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Rocking the ClassicsEnglish Progressive Rock and the Counterculture$
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Edward Macan

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780195098884

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195098884.001.0001

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Four Different Progressive Rock Pieces

Four Different Progressive Rock Pieces

(p.85) 5 Four Different Progressive Rock Pieces
Rocking the Classics

Edward Macan

Oxford University Press

This chapter puts words, visuals, and music back together by considering four particularly representative pieces of the progressive rock era: ELP's Tarkus (1971), Close to the Edge (1972), Genesis's “Firth of Fifth” (1973), and Pink Floyd's “Wish You Were Here” (1975). The chapter looks at pieces that trace a chronological line from early (1971) to late (1975) in progressive rock's “classic” period. This allows one to witness the manner in which progressive rock gradually developed away from the assumptions which had dominated the psychedelic era. However, the chapter attempts to choose pieces that, despite their important surface differences, contain deeper similarities which seem to characterize progressive rock both as a musical style and as a philosophical statement of the counterculture and its post-hippie extension. The structural outlines of all four pieces reveal a tension between a persistent avoidance of goal-oriented harmonies and a persistent embrace of goal-oriented forms.

Keywords:   progressive rock, Tarkus, Close to the Edge, Firth of Fifth, Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd, counterculture, forms, harmonies

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