How to Enjoy Progressive Rock: 11 Steps

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How to Enjoy Progressive Rock: 11 Steps
How to Enjoy Progressive Rock: 11 Steps

Progressive rock, also known as "prog rock" or simply "prog", is an absolutely exceptional musical genre, and is considered by many to be the greatest genre that has ever existed in the history of sound recording. It is an extremely diverse type of music, of impressive complexity, and although it is widely underrated today, it has been composed by some of the most talented musicians the world has ever seen. Many of the songs of the progressive rock are considered like excellent demonstrations of an immense creativity in the instrumental, and in the musical composition. But, what is it that makes this genre so special, and how is it that one can find a taste for it and assimilate the immense number of bands that practice it? The trick is to start small and then venture into the world of progressive rock.


Enjoy Progressive Rock Step 1
Enjoy Progressive Rock Step 1

Step 1. Keep in mind that this genre can be a bit overwhelming for first-time listeners

However, don't let this discourage you! Importantly, many of the most famous artists in classic rock, such as The Beatles, Queen, and Led Zeppelin, dabbled in the genre repeatedly. Did you know that that famous Led Zeppelin song called “Stairway To Heaven” is actually a progressive rock song? If you like that song and other long classic rock pieces (such as “Won't Get Fooled Again” by The Who and “Tunnel Of Love” by Dire Straits), there is a very good chance that you can enjoy the music as well. of progressive rock. Pink Floyd, one of the most famous bands in music history, is also a progressive rock band, although most don't realize this at first. A little love for rock music, especially that of the 1960s and '70s, is necessary for one to initially appreciate progressive rock, and then proceed to enjoy it. It is a challenging genre that requires an open mind.

Enjoy Progressive Rock Step 2
Enjoy Progressive Rock Step 2

Step 2. Before listening to the music, learn and memorize the different styles (or subgenres) of progressive rock, as there are quite a few of them:

  • Symphonic. Highly influenced by classical music, and the songs contain complex structures.
  • Progressive folk. Contains elements of folk, blues, country and universal music.
  • Fusion (Crossover). More accessible, usually compatible with radio programming. It is a progressive rock that takes inspiration from classic rock and pop.
  • Psychedelic. It includes surreal and psychedelic guitars and keyboards, along with elements of science fiction.
  • Eclectic. Bands in this genre play a wide variety of progressive styles.
  • Progressive metal. A mix of progressive rock with heavy metal music.
  • Jazz fusion. A mixture of progressive rock with jazz music.
  • Neo-progressive rock. A more modern and usually more advanced progressive rock, mostly geared towards seasoned fans.
  • I remember that the number of styles does not end there. There are many more, too many to list them all, and there are still more different styles of progressive rock that are in development, as they are always mixing with each other to create more modern sounds. It can be difficult to rank some of the progressive rock bands, so sometimes it's best to just dive in and find out what's out there, rather than judging them on their genre.
Enjoy Progressive Rock Step 4
Enjoy Progressive Rock Step 4

Step 3. For bands, start by listening to Genesis

It is considered by lovers of progressive rock as the most influential group of this genre. They became a stadium-filling band during the 1980s, and throughout their careers they explored almost all existing styles of progressive rock. This group has won the hearts of music lovers, inside and outside the world of progressive rock.

  • To start listening to this timeless band, grab their three-disc compilation called “The Platinum Collection” and listen to them in order. The first album contains quite a bit of their pop songs, some of which you will admit to having heard on the radio, but it also contains progressive rock material, especially the two-part song titled “Home By The Sea,” which is a rock song. highly accessible and digestible progressive compared to others.
  • The second disc contains a good mix of progressive rock and pop music. This album in particular is great for starting to get a taste of the genre, as it is quite accessible and light, largely thanks to the warm vocals of Phil Collins.
  • The third disc turns out to be the most challenging, as it contains only nine songs from the Peter Gabriel era, with five of them bordering on eight minutes or more. Start by listening to the first two records a few times, then move on to the third. It can be overwhelming, due to the amount of talent on display and the length of the songs, especially on the third disc, but don't give up. These songs are very special to many progressive rock fans, and you will soon learn to love them.
  • Take note of the fast and complex keyboard solos composed by virtuoso Tony Banks, Steve Hackett's use of melodic guitar seeking to create atmosphere, the elaborate drumming of Phill Collins, the crafty bass lines by Mike Rutherford, and the dark and powerful voice of Peter Gabriel.
Enjoy Progressive Rock Step 5
Enjoy Progressive Rock Step 5

Step 4. Continue with the albums

Once you've absorbed and enjoyed the music on all three albums, it's time to listen to the albums.

