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Progressive Music in the modern sense is a broad term that can refer to musical compositions of various musical directions with some approximation. The term can be used in two ways:
- Regarding music, which, starting from a certain basic style, begin to use certain innovations or borrow certain elements of other styles, creating a new or hybrid direction as a result.
- In relation to music that is characterized by a gradual accumulation of energy throughout a track or throughout a music album.
Progressive music is music that attempts to expand existing stylistic boundaries associated with specific genres of music. The word comes from the basic concept of "progress", which refers to development and growth by accumulation, and is often deployed in the context of distinct genres, with progressive rock being the most notable example. Music that is deemed "progressive" usually synthesizes influences from various cultural domains, such as European art music, Celtic folk, West Indian, or African. It is rooted in the idea of a cultural alternative and may also be associated with auteur-stars and concept albums, considered traditional structures of the music industry.
As an art theory, the progressive approach falls between formalism and eclecticism. "Formalism" refers to a preoccupation with established external compositional systems, structural unity, and the autonomy of individual art works. Like formalism, "eclecticism" connotes a predilection toward style synthesis or integration. However, contrary to formalist tendencies, eclecticism foregrounds discontinuities between historical and contemporary styles and electronic media, sometimes referring simultaneously to vastly different musical genres, idioms, and cultural codes. In marketing, "progressive" is used to distinguish a product from "commercial" pop music.