An Introduction to Prog

Although ‘Prog’ (a.k.a. Progressive) Rock is strongly associated with the iconic British arena bands of the early/mid 1970s, it’s become a thriving international musical phenomenon. Over the past decades, it has cross-fertilized with many different kinds of music (drawing from classical, jazz, academic, and world music at least as much as rock) and spawned many subgenres, including Rock-in-Opposition, Canterbury, Zeuhl, Space Rock, Krautrock, Symphonic Prog, Mathrock, etc. In most of its forms, Prog is often known for the extreme virtuosity of its musicians, the complexity of its compositions, quirky and dynamic meters, the use of groundbreaking studio techniques, and the edgy timbres and sounds of its instruments. Although mostly veiled in cultural obscurity, Prog Rock is now a worldwide phenomenon, with avid musicians, fans, and scenes active in every populated continent. The Prog scene isn’t ‘retro’ - it works as a musical laboratory that hatches bold new musical ideas that diffuse into the mainstream often many years later In this lunchtime IAP seminar, I will provide a ‘tasting tour’ through Prog Rock, introducing some of its most fundamental and vital bands while emphasizing, exploring, and celebrating this edgy music as we sample needledrops from essentially every subgenre of Prog hailing from all corners of the globe.


Date, Time and Location

01/10 Wed 12:00pm - 01:30pm E15-341
01/12 Fri 12:00pm - 01:30pm E15-341
01/17 Wed 12:00pm - 01:30pm E15-341
01/18 Thu 12:00pm - 01:30pm E15-341
01/19 Fri 12:00pm - 01:30pm E15-341
01/24 Wed 12:00pm - 01:30pm E15-341
01/26 Fri 12:00pm - 01:30pm E15-341
01/31 Wed 12:00pm - 01:30pm E15-341
02/02 Fri 12:00pm - 01:30pm E15-341


Link to the notes from an informal seminar that Prof. Paradiso gave at the Media Lab in 2011 based around concert videos from select Prog Rock artists [Link]

1: Intro - Prog's genesis in psychedelia, classic prog, etc. [Slides]

2: Fundamentals - Some Mandatory British Classics [Slides]

3: Classics To Contemporary [Slides]

4: Canterbury [Slides]

Note that this was the desired syllabus, but the class went at a much slower and more detailed pace through Prog Fundamentals - the other scenes below will be covered perhaps in a future IAP session on Advanced Prog

4: Rock in Opposition

5: Zeuhl

6: Space Rock and Neopsychedelia

7: French & Quebecois Prog

8: Rock Progressivo Italiano

9: Germany, Berlin, and Krautrock (perhaps some Scandinavia too)

10: Japanese Prog

Prof. Joseph Paradiso
617 253-8988

Don Derek Haddad - TA