  • When it comes to albums, "Duke" is a good starting point, as it contains the best combination of pop and progressive rock music produced by the band. "… And Then There Were Three …" is also a progressive rock album, both accessible and highly recommended.
  • Be sure to check out the classics "A Trick Of The Tail" and "Wind And Wuthering", as these two albums contain probably the most beloved pieces of the Collins era, and are also considered near-perfect recordings.
  • If these two albums are not to your liking, try listening to some of their latest recordings, such as "Invisible Touch" and "We Can't Dance", which are more compatible with radio programming, as well as they are easy to listen to. In these albums, the band show off their abilities for progressive rock, although these abilities are less evident.
  • Once you've absorbed the music of the Collins era, move on to the Gabriel-era albums as well. The five albums that make up this period ("Trespass", "Nursery Crime", "Foxtrot", "Selling England By The Pound" and "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway") are highly recommended, and also require multiple listens, since They offer a fair amount of complexity in the making.
  • The Genesis discography contains quite a bit of bonus material, which is worth checking out, as it includes live albums, B-sides, extended play songs, and two multi-disc archive collections.
Enjoy Progressive Rock Step 6
Enjoy Progressive Rock Step 6

Step 5. Meet other bands

After studying Genesis, whose albums, we hope, must have generated an interest and desire to listen to more progressive rock, try some other progressive rock groups from the same era. The genre is quite diverse and there are many different bands and styles to absorb. All of these bands come from the UK, and are considered the best of their genre. In addition, through their albums you can delve further into the genre:

  • And it is. Band similar to Genesis, which is famous for its highly complex guitar and keyboard solos. His songs are often sci-fi themes, typically composed of a variety of rhythms, and are eclectic, wacky, and highly entertaining. Recommended albums are "Fragile", "Close To The Edge" and "Going For The One".
  • Pink floyd. The most famous progressive rock band, and the most commercially successful. Pink Floyd's music is highly psychedelic and experimental, featuring multiple elements of universal music, as well as science fiction. Recommended albums are "Atom Heart Mother", "Dark Side Of The Moon" and "Wish You Were Here".
  • Camel. A symphonic / eclectic progressive rock group, which is famous for its sophisticated and relaxing guitar parts, melodic keyboards, and excellent mastery in creating exquisite instrumental songs. Recommended albums are "The Snow Goose", "Moon Madness" and "Breathless".
  • Gentle Giant. Although this band is easy to listen to, it is still a rewarding experience. Their songs create an interesting medieval atmosphere, through the use of brass, string, wind instruments and percussions, which achieve a great effect. The slightly shorter length of their songs makes them more palatable for new progressive rock fans. Recommended albums are "Three Friends", "Octopus" and "Free Hand".
  • Jethro tull. A progressive folk group, whose songs contain quite a lot of acoustic and folk elements. The brass instruments are played by the famous progressive musician and bandleader, Ian Anderson. Another characteristic of the group are the guitar lines that range from a blues style to the most heavy (heavy, in English). Recommended albums are "Aqualung", "The Minstrel In The Gallery" and "Songs From The Wood".
  • The Moody Blues. A fusion group that recorded mainly short and simple progressive rock songs. His music contains instrumentations influenced by classical music, and lyrics that range from the poetic to the moving, while remaining entertaining. This is an excellent band for newbies to progressive music, especially those who love the Collins era on Genesis. Recommended albums are "Days of Future Passed", "On The Threshold Of A Dream" and "A Question Of Balance".
  • Emerson, Lake & Palmer. A progressive rock band, a little harder to digest. ELP's (Emerson, Lake and Palmer) music focuses primarily on piano and organ solos performed by keyboardist Keith Emerson, and their songs are generally creatively chaotic and humorously above average. Recommended albums are "Emerson, Lake & Palmer", "Brain Salad Surgery", "Tarkus" and "Trilogy".
  • King crimson. Like ELP (Emerson, Lake, and Palmer), this band can be a bit more difficult to understand, but it is considered one of the most important progressive rock bands of all. The style they practice is primarily eclectic, sometimes with a jazzy vibe with heavy guitars, incorporating numerous instruments into the mix. As with ELP, their music gets generally quite chaotic (and sometimes downright scary), so proceed with caution. Recommended albums include "In The Court Of The Crimson King," "Lizard," and "Larks’ Tongues In Aspic. "
  • Renaissance. This is a symphonic progressive band, which mixes a style influenced by classical music, with folk and universal music, in addition to the angelic voice of Annie Haslam. Recommended albums are "Prologue", "Ashes Are Burning" and "Scheherazade And Other Stories".
  • Rush. A band with a rockier cut. The Canadian trio focuses on keyboards and other characteristics of progressive rock, and orients them towards a more rocky sound (although without ceasing to be progressive). They have quite long compositions (Cygnus X-1), and even a concept album (2112). You should mainly listen to the albums "2112", "Hemispheres" and "Moving Pictures".
Enjoy Progressive Rock Step 7
Enjoy Progressive Rock Step 7

