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Tales from Topographic Oceans: metalanguage in progressive rock analysis

Grant number: 16/16105-4
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): November 01, 2016
Effective date (End): October 31, 2017
Field of knowledge:Linguistics, Literature and Arts - Arts - Music
Principal Investigator:Mauricio Funcia de Bonis
Grantee:Guilherme Afonso dos Santos
Host Institution: Instituto de Artes (IA). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de São Paulo. São Paulo , SP, Brazil


This research seeks to analyze the parameters that set forth the composition and structure of the piece Tales from Topographic Oceans, which is divided into four movements, written in 1973 and since performed by the progressive rock band Yes. This album, as much as a great part of the repertoire produced under the definition of progressive rock, is known by its musical complexity, congregation of elements suitable to other languages beyond rock - such as jazz or classical music - and by its ability to expand simple forms, such as songs. This junction of styles is due to mechanisms that are applied to each song, but are also found in many different songs by different groups that belong to progressive rock, this means, they are inherent to the language. As a counterpoint to the style, we have the formal development of classical music with regards to form expansion. Composers such as J. S. Bach, C. P. E. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, Stravinsky and others, have been pushed by an attempt of maintaining the interest of the listeners during the presentations of their work so to extend their pieces through the development of the existent material or by adding contrasting parts or sections with materials that are distinct from the ones used in the beginning of their works, notably longer than a great deal of the repertoire from popular music being played in the sixties before the formation of progressive rock. According to progressive rock composers, including the members of Yes, the same principle of song expansion is applied in the album Tales from Topographic Oceans, a work accounting for eighty minutes of music. Our objective is to investigate this premise through metalanguage. This research also aims to demonstrate in which way and up to what point the work inserts itself inside the paradigms of the style of which it is an integral part, a style that seeks to congregate elements of different languages, create connections between musical aspects and the lyrics, apart from other characteristics. (AU)

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