A many-headed beast: progressive rock as European meta-genre

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There has been a marked resurgence of interest in progressive rock music both commercially and critically, with a number of articles and books now reassessing its styles, meanings, politics and appeal. Despite this, there has been a tendency to define progressive rock through a ‘symphonic orthodoxy’ which preferences a limited, albeit highly successful, number of British groups operating in a relatively narrow sonic landscape. This article questions that orthodoxy by drawing on the lay definitions and understandings of fans to extend the definitions and geographies of progressive rock, and to characterise it as a European meta-genre. It examines the meta-genre’s formative years at the beginning of the 1970s, and argues that progressive rock was inspired by the explorations of a European youth counterculture whose music was influenced by local socio-political and economic contexts, as well as by the music and attitudes of the American counterculture and of European Romanticism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-436
JournalPopular Music
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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