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folk rock > 1970s > celtic rock

celtic rock:

stylistic origins: rock music / folk rock / electric folk / celtic music
cultural origins: 1970s, Celtic nations

The style of music is the hybrid of traditional Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, and Breton musical forms with rock music.

This has been achieved by the playing of traditional music, particularly ballads, jigs and reels with rock instrumentation; by the addition of traditional Celtic instruments, including the Celtic harp, tin whistle, uilleann pipes (or Irish Bagpipes), fiddle, bodhrán, accordion, concertina, melodeon, and bagpipes (Highland) to conventional rock formats; by the use of lyrics in Celtic languages and by the use of traditional rhythms and cadences in otherwise conventional rock music.

Just as the validity of the term Celtic in general and as a music label is disputed, the term Celtic rock cannot be taken to mean there was a unified Celtic musical culture between the Celtic nations. However, the term has remained useful as a means of describing the spread, adaptation and further development of the musical form in different but related contexts.

Flogging Molly – Drunken Lullabies; Dropkick Murphys – I’m Shipping Up To Boston; Horslips – King of the Faries:


experimental rock > 1970s > no wave

no wave:

stylistic origins: Punk rock /  avant-garde  / free jazz /  funk /  noise /  experimental rock
cultural origins: 1970s, New York City

No wave was a short-lived avant-garde scene that emerged in the late 1970s in downtown New York City. In partial reaction against punk rock’s recycling of traditionalist rock and roll clichés, no wave musicians instead experimented with noise, dissonance, and atonality in addition to a variety of non-rock genres, including free jazz and funk, while often reflecting an abrasive, confrontational and nihilistic worldview. In the later years of the scene, it adopted a more playful, danceable aesthetic inspired by disco, early hip-hop, and world music sources.

The term “no wave” was a pun based on the rejection of commercial new wave music. The movement would last a relatively short time but profoundly influenced the development of independent film, fashion, and visual art.

No wave musicians such as the Contortions, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Mars, DNA, Theoretical Girls and Rhys Chatham began experimenting with noise, dissonance, and atonality in addition to non-rock styles. The former four groups were included on the Brian Eno-produced No New York compilation, often considered the quintessential testament to the scene. The no wave-affiliated label ZE Records was founded in 1978, and would also produce acclaimed and influential compilations in subsequent years.

Mars – Helen Forsdale; Teenage Jesus And The Jerks – Burning Rubber; Sonic Youth – Cinderella’s Big Score:

no wave subgenres: dance-punk, noise rock, punk jazz


1975 > pagan rock

pagan rock:

stylistic origins: gothic rock / psychedelic folk / apocalyptic folk / ethereal wave / neo-medieval
cultural origins: 1975 in San Francisco Bay Area and 1989 in London, United Kingdom

Pagan rock is music created by (and in some cases for) adherents of one of the many Neopagan and occult traditions that emerged in the middle to late 20th century. In some cases, this definition is stretched to include bands embraced by modern Pagans and occult practitioners (Faith and The Muse for example). Bands in this genre will often use pagan and occult imagery and deal with pagan themes.

The term “Pagan rock” differentiates the genre from new-age music, and from the traditional folk music found at many Neopagan events and gatherings. While many bands under this loose category do incorporate rock and roll styles, one can also find bands inspired by gothic rock, medieval music, the darker elements of traditional and folk music, Celtic music, neofolk and neo-classical, darkwave, ethereal, ambient, industrial and experimental music.

In many ways, the label of “Pagan rock” carries with it the same complexities and problems as Christian rock. Like contemporary Christian music, it is more an umbrella term than a cohesive musical genre. The Pagan rock label can include bands like Inkubus Sukkubus and The Moon and the Nightspirit who explicitly state their allegiance to Neopaganism; bands like Abney Park who have Neopagans in the band but do not label themselves as pagan rock, and bands like Unto Ashes who sing songs involving occult and Neopagan themes but avoid publicly labeling their personal belief systems.

Inkubus Sukkubus – Pagan Born; The Moors – The Hunter; Ishtar, Perfumed Garden, Pagan Rock Song, Back to Nature :


progressive rock > 1970s > zeuhl


stylistic origins: progressive rock / jazz fusion / RIO / experimental rock / art rock / opera
cultural origins: 1970s, French

Zeuhl means celestial in Kobaïan, the constructed language created by Christian Vander of the progressive rock band Magma. Originally solely applied to the music of Magma, the term “zeuhl” was eventually used to describe the similar music produced by French bands, beginning in the mid-1970s. Although primarily a French phenomenon, zeuhl has influenced recent avant-garde Japanese bands.

