How To Make Awesome Prog Rock Music
Looking to start up a new band?
Creating a rock band is a very popular way to make music and a brilliant pastime for anyone who wants an excuse to hang out with their friends and create something that everyone can appreciate in the process. And if you're really good, who knows? You could end up playing some big gigs and even making some money out of your hobby!
Making just a regular rock band though is somewhat clichéd and if you're just going to do covers of Metallica or the Beatles then you won't really stand-out that much. If you want to get attention and be taken seriously then you need to make your own music, and you need to make something a little different from every other band on your block. If you have an ambitious attitude then, and if you want to make something epic, why not consider creating a prog band?
A What Band?
For the uninitiated Prog Rock is 'progressive rock' which is basically categorised as rock that's experimental and ambitious in its scope. These are tracks that often have lyrics (or will have occasional vocals) and that last for around 5-20 minutes going through multiple key changes and changes of time signature in the process. The music often involves unusual instruments or large orchestral scores, but is generally still 'rock'.
If you think this sounds at all interesting then you should start out by doing your homework. Try listening to music like Yes, The Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater, (early) Genesis, Electric Light Orchestra, Nightwish and even Radiohead for an idea of the kind of thing that classifies as 'prog'. You'll notice that there's a lot of variation between these bands, so there's plenty of scope here for creating the kind of music you'll enjoy.
Now to get started you are going to need to select your sound, and you'll need to choose your instruments. In prog there are no real rules, but bear in mind this is still a rock genre so you'll probably want a vocalist, a lead and rhythm guitar, bass and drums. Keyboards are also popular in prog rock, and are very versatile whether you want to include lots of roaring keyboard solos in the style of Rick Wakeman or just use it to create sound effects for a more electric or epic feel.
Electronic effects are general very popular in even though they' aren't compulsory. If you want to create something unique then you can look into creating effects with your pedal and amp too (come up with something unique for your guitar) and if you want to get creative you can add things like a talkbox. Meanwhile, try adding instruments you might not normally expect to find in a rock band - whether that's a ukulele, an Indian banjo or a harmonica. This will help you to come up with an interesting sound and to do something different and you know... progressive.
Writing Your Music
Now your whole approach to writing prog music is likely to be different to the way you might write a regular piece of pop or rock. The idea here is that you don't want to be too 'commercial' so forget focussing on having a chorus with a hook and a regular chorus,/verse structure. Instead you're looking for 'linear progression' meaning that you'll probably start with a riff or hook you like and then build on it/develop it throughout your lengthy running time. Don't be afraid to experiment by jamming a little to try different ideas. A great example of a piece of music that has a linear structure is Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6 by Liszt. Turn that into rock and you have a piece of prog.
Likewise you should forget catchy lyrics and rhymes. You can experiment with vocals just the way you might experiment with your melodies (check out the spoken sections that the Moody Blues use). Importantly though you should write the music first rather than writing the tune around the words - this is the technique that ELO writer Jeff Lynne used and it resulted in much more interesting music.
Most of all though, experiment and have fun! This is perhaps the most flexible of music genres so make the most of the freedom.
About the Author:
Jake Tyler is a young enterpreneuer and has started his own music company. His love for music is very vivid and wants to make a mark in the field of rock music. He depends on the services of musiciansuniverse.com.au for providing audio & sound amplifiers for the various shows his company organizes. Apart from being a music lover, he also likes blogging and spends whatever little time off from work writing articles on various subjects.
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