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

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

    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

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    I prefer instrumental prog and so mostly listen to Mike Oldfield, Tangerine Dream, and similar, and the mostly instrumental Camel albums.

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    Member Since: 3/27/2002 MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER's Avatar
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    Back in the 70s the ratio was about 90% vocal to 10% instrumental

    now it is the opposite. My tolerance for vague, unrelatable lyrics and mediocre singers is next to nil. That's probably why I have been tending to favor Jazz Rock Prog over Symph Rock Prog for the past 30 years
    Why is it whenever someone mentions an artist that was clearly progressive (yet not the Symph weenie definition of Prog) do certain people feel compelled to snort "thats not Prog" like a whiny 5th grader?

  4. #4
    Member bill g's Avatar
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    Probably 60-70% instrumental. Though great music is great music to me regardless of vocal or instrumental. But as a rule, it's instrumental. Even with bands that feature vocals, like Genesis, it's typically the instrumental sections that are my favorite parts. Occasionally, there'll be an artist with such a great vocalist that I really enjoy the vocal parts such as Big Big Train, whose music tends to pull on my heartstrings so to speak. Even then, the instrumental bits are my favorites. Thinking Plague is in their own category, the voice is like an instrument. But generally, more instrumental music such as Uzva, Tony Banks, Deluge Grander, Anthony Phillips, Kenso, etc...

  5. #5
    Outraged bystander markwoll's Avatar
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    Prog ( in the wide definition that I use ) is a real love/hate world when it comes to vocals.
    When they are well integrated and not a dubious feature hanging off the side of a piece I love them.
    I can listen to instrumental music all day and not miss vocals.
    But.
    Sometimes there is nothing better than being able to sing along with an awesome song.
    Or just marvel in the abilities of a singer to project emotion and use their voice As an instrument.
    But there are bands that have great instrumentals and weak vocals that I pick and choose through.
    Nothing gets me to press the skip button faster than weak vocals.
    Probably a significant reason I dropped prog in the 80's. That was a period of much instrumental ( jazz rock fusion/experimental )
    Makes me leave shows too, and I love live music.
    So my collection probably is close to 50-50 artist wise but probably 70 (I) 30 (V) disc count.

    I will go out of my way for good vocals, but that is a very subjective measure that sometimes intersects with others opinion.
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
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  6. #6
    Hard to say with certainty. I guess I'd put it about 50/50, though it could be slanted a bit more toward instrumental music. That's a huge change for me since I got into rock in the mid to late 70s. It was basically all vocal music back then. But with Prog, it's always been the instrumental parts that interested me the most, so it was a natural progression toward instrumental Prog, once I got by some initial hurdles. And eventually all my writing shifted over to instrumental music and Eccentric Orbit was born. Now I'm back to writing vocal oriented classic rock, but my listening is still squarely in the Prog arena, and at least half of that is fully instrumental.

    Bill

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    Geriatric Anomaly progeezer's Avatar
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    I'm a singer. What do you think?

    Seriously, I probably do listen to more prog w/vocals, but overall more instrumental music, which is jazz, from Bill Evans to Yellowjackets.
    "My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician, and to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference"

    President Harry S. Truman

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    I listen to more all instrumental stuff than I used to, but I would say that the majority of what I listen to still has vocals.

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    Member Since: 3/27/2002 MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sputnik View Post
    eventually all my writing shifted over to instrumental music and Eccentric Orbit was born. Now I'm back to writing vocal oriented classic rock

    Bill
    NOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooo... say it aint so Bill. Eccentric Orbit albums are always in the top 10 Prog albums of the year they come out for me

    don't stop EO
    Why is it whenever someone mentions an artist that was clearly progressive (yet not the Symph weenie definition of Prog) do certain people feel compelled to snort "thats not Prog" like a whiny 5th grader?

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    Member adap2it's Avatar
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    I'm the opposite..my % of vocals / instrumental is probably 90% vocals...I, like most of what others call the best parts were the instrumentals...I find that vocals add identity to tunes, much easier to know the titles. However, I do feel that the increasing number of female singers, has something to with my change of direction. I feel that the female voice is much more suitable to prog than the male voice, just my opinion. [I]NP: David Kane Quartet / The Life and Times of Guy Friday-Instrumental
    Dave Sr.

    I prefer Nature to Human Nature

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    Member Kcrimso's Avatar
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    I think it is about 50-50 for me.
    "A waste of talent and electricity." John Peel on ELP

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    The lyrics and the voices are the reason I didn't (and still don't) listen to a lot of albums, for example, early Genesis. And even on the later Collins' albums I prefer the instrumental or largely instrumental tracks. Same with Yes, Camel, ELP, GG, Zappa and many others in fact. I just don't like prog music with singing. Which is why I avoid the pop/rock albums by, for example, Zappa and Oldfield.

  13. #13
    The % of purely instrumental music tends to increase as I grow older, probably because a greater part of my listening time is devoted to immersive experiences and disconnecting with mundane life, which is made easier by the absence of words.
    That being said, besides still loving proper songs when they are done well, I also like the fact that vocals bring a human warmth to instrumental music, even in small doses, even if the singing isn't remarkable. For instance, I like the fact that PF's Shine On You Crazy Diamond has two sung parts that are woven into the instrumental movements ; or the fact that Alco Frisbass' first album features a small (wordless) vocal appearance on one piece.

