Progressive electronica

From Academic Kids

Progressive electronica (sometimes 'prog' or 'proggy') is a collection of electronic music genres which draw upon progressive music, generally, and include the sub-styles of progressive trance, progressive house, progressive techno and progressive breaks.

All dance music features drum beats that are favourable for DJs that like to beatmatch their records, as it allows them to mix two tunes together with an almost seamless sound to it. The changes and progressions in progressive dance music are relatively subtle. Unlike the obviousness of hard house or Hi-NRG, the peaks and troughs in a track tend to be less obvious. Layering different sound on top of each other and slowly bringing them in and out of the mix is a key idea behind the progressive movement. Progressive house, specifically, tends to explore the cutting-edge in electronic music and often contains precisely engineered sounds not heard from other styles of music.



Applying the philosophy of progressive music to electronic dance music, involves taking one particular sound, then, using synthesizers and sequencers, making slight changes to that sound. When applied to a particular style, the finished product is a stylised sound that appears to progress from one state to another.

When discussing progressive electronic styles, the term "progressive" typically refers to the progressive structure (that changes occur incrementally, as in the case of progressive house). The exception is progressive trance, since trance is typically progressive in structure already. Progressive trance usually refers to a type of trance music that's minimalistic and more beat and percussion centric.

Progressive styles

Since about 2000, progressive house and progressive trance have mostly converged, it's very difficult to differentiate one from another. While the faster (130-140bpm), more energetic records can continue to be classified as progressive trance, most producers from both styles has moved towards a softer, slower (110-130bpm) sound, and prefer to be classified as progressive house. Other styles include progressive tribal, progressive techno and dark house, but lines between all these styles are somewhat blurry.

Progressive trance

Progressive trance (sometimes melodic trance) is popular sub-genre in trance music. It has elements of fast techno music and ambient music. The basic formula of trance became even more focused on the anthemic qualities and melodies, moving away from predictable arppegiated analog synth patterns (aka acid synth lines). Acoustic elements and spacey pads became popular, compositions leaned towards incremental changes (aka progressive structures), sometimes composed in thirds (like Brian Transeau frequently does), buildups and breakdowns became more elaborate and intense. The sound became more and more ethereal and heavenly. This sound came to be known as epic trance (sometimes called melodic trance or anthem trance), and became the foundation of what the modern progressive trance sound is today.

The structure of progressive trance is different from a typical techno track. The introduction generally starts with slower ambient beats. Following this section is a "breakdown" and then the main melody. There are build-ups with faster beats, and the track usually concludes with an "outro" that typically slows down as the track ends, though it can be fast. Electronic effects and vocals are usually in both the intro and the coda.

Progressive trance became popular because of the build-ups of beats and sparing use of vocals. Phrases can be any multiple of 4 bars (4-8-12-16 etc.) in most typical progressive trance tracks. Phrases usually begin with the introduction of a new or different melody, or the introduction of hi-hats to the track. In progressive trance there may be four more simultaneous layers.

Known artists in this electronic music genre include James Holden, Luke Chable, Transa, 4Strings, DJs Sasha and John Digweed. Newer artists include Terje Bakke, The Last Atlant, Hydroid, Gerry Cueto.

Progressive breaks and progressive house

Progressive breaks artists include: Digital Witchcraft, Momu, Hybrid and progressive house artists include Leftfield, BT, Steve Porter, however the lines between these progressive styles and progressive trance are less pronounced now than they were originally.

Progressive house has its origins in Britain in the early 1990s, with the output of the Guerrilla record label and Leftfield's first singles (particularly "Song of Life") inspiring, according to various accounts, either Genesis P-Orridge of Throbbing Gristle fame or then Mixmag editor Dom Phillips to coin the term. In 1992, what was to be the first superclub, Renaissance threw open its doors in the small mining town of Mansfield, and its DJs - particularly Sasha and the then-unknown John Digweed - were instrumental in pushing the sound in its early days. The music itself consisted of the 4-to-floor beat of house music allied to deeper, dub-influenced basslines and a more melancholic, emotional edge. Often, the ethereal "swirly" textures of early trance could be heard in the mix, and various other elements from across the electronic spectrum. "Song of Life", for instance, has a trip-hoppy down-pitched breakbeat and a high-energy 303 riff at various stages.

The centre-of-gravity of the sound, so to speak, has shifted over the years. After the release of Transeau's debut album "Ima", for instance, the bulk of the style's records were in a more ethereal, melodic style. (That record was also an enormous influence on the nascent progressive trance sound.) Then, as trance became more and more popular and melodic, prog darkened and acted as a deliberately underground counterpoint, merging with tribal house to produce many very minimal percussive tracks as this decade kicked off. Modern progressive house tracks have innovative bass lines and strong closed atmospheric sounds. This particular style made the rise of a new sub genre, 'Dark House'. (It also marked the return to the sound of Sasha and Digweed, who had picked up and popularised the progressive trance sound in the interim.)

Progressive breaks is a relatively recent phenomenon, essentially growing out of nu-skool breaks and progressive house. It is mostly of a trancier feel, with plenty of atmospheric pads and melodies. Most artists working in the genre also work in its immediate relatives too, with only the likes of Hybrid really sticking to it consistently. That said, it is one of the more exciting developments on the progressive scene.

Psychedelic progressive (psy-progressive)

Psychedelic progressive is the progressive form of psychedelic trance. Some see it as the evolution of minimalist trance. Some of the most important artists are: Son Kite, Krueger & Coyle , Vibrasphere, Sensient and Krumelur. Contrary to mainstream progressive trance, psy-progressive is usually not as uplifting. It puts more focus on the sound production and not on melody. The structure is not well-defined as in most other styles of progressive trance.

Progressive electronica

Progressive electronica has recently become a term specific to the warmer, more hip hop influenced side of intelligent dance music, as exemplified by Luke Vibert and Boards of Canada.

Artists and labels

DJs who play progressive sounds include:

Progressive music producers:

Progressive record labels include:

Progressive House/Breaks Internet Radio

External links

Template:Electronic music infobox Template:Electronic music infobox


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