; "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" by Van der Graaf Generator; "Lizard" by King Crimson; "2112" and "Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres" by Rush; "Tarkus" and "Karn Evil 9" by Emerson, Lake & Palmer; "Anesthetize" by Porcupine Tree; "The Adventures of Greggery Peccary" by Frank Zappa; "Cassandra Gemini" by The Mars Volta; "A Mind Beside Itself", "Octavarium", and "A Change of Seasons" by Dream Theater; "Grendel" and "Ocean Cloud" by Marillion; "Echoes" by Pink Floyd; and "Autobahn" by Kraftwerk. This is nowhere near a complete list of acclaimed compositions in this vein; feel free to add additional examples.
  • The Faceless: Prog rock bands had a habit of not showing their faces on their album covers, preferring more fanciful designs. This irked a lot of critics and helped turned them against the genre. This also backfired when members of established progressive rock bands like Pink Floyd's Roger Waters and Supertramp's Roger Hodgson attempted to go solo — nobody knew who they were. Combined with the increasingly personality-driven nature of popular music, this is one reason there are relatively few solo artists working in progressive rock apart from eccentrics like Peter Gabriel or Kate Bush.
  • Fading into the Next Song/Siamese Twin Songs: In addition to its liberal use in the genre (Pink Floyd loved it, and other bands such as Marillion and The Mars Volta have used it extensively as well), some of the examples of Epic Rocking can have a similar feeling to this trope. For example, "Supper's Ready" by Genesis was presumably stitched together from multiple sources (in particular, "Willow Farm" is confirmed to have originally been a separate composition before the band decided to incorporate it into the suite). In addition, if a piece that was treated as a single song for the vinyl era is divided into multiple tracks on a CD release for ease of CD navigation, it will inevitably result in this trope.
  • Fandom Rivalry: With Punk Rock, dating back to The '70s. Though there are artists who combine elements of both (The Mars Volta are an excellent example). Johnny Rotten admitted to being a fan of prog, and it obviously influenced Public Image Ltd.. Krautrock, particularly Can and Neu!, was a big influence on Post-Punk. Many punk and new wave acts were also heavily influenced by Roxy Music.
    • In truth, the idea of a rivalry between punk and prog musicians is somewhat a case of historical revisionism. The audiences of the two genres didn't overlap much at the time, but the musicians themselves weren't as invested in the idea as their fanbases and rock critics were. In fact, punk legend Joe Strummer and prog icon Robert Fripp admired one another's music, and they even did a dual interview for a British music magazine in 1981 where they both spent plenty of time gushing over the other's band. The idea that the early waves of punk featured sloppy musicianship is mostly due to the example of Sid Vicious; the other Sex Pistols were quite competent musicians and simply played Three Chords and the Truth material because that's what they wanted to play at the timenote . But, as mentioned, John Lydon was a big fan of prog bands like Magma, Can, and Van der Graaf Generator, and, despite his "I Hate Pink Floyd" shirt, didn't even hate them (he was just using it to troll people).

      The same goes for a lot of other punk bands — The Clash didn't learn to play their instruments with their first album, as is often claimed, and albums like London Calling and Sandinista! demonstrated what truly sophisticated musicians they were. Some punk bands' music, such as Dead Kennedys', almost bordered on prog themselves (listen to "MTV - Get Off the Air" or "Stars and Stripes of Corruption", both of which feature a very prog-like tripartite structure), and it goes without saying that the Kennedys were very skilled musicians. (The prog influence is even more obvious on some of Jello Biafra's solo work, in which he really delves into Epic Rocking.) Critics to a certain extent seem to have taken The Ramones' Three Chords and the Truth style and run with it a bit more than was merited.

      And it's probably worth mentioning that the genres even have a lot of their roots in common - The Doors, The Who, and The Velvet Underground in particular exerted unmistakable influence on both genres. For that matter, some performers somewhat straddled the two genres, such as David Bowie, who produced records by Lou Reed, The Stooges, and Iggy Pop but also collaborated with Brian Eno and Robert Fripp and made decidedly prog-tinged albums like Station to Station, Low (David Bowie Album), and . John Cale is another good example as a classically-trained member of The Velvet Underground who flirted with both art-rock and punk rock as a performer and Record Producer. David Byrne adopted some prog-like theatrics for Talking Heads' 1983 tour captured in Stop Making Sense, including the famous big suit. Progarchives compared him to Peter Gabriel for this reason.

