Prog rock is a genre that is more accurately defined by its length than the words “progressive,” and “rock” which combined to form the genre title. Artists that were instrumental in defining what we now know as progressive rock include Yes, and Rush. Despite their short names, their musical body of work couldn’t be more rich and vibrant.
It is hard to say what exactly makes this type of music progressive. It doesn’t sound much different than the other rock music going on at the time, other than that it is longer. The average rock song is anywhere from 3 to 4 minutes whereas the average prog rock song can go from between 8 to 12 minutes, and in some cases much longer. Some artists have been known to release albums that have one song taking up the entirety of a 60 minute album, though those are obviously in the minority. Extended solos, and what has sometimes been colloquially dubbed as “guitar wanking” are the chief elements that make up the genre.
Songs can go on and on forever having huge dips and amazingly extended crescendos. What really sets this genre apart from rock that just happens to be long though, is the fact that the musicians are usually more technically gifted. A typical prog rock show is just as much an entertaining musical event as it is a showcase of the skill of a musician. Though the musical quality is important in prog as it is with every other genre, prog is specifically well known for artists being more concerned with showing off their virtuosity at their instrument than they are at making a concise song, which is what can often lead to the extended song length in most cases.