Negative vs. Positive Progressive Rock
by Mr. Secret I. Dentity

This was e-mailed to the GEPR by "Mr. Secret I. Dentity", who turned out to be an old friend from grade school. I said in my original introduction that "this guy is either a very astute observer of how things work in the world of progressive rock, or he's completely missed the point and hasn't got a clue about it. I've already made my choice ..." At least one GEPR reader took this as a serious essay on progressive rock. Let me be clear ... this is a humorous article, and is not supposed to be any great observation about progressive rock. Duh.

However, you'll note the guy makes some good points ...

Dear Mr. Trafton,

Recently, I was wandering lost through a labyrinth of web links and I accidently stumbled upon your web site. I was pleasantly surprised to find a web site that not only contained a wealth of knowledge about progressive music, but which also answered the age-old question "Who is Fred Trafton?".

However, after thinking a little bit about progressive music, I realized that there are only two types of progressive music that I am really familiar with: "Negative Progressive Music", and "Positive Progressive Music". But, in all of your myriad plethora of progressive music sub-genre listings, I did not see one mention of these two fundamental musical types. How un-encyclopedic can you get? This seemed like a glaring omission to me.

So, even though being single, a low pressure video game programming job , and a condo full of three year old gadgets screaming "upgrade me!" keeps me pretty busy these days, I thought it was important to take a few minutes of my time to explain "Negative Progressive Music" and "Positive Progressive Music", thereby adding my small microdrop of knowledge to the ocean of data that you are currently maintaining.

Negative Progressive Music works like this - you'll hear a song on the radio, and you immediately like it - you think "That's one of the catchiest tunes I've heard in years!", so first chance you get, you buy a copy (big mistake!). The second time you hear it, you still like it but somehow the song doesn't seem as fresh. The third time you hear it, you notice that it really is kind of a formula song. The fourth time, you notice that it actually is a very repetitive, formula song. The fifth time you hear it, you notice that it really is very similar to those other 39 songs that they are playing on the top 40 radio stations. The 10th-89th time you hear it (because they're playing it incessantly on the radio now and you can't change stations fast enough) you really begin to despise the song.

That's how Negative Progressive Music works - even though not one bit of the song's digital image is changing, every time you hear it, the song gets progressively worse, until finally,hearing the opening notes of the song is akin to the sound of fingernails scraping on a chalkboard.

Positive Progressive Music, of course, is just the opposite. You'll listen to a song only because they stuck it on a CD with some other music that you already like, and you're too lazy to hit the skip button and go around it. The first time you hear this song, you think "Oh, that's one of those mediocre songs that they use to fill up CD's." The second time you hear it, you notice there are some subtle things going on that you totally missed the first time. The third time, you notice even more details that you missed before. The fourth time you hear it you realize that the melody, while not immediately catchy, is growing on you.

The eighth time you hear it, you noticed that you are still finding new things to like about this song. The eleventh time you hear it, you begin to think that this could become one of your all time favorite tunes. The twentieth time you hear it, you get all excited about the song, so you grab your CD, rush over to a friend's house, throw it in their CD player, and say "Man, you GOTTA hear this!", and after you play it you ask your friend "Whadaya think?" and he says "I think that's one of those mediocre songs that they use to fill up CD's." and you say "WHAT? Are you DEAF???" and then...

But you get the idea. Positive Progressive music somehow gets better every single time you hear it.

That's really all I know about progressive music. But I'll keep poking around your website - maybe I'll learn a thing or two.

Thanks for listening,


Mr. Secret I. Dentity