      Going the other way, some prog musicians embraced New Wave Music, and many incorporated influence from punk (such as Yes on Drama and Pink Floyd on Animalsnote ; Floyd's Nick Mason also produced an album by The Damned). Robert Fripp collaborated with Talking Heads and even hired Adrien Belew, who had played on Remain in Light and its supporting tour, to front the revived King Crimson. Missing Persons was founded by members who, like Belew, were veterans of Frank Zappa's backing band. Peter Gabriel embraced the style in the early '80s. Before that, he had Television open up for him on his debut solo tour in 1977. (And Television themselves, despite usually being classed as a punk band, performed complex enough music that if they'd featured keyboards or performed five years earlier, they might've been grouped in with progressive rock.) Rush also drew influence from new wave, particularly on the Moving Pictures and Signals albums. All three members of The Police had roots in the genre as well. So did Joy Division producer Martin Hannett, which showed in his penchant for sonic experimentation. Hawkwind album cover designer Barney Bubbles formed an association with Stiff Records in the late '70s, before moving on with Elvis Costello to Radar Records and F-Beat.

      More recently, beyond the obvious examples of bands that combine prog and punk influences like Cardiacs, The Mars Volta, and basically any band that's ever performed Progressive Metal, there are a lot of subtler examples, as well. The Pixies' Black Francis confessed to being a major fan of Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Captain Beefheart growing up, and while the band is typically noted for using a Three Chords and the Truth style, they still display subtle influence from prog rock like their frequent use of Uncommon Time and their occasional use of unconventional song structures. Similarly, Pavement also occasionally displays influence from prog rock (mostly in the same aspects, plus the occasional 6+-minute song). Meanwhile, other later alternative/indie bands like Radiohead, Faith No More, and The Smashing Pumpkins are sometimes categorised as prog acts themselves. By necessity, prog musicians have also absorbed some of the "DIY" values of punk. Most modern prog albums and reissues of less-known acts from prog's heyday are released on independent labels, as major labels are generally only interested in reissues of popular classic prog acts, if they're interested at all. Modern DAW software also gives musicians capabilities in home studios that Pink Floyd could only have dreamed of in the '70s at Abbey Road.
  • Gateway Series: A lot of rock fans have gotten into classical and jazz via prog. Also goes the other way. Plenty of classical and jazz snobs have decided that that "jungle music" isn't so bad after all after discovering prog.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The genre is popular in Eastern Europe.
  • Genius Bonus/Viewers Are Geniuses: In addition to the fact that musicians are more likely to appreciate the musicianship there are often all sorts of bizarre subtexts to the lyrics that can't be easily picked up on. Also existent are frequent quotes/covers from the classical and traditional repertoire that might not be familiar to a casual listener, as well as many references to obscure science fiction and fantasy works that will go over the heads of most listeners.
  • Heavy Mithril: While progressive rock bands aren't necessarily heavy, the use of references to science fiction and fantasy works are not only common, but expected. There's a reason that many progressive rock bands have entries on the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction .
  • Instrumentals: Since most songs either featured long instrumental interludes or solos, this was the next logical step. Depending on the listener this is either the best or worst part of prog-rock. Either it shows the musician's true talent as an artist, or it's needless showboating.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks!: As with indie rock, some prog fans have expressed disdain for the more popular progressive rock bands like Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis or Rush, preferring more obscure acts.
  • Large Ham: Prog is pretty much the musical equivalent of this trope, with Progressive Metal taking it up a notch and Technical Death Metal taking it beyond that. This may be part of the reason critics often dislike the genre. Unsurprisingly, the genre has produced a number of highly theatrical and flamboyant performers who are direct examples of the trope. This seems to be particularly common amongst keyboard players (e.g., Rick Wakeman, Keith Emerson, Matt Bellamy [although the latter of these is equally hammy as a guitarist and vocalist]), though other musicians and vocalists can get into it frequently as well (Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins of Genesis, Geddy Lee and Neil Peart of Rush, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, etc.)
    • Erstwhile Yes vocalist/co-songwriter Jon Anderson, who's often not actually particularly hammy by prog standards (though he has his moments, as on "Heart of the Sunrise"), said in one interview that he felt that a main goal of Yes' music was to express emotions directly and honestly, and speculated that this was a major reason that their music was often critically polarising. They didn't seem to care about the critical reactions, either, because, having already noted that this was a characteristic of their music that polarised audiences and critics, they explicitly wrote "And You and I" with the intention of being as emotionally direct as possible.
  • Lead Bassist: The genre seems to have a disproportionate number of them, including Greg Lake, Chris Squire, Geddy Lee, John Wetton and Roger Waters, to name a few.
