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Thread: Amount of All-Instrumental vs Vocal Prog that you listen to?

  1. #26
    The main reason I prefer instrumental prog to vocal isn’t necessarily a preference for vocal music, more because of an overall tendency (especially with newer bands) to skimp on the vocal aspect of their music. One too many prog bands seems to think hitting the right notes is all you need for good singing, overlooking important techniques such as timbre and vocal expression, making their singing a chore to listen to even if they aren’t off-key (and some times they can’t even manage that). Lyrics are frequently glossed-over as well. It helps to sing something that the singer has an emotional connection with (yes, Yes’ lyrics tended to be meaningless doggerel, but Jon Anderson had a way of selling it that sounded convincing. Most singers aren’t that talented).
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  2. #27
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    I don't listen to music for any one instrument - be it voice, guitar, keys, sax, whatever. The inclusion (or exclusion) of any one "voice" is irrelevant.
    Prog's Not Dead

  3. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    The main reason I prefer instrumental prog to vocal isn’t necessarily a preference for vocal music, more because of an overall tendency (especially with newer bands) to skimp on the vocal aspect of their music. One too many prog bands seems to think hitting the right notes is all you need for good singing, overlooking important techniques such as timbre and vocal expression, making their singing a chore to listen to even if they aren’t off-key (and some times they can’t even manage that). Lyrics are frequently glossed-over as well. It helps to sing something that the singer has an emotional connection with (yes, Yes’ lyrics tended to be meaningless doggerel, but Jon Anderson had a way of selling it that sounded convincing. Most singers aren’t that talented).
    The lack of quality vocals in modern Prog is a well-established fact. That doesn't mean there aren't any solid singers out there - it's just getting harder to find them in our genre. (Actually thinking that the women have been doing better than the men in the aggregate.)
    Prog's Not Dead

  4. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by miamiscot View Post
    The lack of quality vocals in modern Prog is a well-established fact. That doesn't mean there aren't any solid singers out there - it's just getting harder to find them in our genre. (Actually thinking that the women have been doing better than the men in the aggregate.)
    It’s always been that way. Mainly because even now, women have to work twice as hard as men just to get noticed, and it’s doubly true of prog. So if you have a woman fronting a prog band, she has to be good.
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  5. #30
    This is why 3rDegree is so freakin' awesome; they have a really great singer who sounds like no one else. It takes several plays to get all the stuff shifting subtly in their songs but once you do, you have a lifelong musical treasure to enjoy.
    Quote Originally Posted by miamiscot View Post
    The lack of quality vocals in modern Prog is a well-established fact. That doesn't mean there aren't any solid singers out there - it's just getting harder to find them in our genre. (Actually thinking that the women have been doing better than the men in the aggregate.)

  6. #31
    Member wiz_d_kidd's Avatar
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    I'm in the camp of 99% instrumental, 1% vocal.

    I find it difficult to tolerate vocal performances of so-so vocalists. Apparently, anyone who can sing Happy Birthday now qualifies as a vocalist. And they think that tromping though a weird sequence of notes completely unrelated to the key & chord structure of the music makes them "artists". And moreover, they think that adding annoying runs everywhere makes them a "good artist". It ain't so. And the overly emotive, whining deliveries just makes me wanna puke.

    I prefer to let the music tell the story, like an abstract painting, rather than a vocalist singing... "this is a painting of a bowl of fruit, la di dah" to convey the literal message.

  7. #32
    Member Mikhael's Avatar
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    Of the prog I listen to, probably 75% for vocals (but there are usually huge instrumental passages in those). But I listen to a lot of fusion too, which is about 99% instrumental. Mostly, I like music that takes me on a journey.
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  8. #33
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    If I'm kicking back smoking my pipe and reading I prefer listening to instrumental music.

  9. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiz_d_kidd View Post
    I'm in the camp of 99% instrumental, 1% vocal.

    I find it difficult to tolerate vocal performances of so-so vocalists. Apparently, anyone who can sing Happy Birthday now qualifies as a vocalist. And they think that tromping though a weird sequence of notes completely unrelated to the key & chord structure of the music makes them "artists". And moreover, they think that adding annoying runs everywhere makes them a "good artist". It ain't so. And the overly emotive, whining deliveries just makes me wanna puke.

