Music Theory Online

A Journal of Criticism, Commentary, Research, and Scholarship


Volume 7, Number 6, December 2001
Copyright 2001 Society for Music Theory

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New Books


Holm-Hudson, Kevin. Progressive Rock Reconsidered. Routledge Press.

Holm-Hudson, Kevin. Progressive Rock Reconsidered. Routledge Press.

Progressive Rock Reconsidered

Edited by Kevin Holm-Hudson, University of Kentucky School of Music. Published by Routledge, 2001 (paperback ISBN 0-8153-3715-9, $24.95; also available in hardcover with library binding)

From 1969 to 1977, progressive rock--the self-consciously complex rock music characterized by unusual time signatures, flashy virtuosity, and fantastic lyrics--dominated FM radio and rock album charts. Epitomizing a near total opposition to the accepted rock ethos up to that point (blues-based songs, working-class social status, Dionysian values), progressive rock was quickly condemned by most rock critics even as its popularity soared. The rise of punk in the later '70s further made the extravagances and high culture pretensions of progressive rock an easy target; since then, "prog" rock has been treated as little more than a symbol of '70s excess. Through a collection of essays that closely examine the music, lyrics, and cultural contexts of this style, "Progressive Rock Reconsidered" challenges that sentiment and brings a much-needed critical focus to a much-misunderstood musical style.

"Progressive Rock Reconsidered" brings together the analyses of scholars in fields as diverse as music theory, musicology, gender studies, sociology, and religious studies to present the first interdisciplinary study devoted to this important subgenre of rock. Utilizing both historical and critical analyses, the discussion moves from the original progressive bands of the '70s to contemporary bands who are again challenging the stripped-down aesthetic of rock music with a sophistication that derives from foundational groups such as Yes and Pink Floyd.

Kevin Holm-Hudson is an assistant professor of music theory at the University of Kentucky. He has also taught music theory at Syracuse University, the University of Illinois, and at Northwestern University. His research interests include American twentieth-century experimental music and analysis of popular music; he has presented papers on these topics for the Society for Music Theory, (Sonneck) Society for American Music, and the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. He is also the author of articles published in Leonardo Music Journal, National Association of Schools of Music Proceedings, and Popular Music and Society.

Progressive Rock Reconsidered is available online through and Barnes & Noble, as well as at better bookstores. For more information contact Kevin Holm-Hudson at:

Kevin Holm-Hudson
Assistant Professor of Music Theory
University of Kentucky
105 Fine Arts Building
Lexington, KY 40506-0022

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prepared by
Rusty Jones, editorial assistant
Updated 14 November 2002