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3- Genre and Influence: The Lineage of Timbre in Steven Wilson’s Progressive Rock - Ryan Blakeley, Eastman School of Music

4:00 PM, Friday 24 May 2019 (2 hours)
The solo output of contemporary progressive rock artist Steven Wilson is extremely eclectic, drawing from a broad range of influences including progressive rock, electronica, metal, pop, and classical music. These influences are reflected in Wilson’s diverse timbral palette through a combination of the instrumentation, production, and performance strategies he employs. The track “Ancestral” from his album Hand. Cannot. Erase. (2015) exemplifies this diversity of timbral influences, amalgamating sonic markers of numerous, seemingly disparate genres into a single track. Such a work provides an excellent opportunity to explore the process of musical influence from the perspective of timbre and interrogate how influences can shape and develop popular music genres.

In this paper I use spectrograms to conduct comparative analyses of timbre between “Ancestral” and representative tracks of some of Wilson’s key influences: progressive rock band King Crimson’s “The Court of the Crimson King” (1969), electronica duo Boards of Canada’s “An Eagle in Your Mind” (1998), and progressive death metal group Opeth’s “Blackwater Park” (2001). Through these analyses I demonstrate how specific applications of timbre can be viewed as indicators of influence and consider the implications for how popular music genres are defined and evolve. This paper ultimately seeks to examine the role of timbre in popular music genre classification and investigate the complex relationships between genre and influence.
Eastman School of Music
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