    I prefer to let the music tell the story, like an abstract painting, rather than a vocalist singing... "this is a painting of a bowl of fruit, la di dah" to convey the literal message.
    I hear this. Years ago, around the turn of the century, when I dove back into prog in the deep end, I had a much larger tolerance for so-so vocals, as long as the music was good...not so much, any more. And the beauty of instrumental music, is you can let your imagination go wherever it takes you, when listening. But, if it's a really good vocalist and they write interesting lyrics, an example of which for me would be Echolyn, that is great too.

    neil

  10. #35
    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghostsofpompeii View Post
    If I'm kicking back smoking my pipe and reading I prefer listening to instrumental music.
    Likewise, or at the very least, vocals in a language I don't understand...transforming the voice into just another instrument.
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  11. #36
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    Mostly instrumental (perhaps 80%), but if a singer who has a good voice and knows how to use it should sneak in, it's okay.
    Interesting lyrics are rare, so in genereal I dont listen to them.

  12. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by arabicadabra View Post
    This is why 3rDegree is so freakin' awesome; they have a really great singer who sounds like no one else. It takes several plays to get all the stuff shifting subtly in their songs but once you do, you have a lifelong musical treasure to enjoy.
    You're too kind Greg.

  13. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by miamiscot View Post
    ...Actually thinking that the women have been doing better than the men in the aggregate.
    I agree. There are far more women vocalists that I listen to vs men, and I think they're doing a more respectable job (fewer unnecessary embellishments, singing melodies that could easily be replaced by an instrument and still sound good, expressive without being sappy).

    Nowadays, it seems that too many bands think that vocals are required, so someone (however incompetent) must sing. I was on Cruise to the Edge in 2014, and the host, Jon Kirkman, was holding a Q&A session with the Electric Asturias (an instrumental band), and he asked them "...So, you've chosen not to have a singer. How's that working out for you?" I was flabbergasted. Apparently, Mr. Kirkman is one of those who expects prog bands to sing, and doesn't really get the all-instrumental bands. That's kinda sad...

  14. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by wiz_d_kidd View Post
    I agree. There are far more women vocalists that I listen to vs men, and I think they're doing a more respectable job (fewer unnecessary embellishments, singing melodies that could easily be replaced by an instrument and still sound good, expressive without being sappy).

    Nowadays, it seems that too many bands think that vocals are required, so someone (however incompetent) must sing. I was on Cruise to the Edge in 2014, and the host, Jon Kirkman, was holding a Q&A session with the Electric Asturias (an instrumental band), and he asked them "...So, you've chosen not to have a singer. How's that working out for you?" I was flabbergasted. Apparently, Mr. Kirkman is one of those who expects prog bands to sing, and doesn't really get the all-instrumental bands. That's kinda sad...
    I suppose because more people are interested in music that has vocals. I remember a friend of mine had a small record-label, distribution-service and webshop and she considered vocals to be instrumental for more sales. They had one instrumental group (Anomaly), which only made one album. I'm not sure, but I think the label wanted them to have vocals on the next album, to make it sell better.

  15. #40
    Subterranean Tapir Hobo Chang Ba's Avatar
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    I'm heavily skewed towards the instrumental...probably like 80-85%, even higher with new bands. The problem for me is (that it seems a popular trend), that when the vocals of a song come around, the music takes a backseat and the instruments only get to 'sing' when the vocalist isn't. If vocals need to be present, I much prefer wordless vocalizations or gibberish language to trying to convey a message (it seems less likely the music is the second option in a situation like this).



    Quote Originally Posted by boilk View Post
    I have noticed in the last couple of years, that I am listening to a lot of all-instrumental progressive music. It hasn't been intentional (I still like both), but it just seems that a large majority of new releases that attract my attention, don't have vocals. I'd say that at least 2/3 of the stuff I buy now-a-days is vocal-free. Looking at my personal top 10 list of 2018, 6 out of 10 had no vocals and and two others (All Traps on Earth and Vak) had only fairly sparse wordless vocals. Perhaps in the era of bandcamp and home recording, it has become easier to make whatever music bands want to make, without worrying about 'needing' a vocalist. Or perhaps more bands are deciding that if they can't find a good vocalist, better to go without vocals, at all.

    Just curious about how much instrumental vs. vocal prog music y'all listen to, what attracts you to each, and if you do prefer/don't like one over the other, why?

    neil
    I often wonder how many bands just add vocals because they think vocals are needed (either to have the opportunity to 'make it' or some other antiquated reason) and now that if they are just a 'basement' band they are more inclined to do what they want without these other considerations.
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  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hobo Chang Ba View Post
    I'm heavily skewed towards the instrumental...probably like 80-85%, even higher with new bands. The problem for me is (that it seems a popular trend), that when the vocals of a song come around, the music takes a backseat and the instruments only get to 'sing' when the vocalist isn't. If vocals need to be present, I much prefer wordless vocalizations or gibberish language to trying to convey a message (it seems less likely the music is the second option in a situation like this).





