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Analysing the Structure of “Progressive” Rock 1973 and Beyond: The Who, Pink Floyd, Yes and Genesis

CONROY, ISAAC,PAUL (2024) Analysing the Structure of “Progressive” Rock 1973 and Beyond: The Who, Pink Floyd, Yes and Genesis. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



1973 was an important year for the commercial success of the “progressive” rock album in the UK and overseas. Many of these works warrant analytical attention due to the artists’ application of large-scale structures within extended duration tracks and across the album as a whole: analogous to a cyclical symphony in multiple movements presenting a unified narrative.

This project therefore examines the formal features of four commercially successful British “concept” albums in depth from 1973: The Who’s Quadrophenia; Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon; Yes’ Tales from Topographic Oceans and Genesis’ Selling England by the Pound. In addition to these four, other albums by these artists are considered for formal comparison with examples spanning from 1965 to the end of the century. Prior to this undertaking, the cultural and commercial context which enabled the rise of the genre is considered with reference to key literature (Macan 1997; Lucky 1998; Stump 2010; Hegarty and Halliwell 2011; Weigel 2017; Moore and Martin 2019). This provides the necessary context for the analytical study.

The analytical methodology involves transcriptions and tables demonstrating structure. Engagement with large-scale Formenlehre (particularly sonata form) is necessary to portray the art-music influences in combination with song-form-based structures. Overall, I argue that the different techniques of large-scale form within the corpus clearly demonstrate the importance of structural listening for understanding the musical construction of material from the "progressive rock” canon.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Progressive Rock, Popular Music Analysis, Prog Rock, 1970s Music, 1973 Music, British Popular Music
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Music, Department of
Thesis Date:2024
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:06 Jun 2024 09:49

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