Step 6. Listen to each album carefully

Make a note of the sections in each of the songs that you have chosen to listen to.

  • Close your eyes and try to imagine the scenarios that the songs seek to create, the themes they explore, and the meaning of the lyrics. Play these songs over and over again, so you really absorb what's going on, and compare each song to the other as you do this. If a certain song is difficult for you to understand, try another.
  • Remember to start with shorter songs, and if you can't digest the longer songs, some longer than 20 minutes, don't worry. These songs will pique your interest sooner or later, since once you appreciate the shorter songs, the longer ones will seem more tempting. The longest progressive rock songs are usually the best, such as the song “Supper’s Ready” by Genesis, “Close To The Edge” by Yes, and “Atom Heart Mother” by Pink Floyd. All of these recordings contain multiple sections, and are full of surprises at all times.
Have Computer Fun Step 33
Have Computer Fun Step 33

Step 7. Make sure you learn to appreciate concept albums

These types of albums represent a significant part of what progressive rock is, as these are albums that tell a story, and should be heard from beginning to end, so that they can be fully appreciated and enjoyed. Albums like "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" by Genesis, "The Snow Goose" by Camel, and "Days Of Future Passed" by The Moody Blues, stand out as clear examples of what a concept album in the rock genre is. progressive, as they all lead the listener on a magical adventure, and each song is necessary for the experience.

Enjoy Progressive Rock Step 11
Enjoy Progressive Rock Step 11

Step 8. Begin to understand the amount of talent it takes to compose this music

Progressive rock is a genre that requires total mastery of an instrument, and a great deal of knowledge in the art of songwriting, regardless of style. Composing, rehearsing and recording a progressive rock album takes a long time, and while not all of them go on to become classics, the most famous progressive rock albums, such as Genesis's “Selling England By The Pound”, “Close To The Edge”by Yes and“Dark Side Of The Moon”by Pink Floyd are considered landmarks of recorded music. If you play an instrument, you may want to try playing the genre, however, it may take a while until you adapt to a complex style, in case you are used to playing simpler songs on your instrument, but it is always worth learning to play progressively.

Enjoy Progressive Rock Step 9
Enjoy Progressive Rock Step 9

Step 9. Watch prog rock group performances on YouTube, so that you better appreciate the required talent

There are many videos of different bands of the genre playing live, and most will show you how they manage to make their music and project it to their audience. Be sure to take note of how the band works carefully together to perform their songs, including the wide range of musical techniques, the instruments they use, and the sense of unity. This can also help you delve into styles of progressive music that you find difficult to understand, as it can be interesting to observe the passion of the group and the personality they convey.

Enjoy Progressive Rock Step 10
Enjoy Progressive Rock Step 10

Step 10. Chat with other progressive rock fans online

It won't be difficult to find them if you do a search for progressive rock websites and forums on Google, or if you search for progressive rock pages and groups on Facebook. You can also join forums about a specific progressive rock band, as these usually have a section dedicated to other bands, where you can chat about a wide variety of progressive rock groups, and other genres as well.. There you can discuss your progress with progressive rock, review your favorite and least favorite album, and hear the thoughts, opinions, and album recommendations of people who have experience with the genre. You will discover that progressive rock fans are some of the kindest, most resourceful, and liberal people you can find on the Internet. Also, they will be happy to help you on the journey through progressive music.

