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Subject: rec.music.progressive Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Part 1/8

This article was archived around: NNTP-Posting-Sat, 13 Oct 2007 12:58:19 -0500

All FAQs in Directory: music/progressive
All FAQs posted in: rec.music.progressive, alt.rock-n-roll.metal.progressive
Source: Usenet Version


The most recent ascii versions of these FAQs are available at
ftp://ftp.kime.org.uk/RMP The Web versions are available at: http://www.kime.org.uk/PK/rmp_faqs.html All mail addresses have been anti-spammed by replacing "@" with " AT ". Please put the "@" back in order to use the email addresses. This is necessary, unfortunately, since I know that my spam levels have rocketed since spamming started in earnest. Newsgroup names should be news: URLs so you can read any newsgroup mentioned here by clicking them (again, providing your browser supports them). Also, some names are links to the Web pages of individuals. This file may be freely distributed as long as it is not modified in any way and contains this notice. *Please Note:* All ftp, and web addresses are given in standard URL format. If you are not familiar with this then read this short explanation. Simple URL format looks like this: ftp://*some.network.address*/some/path/ A URL as given above can be entered as it is into any Web browser. If you intend to use standard ftp, the starred part should be used as the address of the machine to which you should connect and the immediately following section as the directory to look in when you are connected. The part preceding the starred section can be ignored in this case. ================================ Welcome to rec.music.progressive ================================ rec.music.progressive passed its CFV on 2nd May 1995. It is the successor of alt.music.progressive and supersedes it. Being a rec.* group, it has much wider distribution than a.m.p had and is aimed at generating and disseminating discussion of progressive and non-mainstream music with a wider audience than was previously the case. The FAQs have been registered with news.answers and thus are "official" in the only real sense of the word applicable to FAQs. This FAQ is an introduction intended to give some idea of the scope of discussions that the group supports. It attempts to present a relatively uncontroversial and illuminating picture of what is meant by the term "progressive music" as commonly understood in the group. Ideally, you should read this in conjunction with FAQ 4. It is recommended that people new to non-mainstream music read this FAQ along with FAQ 4 before posting the perennial question "What is progressive music?" ... -------------------------- What is Progressive Music? -------------------------- "Progressive rock was what happened in the early 70's when certain brilliant instrumentalists got fed up with playing three-and-a-half minute long songs about teenage love. Unfortunately, this led them to start playing ten-and-a-half minute long songs about nothing in particular." -- Geoff Nicholson, `Big Noises: Rock Guitar in the 1990s', Quadrant Books, 1991. Humour aside, there are probably as many answers as there are people reading this, and all answers contain some insight into the question and concepts involved. The word "progressive" has been defined to mean "forward moving", "widening in scope", "changing in increments" and so on. However, in order to understand what is meant by "progressive music", one must look beyond the dictionary to the usage it has in circles where the term is common currency. Hereafter, we shall forgo the scare-quotes and fearlessly use the term "progressive" with wanton abandon as this should help reduce any reservations that people feel about the more irrelevant connotations. You will often see the term "progressive rock" used as a term intended to cover the same field as "progressive music". "progressive rock" is a common phrase that is generally not meant to restrict the concept to rock-related examples. Indeed, you sometime see, for example, people refer to ambient Eno as "progressive rock". Please remember this is now a mnemonic term that no longer has strictly compositional meaning. It refers to progressive music in the same way that "juice" is sometimes used to refer to any soft drink (at least where I currently live in Edinburgh, Scotland). For terms of discussion on rec.music.progressive(r.m.p), most progressive music is based to some degree on: 70's Art Rock, Canterbury, Psychedelic, Fusion, Krautrock, Classical Rock, Folk, Space Rock, RIO, and Zeuhl Music (for a definition of these terms, see FAQ 4) and/or many other forms of music that mainstream music is, in many cases, completely oblivious of. Recently, in the last 10-15 years, the mainstream media has used the word progressive to describe college music, alternative pop, and other forms of music. While this is a common use of the word, it is not the use we are referring to on this newsgroup. If you are reading this for the first time and you feel progressive music focuses on bands such as The Smiths, The Cure, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, and/or one of the many bands showcased on MTV's "120 Minutes" or "Alternative Nation", you will probably prefer to read alt.music.alternative. Naturally, one of the first desires of someone approaching this area is to find some characteristic that defines a given piece of music as progressive. Unfortunately, as is the case with most concepts, there is certainly no one feature that all music deemed progressive share. However, this detracts nothing from the comfortable use of the word on r.m.p. Why might this be? There are two reasons I think. Firstly, the word is best defined in its use by people versed in uttering it. This is the case