Music History Lessons: What is Progressive House Music?

Music History Lessons: What is Progressive House Music?

Music History Lessons: What is Progressive House Music?

You’re on the dance floor in a cool, underground club. You feel liberated as you dance with like-minded individuals among the purple smoke that fills the room. And, as you sway your hips to the hypnotic beats and dreamy soundscapes, you think to yourself, “What is this amazing song?” Chances are that you’re vibe-ing to a progressive house song. 

What’s progressive house music? It’s one of the most captivating subgenera of electronic dance music (EDM). In this article, we’ll be your guide to everything you need to know about this genre, from its roots in the early 90s to its global domination today. 

So, let’s explore the defining qualities that make progressive house so addictive, the legendary artists who have shaped its sound, and the hottest DJs who continue to keep the genre fresh and exciting. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a curious newbie, join us as we uncover the secrets of progressive house music and get lost in its mesmerizing melodies.

So, what is progressive house music?

So, we know that progressive music is a subgenre of EDM. But let’s dig a little deeper. Progressive EDM is a style of house music that’s known for its infectious melodies, lush soundscapes, and gradual build-ups in tempo and sound.

This type of music is characterized by its use of layered, intricate sounds that gradually increase in intensity, leading to a euphoric finale. Unlike traditional house music, which often relies on repetition and minimalism, progressive house features complex rhythms and harmonic structures that take the listener on a journey. DJs and producers often use long, seamless mixes to create a hypnotic and immersive experience on the dance floor.

What’s a progressive house music song?

How do you know if you’re listening to a progressive house song? We’ve made a list of six features that make up the progressive house genre.

1. Melodic and atmospheric

Progressive house music often features lush melodies and atmospheric sounds that create a dreamy, ethereal quality. This is often achieved through the use of lush melodies and harmonic progressions, as well as the inclusion of atmospheric sounds such as pads, strings, and other ambient elements.

2. Build-ups and breakdowns

The tracks typically have long build-ups that gradually increase in intensity, leading to a climactic drop or breakdown. This might be achieved through the use of rising melodies, increasing percussion, or the methodical addition of new elements to the mix.

3. Complex rhythms

Progressive house music often features complex rhythms that are layered and dynamic. This might include the use of multiple layers of percussion, with different rhythms playing off each other to create a sense of depth and complexity.

4. Extended track lengths

What’s progressive house music good for if it only lasts 3 minutes? That’s not enough time to catch a vibe! This is why tracks in this genre are often longer than traditional dance tracks, with many clocking in at 7 minutes or longer. This allows for more intricate and detailed arrangements, with the use of multiple sections and the introduction of new musical elements as the track progresses.

5. Emphasis on the journey

The focus is on creating a musical journey that takes the listener on a sonic adventure, rather than just a simple beat to dance to. To achieve this, progressive house music often uses a variety of musical elements and techniques to create a dynamic and evolving sound.

6. Minimal use of vocals

Progressive house music often features minimal or no vocals, with an emphasis on the music itself. For example, a vocal sample or chopped vocal might be used as a rhythmic element in the track, rather than as a full vocal melody or hook.

What’s the history of progressive house music?

The origins of progressive house music can be traced back to the early 1990s in the UK. It made its way into the rave and club scenes of that era, where it emerged as a fresh and innovative sound. Thus, it sparked an evolution of American and European house music from the late 1980s. 

DJs and producers began experimenting with new sounds and techniques, incorporating elements from other genres such as trance, techno, and ambient music. This experimentation led to the development of a new subgenera of house music that was characterized by its focus on complex melodies, atmospheric soundscapes, and gradual buildups. The term “progressive” was used to describe this new sound, as it was seen as a forward-thinking and innovative approach to dance music.

Progressive house artists

What’s progressive house music without a killer DJ? After all, an artist can make or break a song. Progressive house music has produced some of the most talented and innovative artists in electronic dance music. From the pioneers of the genre to the rising stars of today, the progressive house has an impressive roster of musicians. So, let’s talk about some of the greatest progressive house DJs and artists.

Sasha and John Digweed, two of the earliest proponents of progressive house, remain icons in the genre, with their legendary sets and mixes still inspiring new generations of producers.

Today, mainstream progressive artists include Avicii, Martin Garrix, Calvin Harris, David Guetta, R3hab, and Swedish House Mafia.

progressive house

Progressive house vs deep house

We can’t fully answer the question, “what’s progressive house music” without distinguishing between progressive house and deep house music. While progressive house and deep house are both sub-genres of house music, they have distinct differences in terms of their sound and style. 

Progressive house music is characterized by its gradual build-ups, complex melodies, and atmospheric soundscapes. It often has a faster tempo and a more energetic feel, with a focus on dynamic shifts in rhythm and melody. Deep house, on the other hand, is characterized by its slower tempo and its emphasis on smooth, jazzy chords and deep bass lines. It also has a more mellow and laid-back feel, with a focus on creating a relaxed and intimate atmosphere. 

While both genres share a common ancestry in house music, they’ve developed their own unique sounds and styles over the years. Today, progressive house leans more toward the energetic and uplifting side of the spectrum, and deep house leans more toward the chilled-out and soulful side.

What’s a progressive house music party?

A progressive house music event is a unique and immersive experience that combines the energy of a dance party with the creativity and artistry of electronic music. 

At these events, DJs and producers play extended sets that often last several hours, taking listeners on a journey through the many moods and styles of progressive house music. The music is usually accompanied by a mesmerizing light show, often featuring lasers, strobe lights, and other special effects. These elements are designed to enhance the immersive nature of the experience. Likewise, the atmosphere is always electric, with crowds of people losing themselves in the hypnotic melodies. 

House music Minneapolis

Now that you understand what the vibe of a progressive music party is– why wouldn’t you want to go to an EDM show in Minneapolis? 

At the Pourhouse, we love showcasing original artists who are amazing at what they do. If you want to have a unique experience where you can be exactly who you are and express your true self on the dance floor, come to the Pourhouse’s Mi Casa Es Su Casa event! 

What’s progressive house music: Closing time

As we come to the end of our journey through the world of progressive house music, one thing is clear: this genre has something truly special to offer. From its emotive melodies to its innovative production techniques, progressive house has captured the hearts of fans around the globe.
So, the next time a friend asks you, “What’s progressive house music” you’ll be able to tell them all about it– and then invite them to the hottest EDM concert in Minneapolis.