Progressive Rock: Why Does it Matter?

Student Author(s)

Thomas Flath

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Julia Randel

Document Type


Event Date



Progressive rock is a genre defined in the early 1970s by avant-garde musicians that were heavily influenced by classical music and attempted to blend that with modern rock. Many musicians today are not aware of the influence the genre has had. Bands like King Crimson, Yes, ELP, Genesis, Rush, and Pink Floyd were the leaders of this movement. These musicians wanted to create music that was truly a work of art and that would survive the test of time. The uniqueness of the genre can be seen when observing the instrumentation, time signatures, and the inclusion of classical music elements. They incorporated classical elements by doing unique covers of classical pieces, using classical forms and styles, and using an orchestra in the music itself. Since the genre is so diverse, defining it becomes difficult. Author Jerry Lucky arrived at a definition that covers the basics, and through that definition I see how the music has changed in the past 30 years by applying it to a song from the ’70s as well as a modern day song, specifically Yes’s Close to the Edge and Dream Theater’s Octavarium.

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