  • Lead Drummer: Also a lot of these, including Phil Collins, Bill Bruford, Neil Peart, Christian Vander, Tatsuda Yoshida (of Ruins and Koenjihyakkei), etc. The prevalence of these two tropes is likely in no small part due to the technically demanding nature of progressive rock, but even despite this, there seem to be a disproportionate number of bassists and drummers who are lead vocalists or the main creative forces of their respective acts, in contrast to the usual stereotypes about rock rhythm section players.
  • Limited Lyrics Song: Many prog epics have lengthy instrumental breaks, making them examples of this trope.
  • Miniscule Rocking: While the twenty-minute song is a widely noted staple of progressive rock, the two-minute interlude is honestly nearly as ubiquitous. As one example, From Silence to Somewhere by Wobbler has a twenty-one-minute song, a two-minute interlude, a ten-minute song, and a thirteen-minute song. This is a fairly typical progressive rock track list.
  • Modulation: Many progressive rock songs change key signatures several times, which typically goes hand-in-hand with Epic Rocking (it's a good way to hold a listener's attention during a lengthier composition).
  • Never Live It Down: The Godley & Creme album Consequences caused one. It was a triple-disc Concept Album released in 1977; despite being pretty much the only one of its kind during prog's heyday, the phrase "triple-disc concept album" comes up fairly frequently in criticisms of the genre. In the popular imagination, prog rock is also 20-minute Mellotron solos.
  • Protection from Editors: The genre emerged when record companies were more willing to give their artists a lot of creative freedom.
  • Purple Prose: Many bands such as Yes would write songs in a rather flowery fashion. But Tropes Are Not Bad, not to mention that some bands were actually good at it.
  • Recurring Riff: Many concept albums reuse melodies at some points to represent a character, an idea, or a story element. Even some albums that aren't concept albums will use melodies multiple times, which often falls under Bookends.
  • Rock Opera: Often goes hand-in-hand with the concept album.
  • Siamese Twin Songs: It's very common for progressive rock songs to segue into each other.
  • Song Style Shift: Very common, particularly with "chapter"-structured songs that many prog bands had. The main reason for these chapters was that they were perceived as separate songs for royalty purposes.
  • Spiritual Successor: Despite critics' overall loathing for the genre, it continues to have substantial influence in a number of contemporary music styles (beyond the straight-up prog classicists who emerge from time to time like Änglagård and Wobbler). A partial explanation for this may be that, due to the complexity of its instrumentation and compositions, it holds particular appeal to other musicians.
    • Post-Rock and Math Rock. While both genres also draw from Alternative Rock and Post-Punk, they keep the weirdness of progressive rock, including the odd time signatures and unusual instrumentation.
    • Some Alternative Hip Hop artists utilize elements of progressive rock as well, such as Atmosphere, Aesop Rock, Cage, Caparezza, dälek, Kid Cudi, Lupe Fiasco and Kanye West (Mainly on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but even before then he had prog elements, e.g. Late Registration's orchestra).
    • Krautrock, to the extent that some sites just consider it a subgenre of prog.
    • Progressive Metal and Progressive Death Metal, obviously, as well as Avant-Garde Metal, the more progressive and experimental strains of Black Metal, and post-metal (bands are listed under Doom Metal, and some are also listed under Post-Rock).
    • Video game composers have been unusually likely to be prog fans. Nobuo Uematsu (best known for Final Fantasy), one of the most influential early VGM composers, was a huge, avowed fan of Emerson, Lake & Palmer (whom he listed as one of his largest influences after Elton John) and other prog groups, and this seems to have influenced his hiring decisions: Hiroki Kikuta (best known for Secret of Mana) has said he was hired to compose for Square after bonding with him over their love of ELP and other prog groups (Kikuta cites Pink Floyd as his biggest influence and has said ELP first sparked his interest in music). British game composer Tim Follin, another influential early game composer, also cites the genre as an influence on his work. Koji Kondo, probably the most famous and widely heard video game composer in history (best known for Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, both of whose main themes he composed), also cites ELP as an influence (as well as Deep Purple). Michiru Yamane is also a fan, and has cited Dream Theater as an influence in particular. The influential Halo composer Martin O'Donnell is also known to be a fan of progressive rock, and his frequent co-composer Michael Salvatori actually recorded a prog folk album called Waiting for Autumn in 1982, decades before working on Halo.note  The fact that many early prog groups were early pioneers with synthesizers in popular music probably explains a large part of their influence (and ELP's in particular) on video game soundtracks; video game soundtracks were, after all, also working mostly (or entirely) with synthesizers until relatively recently.
    • Even some Post-Hardcore bands display some substantial prog influence; some, such as The Fall of Troy, The Mars Volta, Biffy Clyro, and Circa Survive could essentially be said to combine the two genres (and the Mars Volta are more dominantly prog than post-hardcore, despite splintering out of seminal post-hardcore band At the Drive-In).