with many words and the time-worn Wittgenstein comments regarding the impossibility of providing a definition that specifies all and only all of things that answer to the concept "game" are germane here. All games share no single feature that does not allow non games under the concept as well. So it is with "progressive". Not all progressive music shares a common characteristic but one can trace commonalties between arbitrary instances of the term, thus creating a huge web of interconnected instances. For example, it is hard to find direct commonalties between Brian Eno and Dr Nerve but one might easily trace common threads by way of intermediate examples. In this way we can account for the coherency of a taste that includes both. Occasionally, you will see debates on r.m.p about what "progressive" means which is healthy and expected. However, as you will quickly realise, that there is a surprisingly unified sense of what "belongs" on r.m.p - one which transcends attempts to provide an impossibly brief nutshell definition. Having said that, you can obtain an idea of what people mean by the term "progressive" if you entertain descriptions like "complex", "intricate", "innovative", "challenging" and so forth. Obviously none of these, even if taken in combination, are necessary or sufficient to categorically define the term. Glibly, we may say that progressive music is what sounds like other progressive music. This is not a vicious circle as there as accepted exemplars, for example early Genesis, Yes and King Crimson that we may use as the basis for analogy. One must be very careful not to use such accepted canons as the only exemplars otherwise you are ignoring the central feature of such a term as "progressive": that is has no central defining terms. In the end, it is up to the listener to draw boundaries where they see fit, if they see fit at all; it is merely useful to know where others have come to draw boundaries so as to avoid confusion and unnecessary problems. One happy attitude that you will find on r.m.pis that there is a general consensus that it is the music that is important, and not what you decide to label it so feel free to test the waters and ask if you are considering discussing something you are suspicious may be more relevantly discussed elsewhere. People who spend a lot of time attempting to label certain instances of music are probably more interested in taxonomy than music. As mentioned above, the reason there is so much disagreement about what music is progressive and how progressive it really is, is that the term is used to describe many ostensibly different styles of music. Many innovative and unclassifiable musics are included under the progressive umbrella, which leads to a lot of confusion. So, regardless of how you feel about labelling and the boundaries of the term, when you read r.m.p., keep in mind that many people reading the group many be coming from a completely different musical background, and may be listening for different reasons. The term is absolutely not limited to early Yes and Genesis. People who think this tend to be very surprised when they first hear Henry Cow, Magma or Univers Zero. Popular media is generally guilty for this common attitude as this is mostly what they talk about when they undertake one of those pointless, inaccurate and laughably insulting "Progressive Rock Retrospective" articles. Progressive music is that which is discussed on r.m.p. If you can appreciate this without thinking that I am making any claims of eminence for r.m.p, then you understand the state of play I think. You need a CD player. Most re-issues of lost music and most new releases are produced for CD only. Personally, I have spent a small fortune since discovering r.m.p and the area in general and I consider it some of the best investments I have ever made. Do not be intimidated by people with huge collections, encyclopaedic knowledge as r.m.p is a friendly place where the overriding concern is to promote the enjoyment of some of the finest music ever made that you would simply never otherwise hear about. I am continually amazed at the degree of interconnection between the artists, bands and music in what is an hugely eclectic field. I find this very satisfying as it corroborates the intuition that there is something unifying about the field as a whole. You will find shared members, houses, instruments etc. amongst bands you came to from radically different directions but which are all deemed progressive. One thing that people find suprising when their musical horizons are broadened is that there are different ways of listening to music depending on its characteristics. The commonly accepted sub-genres listed in FAQ 4 often concentrate on different aspects of music. For example, much RIO has a penchant for rhythm and requires a different attitude in the listener to textural ambient music which may be focusing completely on sonority to the exclusion of rhythm. The mark of an experienced listener is being able to switch between these different focuses quickly and not to criticise music for paying no attention to something it is not even attempting to address. No one form of music can address all interesting aspects of music. This leads me to suggest that the mature and reasoned listener who is truly interested in music will have tastes more diverse than many people would be able to imagine. Progressive music, I have found, addresses a particularly wide spectrum of interesting attributes. One more thing. There is a pernicious tendency for some people to regard progressive music as the jewel in the crown of the music. This is simply nonsense from people with narrow musical experience. Many experienced progressive music enthusiasts have very wise tastes indeed and you will catch a glimpse of these