Zeuhl typically blends progressive rock, symphonic rock, fusion, neoclassicism, avant-rock, and vocal elements of African-American spirituals and Western military call and response. Common aspects include dissonance, marching themes, throbbing bass, keyboards including piano, Rhodes piano or organ, and brass instruments. Zeuhl shares much in common with the Rock in Opposition movement, and many bands have participated in RIO festivals.

  • Kobaïan is a lyrical language created by French drummer and composer Christian Vander for his progressive rock band Magma. It is the language of Kobaïa, a fictional planet invented by Vander and the setting for a musical “space opera” sung in Kobaïan by Magma on ten concept albums.

Magma – Zombies; Xaal Byblos French Progressive Zeuhl; Tiemko Vodka Frappee:

mid 1970s > post-punk


stylistic origins: punk rock / dub / funk / electronic / krautrock / avant-garde / disco / art rock / jazz / world / glam rock / art pop / progressive
cultural origins: mid – late 1970s; United Kingdom, United States, Australia

Post-punk (originally called new music) is a broad type of rock music that emerged from the punk movement of the 1970s, in which artists departed from the simplicity and traditionalism of punk rock to adopt a variety of avant-garde sensibilities. Inspired by punk’s energy and DIY ethic but determined to break from rock cliches, artists experimented diversely with sources including electronic music and black styles like dub, funk, free jazz, and disco; novel recording and production techniques; and ideas from art and politics, including critical theory, modernist art, cinema and literature.

Communities that produced independent record labels, visual art, multimedia performances and fanzines developed around these pioneering musical scenes, which coalesced in cities such as London, New York, Manchester, and San Francisco.

The early post-punk vanguard was represented by groups such as Siouxsie and the Banshees, Wire, Public Image Ltd, the Pop Group, Cabaret Voltaire, Magazine, Pere Ubu, Gang of Four, Joy Division, Talking Heads, Throbbing Gristle, the Slits, the Cure, the Fall, This Heat, Swell Maps and Au Pairs.

The movement was closely related to the development of ancillary genres such as gothic rock, darkwave, neo-psychedelia, no wave and industrial music. By the mid-1980s, post-punk had dissipated while providing the impetus for the New Pop movement as a well much subsequent alternative and independent music.

Joy Division – She’s Lost Control; The Damned – Smash It Up Parts 1 & 2; Wire – I Am The Fly:

post-punk subgenres: dance-punk, gothic rock


fusion genres: post-hardcore, post-punk revival


mid 1970s > arena rock

arena rock (known additionally by various names such as AOR or album-oriented rock, anthem rock, corporate rock, dad rock, melodic rock, pomp rock, and stadium rock):

stylistic origins: rock / hard rock / pop rock
cultural origins: mid-1970s

All music: “Arena Rock developed in the mid-’70s when hard rock and heavy metal bands began to gain popularity. The music became more commercially oriented and radio-friendly, boasting slick productions and anthemic choruses, both on their hard rock numbers and their sweeping power ballads. Most of these bands earned their following through saturation airplay on FM radio and through constant touring. Bands like Journey, REO Speedwagon, Boston, Foreigner, and Styx became some of the most popular bands of the mid- to late ’70s through this circuit.”

Fireworks displays, use of smoke, and methods of sophisticated lighting have become part of what’s known as arena rock’s visual aesthetic.

Historian Gary A. Donaldson has summed up arena rock as “big hair, big voices, and really big guitars.”

Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’; Queen – We Will Rock You; Kansas – Carry on Wayward Son:



progressive rock > late 1970s > avant-garde progressive rock

avant-prog (short for avant-garde progressive rock):

stylistic origins: rock in opposition / canterbury scene
cultural origins: late 1970s, United States, Europe and Japan

A host of groups and artists mainly from the United States, but also from Europe and Japan, “started to write mostly short instrumental pieces that focused on complexity and stripped down instrumentation, while avoiding the pomposity and stage props of the big progressive rock acts.”

Some groups, such as Thinking Plague and the Motor Totemist Guild, kept working with long durations and rich instrumentation but also forayed into free improvisation, sound collage, and other avant-garde techniques.

Thinking Plague – Lycanthrope; The Muffins – Come What Molten Cloud; Circle – Lokki:

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