[personal profile] notyourbroom
Less than a megabyte, and less than a minute, and [I think] fairly interesting;

Variations on a theme in Genesis - Firth of Fifth

Smaller clip highlighting just one correspondence

One feature of progressive rock that I like is its willingness to dissociate thematic elements from performance styles.

It is not unusual for classical1 pieces to consist largely of divergent variations [on one or more themes], which may differ in tempo, timbre, articulatory nuances2, or other such elements of performance style. Popular music, however, does not typically engage in this sort of development- at least, not to a significant extent. While some bands are more experimental than others, the sheer musical limitations3 imposed upon small groups inhibit a band's ability to do anything radically different from song to song, let alone from section to section of a single piece.

Progressive rock groups usually had members who were classically trained in one or more instruments, as well as in music theory (for composition), and did not shy away from grandious-yet-painstaking studio undertakings. There are recordings of progressive rock songs nearly an hour in length (Thick as a Brick 4 is one example), and even minor songs typically run 5-10 minutes in length. While classical structure isn't necessarily adhered to, elements of classical composition- including constructing variations on themes- shows up commonly in progressive rock pieces.

In the first section of this clip, a piano, a bass, and some percussion cradle a solo flute5 as it darts around in a vaguely wistful and generally mysterious fashion.

In the second section, with quite different and heavier instrumentation, an electric guitar wails out a distraught, slowed-down version of the theme that the flute introduced earlier.

..it is fun. :D



1 to use the term broadly
2 Is there a better way to say this? I'm using it as an umbrella term for, say, legato vs. staccato vs. marcato vs. rubato vs. gelato and so forth.
3 Instruments available, ability to play said instruments, ability to adequately transport and amplify instruments for performance, etc.
4 From the wikipedia article: "The album on LP vinyl runs as one seamless track on both sides of the record. The song is notable for its numerous time signature and tempo changes, as well as a large number of themes throughout the piece, resembling a typical classical symphony in this regard, rather than a typical rock song."
5 Well, okay, the flute is doubled by piano sometimes.

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notyourbroom

September 2008

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