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Archive-name: music/progresive/introduction
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Last-modified: Mon Nov 4 17:35:35 GB-Eire 1996

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		   Welcome to
		   ================================ passed its CFV on 2nd May 1995. It is the
successor of 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

-- 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 mnemon

For terms of discussion on, 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

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

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.

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

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,, 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 occasion
			  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* (

"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* (

"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* (

"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, M 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* (

			 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( 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.
=                    Phil Kime (                   =
=             Centre for Cognitive Science/Dept of Philosophy         =
=                         University of Edinburgh                     =

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