"Close to the Edge,"
and the Boundaries of Style
"Progressive rock," "classical rock," "art rock," "symphonic rock" ‒ these labels have been used over the last twenty-five years by various authors to designate a style of popular music developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, primarily by British rock musicians. 1 During this time groups such as King Crimson, the Moody Blues, Procol Harum, the Nice (and later Emerson, Lake, and Palmer), Gentle Giant, Genesis, Yes, Jethro Tull, Van der Graaf Generator, and Deep Purple attempted to blend late-'60s and early-'70s rock and pop with elements drawn from the Western art-music tradition. 2 This attempt to develop a kind of "concert-hall rock" -- which was nevertheless still often performed in stadiums and arenas -- was the result of a tendency on the part of some rockers and their fans to view rock as "listening music" (as opposed to dance music), an aesthetic trend that Wilfrid Mellers3 attributes to the influence of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band of 1967. 4
The early progressive rockers were not the first to employ musical elements generally associated with the "classical" or art-music tradition in their arrangements. The mid-1960s British-invasion groups, in an apparent attempt to surpass one another in eclecticism, began to use instruments and stylistic elements drawn from both the British music-hall and European art-music traditions. Music-hall elements are present, for instance, in Peter and Gordons' Lady Godiva ( 1966) and Herman