The Prog Digest (July 2022) By: Klyde Kadiddlehumper
Written by Staff on July 18, 2022
Well now. When someone says the word Prog (more formally Progressive Music/Rock) – what comes to mind? A bunch of crazy people noodling around in some incomprehensible musical space?
Perhaps Rush. Perhaps ELP. But where did this all come from?
Let’s take a step back.
Mozart was considered progressive and, as it was once said, there were too many notes.
Drumming – we can settle on drumming, right? The first progressive drummer I heard was Gene Krupa. Oh, wait, that was the 40’s and 50’s.
Well…. screaming guitars – oh no, hang on – Robert Johnson. All this time later, we remember him not only for his playing, but for the fact that he sold his soul for the talent. Would you?
Progressive is a state of mind and a state of time.
We live in the age of the autotune – the single most evil invention ever. Yup, beats the daylights out of the atomic bomb or, maybe, My Pillow.
Progressive music is not new…Miles, Monk, Mingus, ‘Trains were all progressive. Hell, ”Bitches Brew” is still the gold standard.
Make no mistake, there are plenty of hacks – as opposed to Steve Hackett, who is a bloody genius.
Being progressive means taking risks and pushing the boundaries. A couple examples come to mind that you may not realize are pretty darned progressive.
There is a story about the late, great Chick Corea. As it was told to me, while Chick was in music school, his mentor/professor went on sabbatical and Chick had the keys to his office. Of course, the professor had a grand piano in said office. Chick would often practice on that piano. Well, the professor comes back, goes to his office and starts to play. The cacophonies sound that the piano made rattled the man. Turns out Chick had retuned the piano in quarter tones and didn’t tune it back. Amongst the most gangster progressive acts EVER.
Let’s take another example. Movie themes are not, usually, what you consider progressive. Think back to the original Michael Myers film – “Halloween”, starring Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis (best horror film screamer ever). The theme is so progressive – and fittingly – written in 13 time. Put the tune in your head and then count to it like this: 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2, 1-2. Add it up – 13. Now that you have that earworm – you are welcome.
There are many people and bands who we can call progressive. The category is interesting. Heck, one of the most prog bands out there won the first ever metal category at the Grammys…if you don’t know, look it up. Let’s just say that the winner in that category was not Metallica.
Look forward to discussions about bands, various types and the people who have cross- pollinated. The interesting names and styles.
In the meantime – be well and don’t let the mainstream get you down. There is more out there than you might imagine (unless, of course you are already a prog fan).