    • The 2010s saw the heyday of post-prog, in particular the '80s King Crimson-inspired fusion of progressive, alternative and ambient rock almost entirely nurtured by the Kscope label, with perhaps the biggest influence (and biggest driver) being Steven Wilson. Representative acts include Anathema, The Pineapple Thief and Nosound.
    • Critics have noted some progressive rock influence on Janelle Monįe's Genre-Busting sound. The multi-part science-fiction concept albums and orchestral elements may be a tell here.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Why U.K. critics hated the genre so much.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: While prog was mainly a British and European phenomenon, with Rush and Kansas being the most prominent North American exponents of the genre, the rise of the jazz fusion movement in the U.S. coincided with the peak popularity of progressive rock, with Miles Davis, John McLaughlin and Herbie Hancock among the leaders of jazz fusion. Jazz fusion was also an attempt to add more complex textures to rock music, in this case jazz, though the Canterbury Scene was very similar. At the same time, R&B artists like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Parliament-Funkadelic, seemed to be influenced by the movement, creating Concept Albums, incorporating more serious lyrics, experimenting with synthesizers and adopting stage theatrics.
  • Trope Codifier: King Crimson is the likeliest choice you'll hear for the whole genre, as well as for several of its subgenres. As for specific subgenres, potential candidates are:
  • Trope Maker: Where exactly psychedelia and Baroque Pop became Progressive Rock is still debated, but King Crimson's In the Court of the Crimson King is the album you're most likely to hear cited. Other works sometimes cited are The Moody Blues' Days of Future Passed, The Mothers of Invention's Absolutely Free, or Deep Purple's Concerto for Group and Orchestra. Generally, the first prog band is cited as being the Moody Blues, King Crimson, or the Mothers. One thing everyone agrees upon is that In the Court of the Crimson King was the Trope Codifier, though.
  • Troubled Production: The complex music, temperamental synthesizers and electromechanical keyboards of the era, and complicated stage theatrics prior to digital show control technology made recording and touring a nightmare for many progressive rock bands. As with New Hollywood, the reputation for prog rock albums and tours suffering from this led to a backlash against the genre. The constant stresses that bands faced with production problems is one reason many of them broke up or lost key members by the end of the '70s, and those that stayed together often simplified their music and their stage shows.
  • True Art: What prog musicians were/are aiming for, with varying degrees of success.
  • Uncommon Time: It would probably take less space to list progressive rock bands that don't use this trope than to list progressive rock bands that do. It's pretty much a requisite of the genre - in fact, it's arguably one of prog's defining characteristics, alongside Epic Rocking and other aspects of the music's instrumental complexity.
  • Ur-Example: Some will simply say King Crimson and leave it at that, but it's probably more complicated, because the genre didn't spring forth from a single source but brought together influences from a number of disparate genres previously not commonly associated with rock music, including classical and jazz. Acts frequently retroactively dubbed "proto-prog" include The Beatles, The Who, The Doors, The Velvet Underground, The Beach Boys, The Grateful Dead, Procol Harum, The Nice, Frank Zappa, The Moody Blues, Soft Machine, The United States of America (the band, not the country), Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, and Spirit. Some of these acts' influence can be felt felt more directly than others', and some of them later became prog if they didn't start out as such. For instance, The Who are not a prog band as a whole, but Quadrophenia is usually considered to be a prog album. Similarly, Soft Machine's early work probably isn't prog, but starting from Third, it is, and cases are sometimes made for the Dead's Blues for Allah and Terrapin Station; That Other Wiki has actually categorized the latter as a prog rock album at times (though the page keeps going back and forth on this). The strongest cases for being an Ur-Example probably go to Zappa (though he also may qualify as a Trope Maker), the Moody Blues (ditto), the Beatles, the Who, or Deep Purple. The Beach Boys are a somewhat interesting case in that while the strength of both Pet Sounds and Smile have led them to be categorized by some as an early prog rock band, it's accepted that they would've had a stronger claim to starting the genre had SMiLE been finished in 1967.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Artists often make obscure literary and philosophical references in their songs.
  • Watch It Stoned: Coming out of Psychedelic Rock, prog inherited the former's connection to the counterculture and thus the reputation that the music was best appreciated with some chemical...enhancement. Of course, plenty of performers and fans indulged, but some more serious prog musicians, such as the members of Pink Floyd, were annoyed by the suggestion that their music was for stoners or acid heads.

Examples of prog songs:

Alternative Title(s): Prog Rock