    I often wonder how many bands just add vocals because they think vocals are needed (either to have the opportunity to 'make it' or some other antiquated reason) and now that if they are just a 'basement' band they are more inclined to do what they want without these other considerations.
    It might be a lot easier to compose something with vocals vs an all-instrumental piece. During the vocal passages, the band can slink to the background and just strum chords or do some simple vamping. That doesn't take a lot of skillful composition to pull off. And since many of today's vocalists ramble through a run-laden melody completely unrelated to the background music, that doesn't take much skill either.

    Composing a full instrumental piece, or incorporating vocals as if they are another instrument, in tune and playing with the rest of the band -- that takes some skill. YES, back in their heyday, were masterful at this. The band didn't back off on their instrumental prowess just because Jon Anderson started singing, and when he did, his voice was just another instrument in the band. Sure, he had some solos just like everyone else, but all other times they played (and sang) as ONE.

    A touchstone for me, when listening to bands with vocals, is to imagine the vocalist replaced with a violin, or keyboard, or guitar playing the exact same melody, including runs, note for note. If it doesn't sound like it "belongs", then they're not doing it right.

  17. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiz_d_kidd View Post
    It might be a lot easier to compose something with vocals vs an all-instrumental piece. During the vocal passages, the band can slink to the background and just strum chords or do some simple vamping. That doesn't take a lot of skillful composition to pull off. And since many of today's vocalists ramble through a run-laden melody completely unrelated to the background music, that doesn't take much skill either.
    I actually find it harder to compose songs for vocals; I think the reason is that then, I have to leave space and room for the vocals and I find it easier to just write riffs and passages that stand on their own.

    neil

  18. #43
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    I listen to fusion and jazz more than I listen to prog, which I listen to more than pop. I listen to a fair amount of Brazilian music too and the majority of that has vocals. So I don't know, in general I'd guess about 25% of what I listen to has vocals. The music I write is all instrumental, though there was a time when I wrote music with vocals. It's probably because I can't sing and my lyrics were horrible that I gravitated to writing instrumental music. That said, I love great singers and vocal harmonies, especially if the music is interesting.

  19. #44
    When was the last time a progressive instrumental music album was on any kind of music charts?
    I remember "Blow by Blow" being a huge selling album. Gabriel's "Passion" comes to mind as well.

  20. #45
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    I can't listen to just instrumental music, although I have no problem with one long instrumental song or medley within an album. I just don't have the attention span and like the added element of words and vocals. There have been some new prog bands I really wanted to like, but then the vocalist starts singing and it's over for me.
    Being a songwriter, when I listen to just instrumental music, I can often hear a melody and words in my head that I think would fit in the song and it drives me crazy.
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  21. #46
    50/50 for me. The voice is simply another instrument to listen too. Poor lyrical content rather than vocal tone is a turn off to me. Of course if one sounds vocally like Yoko Ono that CD goes in the garbage.

  22. #47
    Subterranean Tapir Hobo Chang Ba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiz_d_kidd View Post
    It might be a lot easier to compose something with vocals vs an all-instrumental piece. During the vocal passages, the band can slink to the background and just strum chords or do some simple vamping. That doesn't take a lot of skillful composition to pull off. And since many of today's vocalists ramble through a run-laden melody completely unrelated to the background music, that doesn't take much skill either.

    Composing a full instrumental piece, or incorporating vocals as if they are another instrument, in tune and playing with the rest of the band -- that takes some skill. YES, back in their heyday, were masterful at this. The band didn't back off on their instrumental prowess just because Jon Anderson started singing, and when he did, his voice was just another instrument in the band. Sure, he had some solos just like everyone else, but all other times they played (and sang) as ONE.

    A touchstone for me, when listening to bands with vocals, is to imagine the vocalist replaced with a violin, or keyboard, or guitar playing the exact same melody, including runs, note for note. If it doesn't sound like it "belongs", then they're not doing it right.
    That is certainly possible, and if true makes sense with my tastes.

    I also do that last sentence, except for me, if I can easily replace the vocal line with a violin/trumpet/zither/etc then I'm even more convinced the vocals don't belong for any 'real' reason.
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  23. #48
    Member wiz_d_kidd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hobo Chang Ba View Post
    That is certainly possible, and if true makes sense with my tastes.

    I also do that last sentence, except for me, if I can easily replace the vocal line with a violin/trumpet/zither/etc then I'm even more convinced the vocals don't belong for any 'real' reason.
    Except that when done skillfully, the voice becomes an instrument with an even greater range of expression than a violin/trumpet/zither etc. But most singers can't pull that off.

  24. #49
    62% vocal and 38% instrumental.

  25. #50
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    Likely only about 10% instrumental made up of guitar greats like Satriani etc, Ambient/Electronic like Vangelis etc, jazz rock like Colosseum II/Bruford etc.

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