from time to time. I have done so and they have lead to very fruitful and rewarding music explorations in many different directions. Progressive music is a small corner of music as a whole. I encourage everyone to explore as widely as possible. Having said this, I and presumably you as you are reading this, suspect progressive music is a particularly interesting corner to explore. ---------------------------------- What is rec.music.progressive For? ---------------------------------- Discussion on r.m.p usually focuses on the lesser known progressive bands. While Yes, Genesis, ELP, King Crimson, and the like will always have a home on r.m.p, they also have their own mailing lists (see FAQ 5). While almost everyone reading r.m.p is an enthusiast of one or more of these groups, many are not terribly interested in what kind of beer Mike Rutherford drinks, Steve Howe's favorite vegetable, or the number of hairs on Robert Fripp's head. The purpose of this newsgroup is to explore a wide variety of progressive music, rather than trying to learn the most trivial facts about a few examples. Also, the most knowledgeable people on each specific example will almost certainly read the respective mailing lists, but may not read r.m.p. So, while discussion of a new Yes release is a fair topic for r.m.p (preferably, alt.music.yes), detailed analyses of Yes lyrics might well be better off on the Yes mailing list. As with most other newsgroups, r.m.p is better without flame wars. If you have been on the net for more than a month, you have probably seen several already. The best thing to do to people who flame is to ignore them. You do not need to post a message telling everyone what an idiot the flamer is, because that person has already let us know that they are an idiot. The best way to avoid flames is to use tact and be respectful. Probably nobody in the world is going to agree with your musical opinions completely, so instead of being inflammatory, you can carefully write a explanation of why you find the new Genesis release substandard. The general rule of thumb is: if you have to think twice about whether your post will upset anyone, it is probably better not to post. Instead, find a more tactful and respectful wording of what you want to say. However, a caveat. Given that r.m.p is generally populated with a type who is often more concerned about music than most, one can expect and even see the point of occasional remarks that are more signs of heated concern and stress relief. I think this is a good thing given the lack of forums to discuss anything other than popular releases on the media. Yes, r.m.p has a therapeutic role. I jest not. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ rec.music.progressive Congratulates Itself ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ It may be interesting to read what an unbiased and randomly selected set of r.m.p readers have said about it: "Not since the '70's when I was actually able to listen to a real progressive radio station have I been able to pick up such excellent music. I'm able to glean from opinions expressed here on r.m.p. as to what artists/albums I would like (as opposed to the old days where you could listen on the radio). Let me tell you, we've got a pretty good batting average going! Last weekend I scored two Camel CDs, Cairo, IQ, Nektar, Eloy and Soft Machine- all at local Best Buys or Tower. They were all hits and no misses- great music! Can't wait to find more. Thanks to all on r.m.p!" *Tony Anello* (anello AT wwa.com) "I, too, can credit r.m.p. with providing me with a long list of bands that I'd never heard of before. Of course, the things that have attracted me are recent releases on independent labels, most of which I haven't been able to find anywhere locally (though there have been some enjoyable exceptions including Iluvatar's first release used). Anyway, thanks for helping me find about 90% of the music I'm currently listening to, and a long list of things that I'm going to order one of these days. Maybe one day my budget will allow me to catch up! :)" *Paul Konstant* (Paul_H_Konstant AT sbphrd.com) "I also would never have heard of or heard most of the stuff I listen to nowadays if it wasn't for this group or the GEPR; I picked up on Henry Cow, Magma, Only A Mother, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, and the entire Cuneiform catalog from this group. A hearty thanks." *David Lynch* (dflync01 AT starbase.spd.louisville.edu) "I'm in the same boat. I'd have never heard about Progday '96. That in itself has been worth all the online charges ten times over. Also found out about IQ, Jadis, Pallas, Arena, Enchant, MM Music, Mastermind, Iluvatar, Discipline, on and on and on.... Even made the trip up to Montreal (three times!!) to see The Musical Box. Thank you all for letting me vent my musical opinions and learn about the best music in all the world." *Dave Dery* (Skilbo AT gnn.com) --------------------- Where To Go From Here --------------------- If this is the first time you have seen this file, you are probably just scratching the surface. For more information on progressive music, including mail order outlets, publications, stores that sell much of what you will find discussed, progressive music sources on the net, or general information on progressive music, please read the rest of the FAQs. -------------------- This FAQ is maintained by Phil Kime(Philip AT kime.org.uk). Comments, questions, and criticisms are positively always welcome. This text was taken in part from the previous versions of this FAQ, which were maintained by Scott McMahan, and Mike Borella. The FAQs were brought into being originally through the sterling efforts of Malcolm Humes. Many thanks go to all of these gentlemen for their excellent work.--------------------