Tag Archives: Art rock

The Psychedelic Experiment – Art Rock – Emerson Lake & Palmer “The Three Fates”

27 Apr

Totally Arting It Up

Psychedelic music inspired many talented performers to explore rock n’ roll’s endless possibilities. At its root, psychedelic music is experimental, and like any pioneering scientific discoveries, it engenders more research and, well, experimenting. While psychedelic music has numerous sub-genres, even more striking is the amount of genre manipulation that happened after the wave of psychedelia came to a near-end in the late 1960’s. I say near-end because psychedelic music never truly ended. But since it experienced a wave of popularity in the mid-late 60’s, it naturally became less popular. I know that I called this section the 60’s psychedelic experiment, but it is equally important to describe music that was created directly after the initial boom. I’m talking about the early 1970’s, which saw the rise of progressive rock and art rock, two genres that owe their creation to the success of psychedelic music. In a sense, art and progressive rock are both the complex expansion of psychedelic experimentation featuring music that concentrates on intricate and lengthy melodies combined with either a classical musical approach or more modern representation.

How did that paragraph go down? Smoothly, I hope. Seriously, the progression of Rock music is sometimes bulky, and this time period saw several changes to how rock would evolve. Art and progressive rock evolved from psychedelic music. Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP) was composed for Keith Emerson, from the psychedelic rock band The Nice, Greg Lake, from the late 60’s prog-rock band King Crimson, and drummer Carl Palmer who played in the Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Atomic Rooster. These three musicians composed one of the first Art Rock supergroups and their music reached for the classical portion of Art rock.

In my opinion, art and progressive rock are practically the same term. But, one of the key differences is progressive rock tends to focus more on guitars. As evidenced by the piece I am including, ELP swayed more towards piano and keyboards.

“The Three Fates” is the first song off of side two of their debut eponymous album. It is split up into three parts, each named for a mythical figure (Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos). The piano playing is extraordinary. Keith Emerson is skillful beyond words. The ode to classical music is clear and this classifies the music as 1970 Art rock. So, you may be thinking, how does this apply to psychedelic music? Travel to around 5:30 in the song. Okay, this is Jazz-rock. But, wait, what are all of the background sounds and the musical layering and strange notation. Yes, this is psychedelic music of the 1960’s kicked up a notch to fit into the genres of Jazz and Classical. It is Art rock, and a perfect example of the evolution of psychedelic music.

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