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13 Aug 2004

Music for the mind

Posted by Just a little unwell in General | 12:44pm

OK, when I say music, i'm only referring to Rock and its derivatives...... and probably forerunners......... and probably siblings....... and probably counterparts..... (guitar-based genres is what i mean) All the Hip-hop, Hindustani, Carnatic, Indipop, film music fans please excuse :) You've got wonderful stuff going there, but I've not taken them up for my current dissection.

Ok, coming back to my narrow definiton of music - well, it's not that narrow, if you know what I mean - you've got Classical rock, Modern rock (this avoids the 70s, 90s kinda terminology), Jazz, Blues, Country, Reggae, Metal (you're asking which one?), Alternative / grunge (are they same or different?) - quite a spectrum, I should say. Btw, I deliberately left out one genre in the above sentence which is the topic of this post *a gong goes out* - Progressive Rock.

Kids world over had fun making music - they made really wonderful stuff. But then they were becoming too sweet and innocent and romantic for the real world to take in anymore and their time was running out. Enter the bad guys and their loud music. They convinced everyone that the only sensible thing to do was to destroy. And destroy they did - the ear drums of their listeners, their own vocal cords, sometimes their musical instruments, and even their on-stage reputation. While this was going on, another breed of musicians were obsessed with intellectual improvisations and were producing music that was too perfect, too boring, and too uneventful.

Luckily some mature adults were still left to restore sanity. They were producing good entertaining music and they enjoyed a loyal fan following too. The music they produced can be broadly termed 'Progressive rock' which combined elements of symphony, rock, folk and jazz, thereby making it entertaining as well as intellectual, with elements of tradition and nostalgia thrown in. I came across some Internet sources on Prog Rock and realized that some of my favorite bands are Progressive rock bands. More important, I came to know of some bands which are exemplars in this genre and i'm totally into them these days.

Before I go into specific bands, I wish to ramble on about the charecteristics of this music - high pitched vocals (ok, not always), unpredictable sonic movements of the instruments - be it the strings or the percussions - which could have a halucinatory effect on the listener ('psychedelic rock' is an alternate name given to this genre), complex arrangements and rhythmic structures that throw a challenge to your power of understanding music, "unheard of" sounds to add to the unpredictability - made using highly customized instruments / techniques, melody or pleasantness of music - you generally don't hear screams or growls or jarring noises - but most important of all, virtuostic playing by all the musicians - they need to be highly talented to be playing progressive music. No wonder we have some of the best guitarists, best bassists, best keyboardists and best drummers in the world playing for progressive rock bands (please read this sentance again in case you weren't paying attention). And the length - this is not a genre for people with short attention spans - So no 3-minute numbers. You get to experience a song for at least 7 minutes or more - the time needed for all the musicians to realize their potential and get a sense of accomplishment. Well, there could be exceptions when the bands had to please their labels.

Some progressive rock bands that need no introduction - Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull and Queen. These are household names and I wouldn't go further describing them. Some other interesting prog bands are: Rush (divine drumming), Wishbone Ash (twin attack of two-parts guitaring), Queensryche (one of the best vocals i've heard), Kansas, Yes, King Crimson, Genesis (which had Phil Collins as their drummer / vocalist).... But the 'Metallica' of the genre would have to be Dream Theater. Their guitarist (forgot the name) is an inspiration to many a budding guitarist. Listening to their songs is an experience that transports you across many worlds. Then the bands which had their roots in Jazz, but produced what's called 'fusion', which is in any case Progressive Rock from the sound of it: Mahavishnu Orchestra (fronted by guitar god John McLaughlin), Weather Report (which had Bass ace Jaco Pastorius among others - if you havent tripped on his solos, you havent lived life to the fullest), Return to Forever (Chick Corea, Al Di Meola - the divine powers of the world)....... Indian band Mother Jane is walking its baby steps in this genre and a few numbers I heard of theirs are good. Apparently, their album was a sell out in places like Bangalore.

Not sure if we have many proggers here. I wish we have many more in Hyderabad - i'm not getting the records I want coz there aren't many takers here. May the proggers multiply - not biologically, but through baptizations :)

Current Mood: Grand
Current Music: Progressive rock

5 Comments | "Music for the mind" »

  1. By Gormless Gus

    16 Aug 2004, 3:00pm [ Reply ]

    Man, U gave me so many names to dig up. Thanks. That's my fav. way to spend time - discovering new music. I'm going to be "progressive" for sometime now. :) When I read the first few lines, I was hoping that the post would contain the thrue definition of "rock" music. I always wondered what it was...

    Oh, BTW, just added a post on the ex-dormant 'who let the dogs out.' Check it out!

  2. By JLU

    17 Aug 2004, 12:43pm [ Reply ]

    GG, thanks man :) I'm glad I got you interested and would be really happy if you would go on to discover the 'new' music.

    True definition of rock? I guess that should be my next post :) Just joking. When the pure sine wave of a vibrating string is chopped / sliced / slashed / minced using electronic intermediaries (effects processors)before it reaches the amplifier, the foundations of rock are said to be laid. If this sounds too scientific, I'll say that rock was born out of the miseries of early 20th century black musicians who wept through their guitar to drive their blues away. It was elevated to its pedestal when white musicians like Elvis Presley and Eric Clapton took to it and practised it almost like a religion. I was just airing my sentiments here.... i'm sure there are better sources on the Net to provide you more precise info :)

    I did check out your 'Enter Sandyman' :) Hope you'll post more often :)

  3. By meggie

    20 Aug 2004, 4:51pm [ Reply ]

    :) hows my buddy doing ? have linked u

  4. By meggie

    23 Aug 2004, 8:37pm [ Reply ]

    hey ! actually read this slowly and found it informative ....the only music i know is Dapaanguthu :D

  5. By JLU

    24 Aug 2004, 2:10pm [ Reply ]

    Meg :) The post was supposed to be read slowly ;)

    If you're into downloading songs, you may visit http://hoffmanshome.com/prog/index.htm and check out the Dream Theater songs available there.

    Btw, I dunno if 'dapaanguthu' can be considered as music :)

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