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Periods in Progressive Rock and the Problem of Authenticity

Sheinbaum, John J.

Though "largely ignored" by much mainstream popular music scholarship and "largely despised" by most critics, the genre of "self consciously complex" rock music was usually known as 1970's "progressive" (or "prog") rock was very popular and influential across England and North America in its time, and its fan base remains dedicated to this day. Progressive rock exhibits a startling eclecticism and diverse sources of influence, and as such is notoriously difficult to define from a stylistic point of view. The label "progressive" instead implies association with the late 1960s counterculture and, more directly, an aesthetic of experimentation and artistic freedom at the time when recording technologies were developing rapidly and record companies enjoyed a large degree of financial success. Overall, though, the genre is perhaps "best remembered" for "epic subject matter," "gargantuan stage shows," and "dazzling virtuosity" and, in the wake of the Beatles 1967 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, for developing a rock music that seemed to invite the audience to listen rather than dance.

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Current Musicology

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Music
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October 15, 2014
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