Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s ‘Toccata’ and the Cyborg Essence of Alberto Ginastera

Authored by: Kevin Holm-Hudson

The Routledge Companion to Popular Music Analysis

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138683112
eBook ISBN: 9781315544700
Adobe ISBN:


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The 1970s were a time of stylistic diversification in rock, when vestiges of 1960s ­experimentalism coincided with marketing fragmentation (the rise of Album-Oriented Radio or AOR and styles such as hard rock, singer-songwriters, country-rock, arena-rock, and so on). Among the styles that rose to prominence during this period was ‘progressive rock,’ a genre that fused rock’s energy and instrumentation with ‘classical’ (and pseudo-classical) styles, privileging virtuosity. For some bands (notably the Dutch band Ekseption), the ‘classical’ element involved wholesale appropriation, ‘covering’ familiar works from the Western art-music concert tradition in rock trappings. Other bands (such as Britain’s Gentle Giant) largely eschewed direct quotation, working instead with formal processes and stylistic tropes associated with ‘classical’ (and other) styles. Progressive rock bands were also known for creating concept albums—albums unified by a main narrative (Genesis’s The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, 1974), subject (Yes’s Tales from Topographic Oceans, 1973), or by unifying musical devices (Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick, 1972). In so doing, these bands were not only influenced by the massive critical and commercial success of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), but they were also encouraged by Romantic composers’ propensity for program music and unified song cycles.

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