  14. #14
    Moderator Poisoned Youth's Avatar
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    I'd say for me it's 65% or higher instrumental vs. 35% vocal. This is largely because of the amount of jazz I listen to.

    It's hard for me to put this into words, but I wish I could increase the % of music with vocals because I develop more lasting connections with music that has identifiable vocals that drive the music as well as memorable melodies. What draws me back to vocal music is that I often have it running in my head long after.

    I put the new Muse album at the top of my 2018 list because the songs are very catchy after a few plays, I can sing along to it, and obviously melodic, and it's buried in keyboards. I often have a song from that album running through my head at some point in the day - the earworm.


    In contrast, a great deal of the instrumental music I enjoy is "in the moment", but large swaths of it is not very memorable. I'm usually drawn back by the intrigue to hear it and be in the moment again.

    I think because of the two experiences described above, I'm often drawn to jazz or other instrumental music that is repetitive, has a groove or very up front rhythm, as grooves tend to stick in my mind long after the music is over.
    WANTED: Sig-worthy quote.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER View Post
    NOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooo... say it aint so Bill. Eccentric Orbit albums are always in the top 10 Prog albums of the year they come out for me

    don't stop EO
    I appreciate that LP. Sadly, it is true. We just couldn't find a way to move forward, putting all that work into another CD that won't sell - or letting it die in obscurity in the tsunami of stuff on Bandcamp. Even doing more live performances wasn't really an option for us as we weren't exactly a "nimble" band, having lots of equipment, and there weren't ever a lot of gig opportunities for us anyway. EO worked in the days a band like ours could reasonably hope to sell 1,000-1,500 CDs, get some notoriety in the magazines and websites, and play a few gigs for good measure, maybe even an occasional festival. Those days are sadly gone and we just don't fit the model anymore, so it was time to call it quits having had a great and fun run at it.

    Bill

  16. #16
    I suppose most of the music I listen to contains vocals. Which doesn't always mean lyrics, like this:


  17. #17
    Member Phlakaton's Avatar
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    I'm always after music first so if vocals fit in or enhance - I love it - but I'd say probably 70% instrumental

  18. #18
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    I don't know that I have an answer as far as a ratio of what I listen to. But my favorite vocalists are usually not so refined and sort of raw or untrained. So, Neil Young, Roy Harper, Peter Hamill, Daevid Allen, etc. I think this gives me a certain amount of tolerance then for many vocalists. In fact, it's the ones that are too schooled and practiced and showman-like that I have the least tolerance for (I don't know how people can watch those talent shows where those singers over-emote and hold notes too long). So I can enjoy the vocals from bands like Anglagard, Pendragon, Aragon, lots of Italian prog, Cast, etc. I guess I can either take something from the vocals or sort of filter them out, if the music has something to offer.

    My son listens to Daniel Johnston though - that guy's voice freaks me out!

  19. #19
    Member Camelogue's Avatar
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    Dunno, whatever I put on

  20. #20
    It's funny, but I don't even know if an LP is fully instrumental, until somebody else mentions it. I mean I really don't care, good music with vocals, good music without it, who cares? That said, of course it is not the same, it is a whole different procedure, writing it, or even listening to it. But I am just searching for quality stuff wherever I can find it.

    Of course as a Prog teenager many years ago, I did have a marked preference for the instrumental parts. I would take a guess and say that we all had, or have one. It's part of the convinction - or illusion - that Prog Rock stems directly from Mahler symphonies or Prokovieff's suites.

  21. #21
    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    Just like I much prefer instrumental classical over opera, I prefer instrumental prog. Unfortunately, the vast majority of prog has vocals, unlike classical which is mostly instrumental.
    "Well my son, life is like a beanstalk, isn't it?"--Dalai Lama

  22. #22
    Probably 50 - 50, but of the vocal 50, 80 to 90 percent of that IS instrumental.

  23. #23
    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    Have no idea, really, but I'd guess 80-20 vocal.
    "If you want to see the true nature of humanity, just look at the internet."

    http://www.discogs.com/user/moecurlythanu/collection

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    Vocals saved me a lot of money.

  25. #25
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    Mostly depends on the vocals really, while I am most attracted to the sounds of great musicians, if the vocals are done well, I really don't mind them, an example, I love the old David Sancious stuff, Transformation is a masterpiece, and then he releases True Stories, with numerous vocal tracks, but they are sublime.
    The Dregs are mostly instrumental except for the Industry Standard album, but they work with that also.
    Even Mahavishnu Orch used some vocals on Visions of the Emerald beyond, one of my personal fav MO records.
    On the other hand, there are many examples of vocals forward bands and artists, that I prefer their instrumental offerings: IE, Tommy Bolin's Teaser lp, had a couple incredible instrumental songs, same for Dominic Troiano, as well as Les Dudek, Gino Vannelli, Toto, etc, etc, etc...

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