Composition And Experimentation In British Rock 1967-1976

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Workshop: Compositional Technique in Progressive Rock

Chris Cutler (Henry Cow), drums
Hugh Hopper (Soft Machine), electric bass
Tony Pagliuca (ex Orme), keyboards


Evasioni Totali (Le Orme) - (13.3 Mb - ca. 33' 56K; ca. 4' DSL)

Mousetrap (Soft Machine) - (11,2 Mb - ca. 30' 56K; ca. 4' DSL)
Finale - (11,7 Mb - ca. 29' 56K; ca. 4' DSL)


This session was intended as a point of communication between musicians, scholars and the public. The event focused on the questions investigated during the conference:

- Was the piece planned out in general and created later during performance? What was the first impulse (a concept, a test, a song, a riff…)? What part did the written music play? Was the structure (rhythmic, harmonic, formal) proposed by one of the group and then memorized and shared? What part did improvisation play during the rehearsal phase?

- What role did technology play during the creation, recording and performance of the music? Was there a relationship with contemporary electronic music (Stockhausen, Berio, etc.)? Which were the electronic techniques most utilized? What part did the technology of studio play (documentation, rearrangement, composition)?

- Can one speak of compositional styles of the so called “progressive rock” or did each group represent its own sound world? Within a single group, was there a common basis in the method of composition?

- What role did sung text play? What degree of independence did the music have with respect to the text? What were the models that were referred to (American or 20th Century European song, folk song, baroque aria, the Lied, the chorale, avant-garde music and theatre)?

- Did the concert experience have an influence on the creative process that carried over into the recording studio?

- What role did artists from other disciplines play: William Burroughs, Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol?

These questions were discussed with the three guest musicians. During the workshop, they performed some pieces exemplary of the original style of progressive rock as well as new pieces composed especially for this occasion.

(* Live recordings by Roberto Zoppi and Alessandro Bratus)