A Progressive Rock Lexicon (or: How to Talk to a Prog Rocker)

In any field of endeavor, there is a certain language used.  One working in the legal field speaks of briefs, appeals, affidavits, and so on.  A football coach may speak of blocking schemes, blitzes, and pass routes.  And one who flies airplanes may speak of instrument flight rules, crosswind landings, air speed, and fuel mixture.


Alas, those that make and listen to music have their own language.  Of course, those of us involved with progressive rock, as listeners, musicians, producers, etc., usually look at the world a little bit differently.  As such, an alternate language has developed.


Thinking about this, I have come up with a list of a few terms to aid conversation between prog rockers, as well as to help those who would like to speak to us on our terms.  Of course, this list is by no means considered to be complete.  Fellow Progarchists and readers of this site, in the interest of smooth communications, you are not only welcome, but are encouraged to suggest additions.  So, without further adieu, and with tongue firmly planted in cheek, I present to you a brief glossary of progressive rock terms. 


Short song – a song under 10:00 minutes in length.


Unusual time signature – 4/4


Normal Time Signature – 7/4, 5/8, 7/8, etc.


Brick – a unit of measurement for determining thickness.


String Section – a group of musicians in an orchestra whose function it is to emulate a Mellotron.


Dancing – ??????


Pretentious (1) – a word used to describe the critics who accuse prog rockers of being pretentious.


Pretentious (2) – the lyrics from this guy:



Excess – ??????


Air Guitar – what rock fans play.


Air Keyboards – what progressive rock fans play.


Air Bass – Well, a lot of us play this too, especially those of us that are into Geddy Lee and Chris Squire.


Bass Guitar – a stringed instrument typically used in the melodic discourse of a progressive rock composition.  Occasionally used as part of the rhythm section.


Robert Moog – the greatest electrical engineer of all time.


Aaron Copland – a guy who used to write music for Emerson, Lake and Palmer.


Alberto Ginastera – See Copland, Aaron.


Female Prog Rocker – a woman that participates in progressive rock, either through listening or performing.  Most frequently found in Continental Europe, the U.K. and Scandinavian countries.  A North American variant of the species exists but is extremely rare.  Another related variant of the species is the prog rock spouse, defined as a wife dragged into the prog rock scene by an overzealous prog-rock loving husband. 


Consuming alcoholic beverages – rearranging your liver to the solid mental grace.


Seed drill – a tool for precisely positioning seeds in the soil, refined by a man who was preemptively named after the band Jethro Tull.


Composing – the art of multiple musicians in a band sitting around arguing for hours, sometimes very intensely, over whether the next bar is to be in F or F#.


Corporate Attorney – see video:



(it is rumored that they also did some prog rock in the 70’s)


6 thoughts on “A Progressive Rock Lexicon (or: How to Talk to a Prog Rocker)

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