As is well known, Progressive Rock (henceforth Prog) from the 1970s was heavily influenced by the tradition of European “art music.” Many Prog compositions draw more heavily upon musical forms associated with the classical style (such as binary, ternary, and sonata) than those associated with contemporary rock and popular music; and many are deeply influenced by the small- and large-scale tonal organization of art music. To this point, what has been lacking in literature on Prog is an approach to examining how Prog utilizes these forms and harmonic structures and what types of works the artists were producing with them.

This Independent Study offers one approach. In it, I develop three categories for the analysis of Prog: transcriptions, inspirations, and originals and show the utility of these through analysis of nine works. The pieces chosen for analysis come from five of the most genre defining Prog groups active in the 1970s, Genesis, Yes, Jethro Tull, King Crimson, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. The analyses are dedicated to explaining what each piece takes from its source material and/or the classical art music tradition and how these taken elements are adapted into the genre of rock.


Guez, Jonathan




Music Theory


Progressive Rock, Prog, Rock, Form, Harmony, Classical Tradition, Musical Analysis

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2021 Nathaniel J. Haines