Learn about the stories and discographies of each artist, the reviews of each album that users submit, the lists of the most acclaimed progressive rock albums by subgenre and country of origin, and anything else you want to know. With enough effort, interest, and conversations with other fans of the genre, you will soon be able to appreciate and explore this style of music in greater depth

Have Computer Fun Step 9
Have Computer Fun Step 9

Step 11. Remember that there are many, many progressive rock bands, and of all possible types

Don't feel like you have to go bankrupt for buying every album you find. Bands that we recommend you explore, and that are not within the golden age of progressive rock (late 60's to late 70's), include Porcupine Tree (psychedelic progressive metal), Marillion (neo-progressive rock, artistic rock), Anathema (symphonic progressive) and IQ (neo-progressive rock), among many others. Really, it all depends on you. There is a huge variety of options you can choose from in this genre, and the ProgArchives site can help you find what you are looking for. Pretty soon, you will have put together a vast collection of great progressive rock albums.


  • First of all, remember to keep listening to music of other genres. Don't limit yourself to just progressive rock. Listen to many styles of music and from different eras to keep a good balance. This is an indicator of a varied and appreciative taste in music.
  • Don't be put off by the idea of progressive rock bands producing pop albums. Although some progressive rock fans reject the idea of listening to more commercial albums, they are still worth listening to if you also like commercial music, and they could help you be more receptive to the newer bands.. The most important thing about progressive rock is not to judge albums by how progressive they sound, but by the quality of the music played.
  • Don't feel pressured to listen to the exact same bands as other progressive rock fans. This is such a diverse genre of music, probably the most diverse out there, and many fans listen to totally different bands and sub-genres. However, remember that all progressive rock fans are united in their love of music, regardless of personal preference.
  • Try to get as much material as possible from the bands you like. The discography of a band does not only include albums, since there are several live albums of progressive rock bands, such as "Seconds Out" by Genesis, "Yes songs" by Yes and "A Live Record" by Camel., which are considered fundamental albums by fans, plus there are lots of unreleased songs and other surprises waiting to be discovered.
  • If for some reason you find it difficult to browse the discography of a certain band, try to get a compilation instead, like “The Platinum Collection” by Genesis. The compilations represent excellent introductory material towards the bands that you may later move on to enjoy.
  • Pay no attention to people who say it takes drugs to compose and enjoy progressive rock. You don't need them. All that is required is an interest in creative music, an open mind towards a diverse and often challenging genre, and an imagination to understand the music and to compose it yourself (if you choose to do so).
  • One of the best ways for you to get into the progressive rock community is to attend a progressive rock festival, if one is organized in your area. Festivals usually take place on the weekend, with various bands playing each day. Even if the festival is not held locally, many fans are willing to travel long distances to attend, especially if the band they like is playing. Most festivals offer a mix of new artists, seasoned veterans, and some even host reunion performances. Other festivals focus on a single specific style of progressive rock, as in the case of progressive metal. Do your research and choose the festival where the artists you like the most will perform. The laid-back atmosphere of the festivals is a great way to experience progressive rock live, and also to interact with other fans to exchange ideas or learn more about the genre. Music distributors are generally available and ready to help you buy music from other bands that you might like. Quite often, performers interact with fans in music distribution areas, at meet-and-greets events, or simply while walking around the area at halftime of their performances.


  • Don't force yourself to listen to more progressive rock than you can digest. Take a break from time to time and make sure that this activity does not control everything you do, otherwise you will not be able to enjoy it. This is not a competition, and while you can take as long as you want to explore the genre, there is a very high chance that you will never fully hear it.
  • Make sure you don't buy the progressive rock albums that you have no idea about. Instead, always read the reviews and information about the album you want to buy, and determine whether or not you are going to enjoy it. Also, if you prefer, you can preview the music on YouTube or Spotify. Very few fans enjoy all subgenres of progressive music, so we strongly recommend that you make sure you know what you are buying before doing so.

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