[Review] Gerard Bassols – The Musical Instruments Of Progressive Rock (Book)

Gerard Bassols is a multi-instrumentalist and a great lover and collector of Progressive music for over 45 years. We had the opportunity to receive his book “The Musical Instruments of Progressive Rock: An Illustrated Guide, from the 1960s to the present” released by Circulo Rojo Editorial. Consisting of 288 pages and over 550 accurate photographs, this guide offers a detailed analysis of the tools used in our beloved genre with a wealth of unique details. Starting from the end of the 60s to get up to today Gerard after an interesting preface that summarizes the evolution of the genre with a careful analysis of the styles over the years. In the first chapter the instruments that characterize the Prog are analyzed: the keyboards, starting from the ancestor of the Mellotron, the Chamberlin. In the next section a careful description full of details and photographs with various high profile artists such as Tony Banks, Rick Wakeman and the ELP playing the Mellotron. Enriched with technical data sheets on its operation with a very refined detail and very interesting details, to pass to its successor the Birotron designed by Dave Biro in 1974. It is very exciting to see these keyboard masters depicted one after the other. We therefore move on to the Hammond organ, one of the most used keyboards in Rock in general and which has made the fortune of groups such as Deep Purple and Uriah Heep, being used, for its characteristic sound, by the heavier bands. Here too, both the operation and the components are illustrated in detail, as well as in the following section where we find the Moog and the Minimoog. Another classic of Prog is the Synth, which occupies a very large section, having also been a bit by its nature evolved with VST and also used in modern and non-modern electronic music. This extensive section describes with unique photos all types of Synths, from the beginnings to the modern ones and managed by the MIDI interface and by PC programs. Music lovers will find here an accurate section where they can find curiosities and high-level guides to deepen their knowledge and understand how their favorite artists have used and modulated these fantastic instruments to their liking. On the other hand, even for a musician this can certainly be an interesting guide to deepen and extend their knowledge and techniques on the instrument used. Inside, there are some parts dedicated to some real geniuses such as Patrick Moraz and his One-Off Vako Orchestration, Steve Hogart’s MIDI Gloves and MIDI Cricket Bat and the Ironing Board designed by Jem Godfrey. Inventive and innovative jewels that have brought sound into the future. An interesting section is the one dedicated to Sequencers and Drum Machines, where even here the sound is projected into the future and the description of the functioning of these technologies is rich and full of interesting details and guides. The second chapter is dedicated to two other essential components of Prog and Rock music in general: Basses and Guitars, from the pioneers of Psychedelia such as the brilliant Jimy Hendrix. Gerard offers a page depicting Jimy burning his Strat in Monterey and the last remaining part on display at the museum dedicated to him. Many are the artists depicted with their guitars, Gilmour and his Statocaster as well as Oldfield, the modified Hodgson and always Jimy in Monterey playing in 1967. The absolute genius of Frank Zappa, Steve Howe and his Telecaster and Steve Morse with his “Frankenstein.” We then move on to Gibson Les Paul with some of the greatest of Prog Steve Hackett, Robert Fripp and Pete Townshend and again Steve Howe. We then move on to Ibanez, excellent both as guitars and as basses, nylon acoustic guitars and Bryan May’s Red Special. A part on the guitar controller could not be missing with details on the pick-ups and E-Bow too. Let’s move on to instruments more derived from the guitar such as the Lap Steel and the Choral Electric Sitar, a very interesting section to understand the nuances that music has taken thanks to these particular instruments. We are more than half of the book and on each page the desire to continue reading it and getting information, also looking at the excellent photographic shots offered increases. We are at the Precison and Rickembacker fender basses section, the last ones made famous by the Beatles first and by Chris Squire and Phil Manzanera among others. Here we are at the section dedicated to fretless Basses and its most famous users, from Pastorius to Edwin through Percy Jones and Chris Squire. A section with excellent photos that then moves on to the basses with more strings played by J. Paul Jones up to the virtuoso John Myung of Dream Theater, passing through Greg Lake with many vintage photos and details of the instruments. Could not miss a part on the pedals for Bass and the Moog taurus and his ways of impigo, to then move on to the Steinberg “Headless” Basses and Guitars. Geddy Lee was one of the most famous users, but also Allan Holdsworth and David Gilmour, with a page intricately dedicated to the Steinberg Sound period data sheet. Also the Bass and the Master and innovator Tony Levin who photographed with his NS Design Double Bass and Steve Howe’s 12 String guitar. Many models and artists who take part in this large portion of the book, rich in details and with accurate cards. descriptive both period and meticulous descriptions by Gerard. Truly a captivating and captivating reading, the guitar is perhaps the most widespread instrument in the world, for anyone who wants to deepen here he really finds many ideas for both beginners and experts passing through simple fans. could they miss the double handle and triple handle jewels? Of course not, Jimmy Page, Steve Howe and think Elvis have tried their hand at this multi-neck guitar. Mike Rutherford of the legendary Genesis, well-known Bassist, has even equipped it with a neck with Bass strings and one with 12 guitar strings, brilliant. Even an Italian, Aldo Tagliapietra de Le Orme used Mike’s technique, Bumblefoot uses it with double guitar to perform his sought-after virtuosity in his current Prog and Metal projects. Chris Squire, Roger Newell and J. Paul Jones first and Steve Vai have even mounted 3 handles. Steve then developed his own version in the shape of a heart with a vertical handle to touch the strings with two hands on two different handles. As you can see the information and details are really many, I suggest you read this book carefully you will discover or deepen very interesting topics. He attaches himself to the Chapman Stick of which Tony Levin is the main exponent, to then move on to the Warr Guitars and NS / Stick mainly used by virtuosos of the instrument. We are at the third section of the book with Drums and Percussions, which begins with an introductory part to explain the components in detail and they are really many and well described. We then move on to the details of some sets of the main exponents of dfel Prog such as Carl Palmer, Bill Bruford and his Rototoms, The Octobans of Stewart Copeland’s set. We therefore come to Electronic Drums, used in more recent times or by the pioneers of more experimental sounds. Neil Peart, one of the drum giants used a set composed with electronic and acoustic parts creating sounds that are described in detail here. The Paiste Color Cymbals have a dedicated part, as well as the Other Drums where we find particular sets and tailor-made for not exactly aesthetic needs, even if they have particular shapes and features. Oldfield’s Turbular Bells and the description of the ideas behind its composition. This fascinating journey into the Prog instruments concludes with a section where we find all the other instruments that do not fall into the previous categories, Harp, Violin, Flute and Recorder then again Saxophone, harmonica and Bagpipe. The section concludes with a long and detailed description of the effects that modulate both the sound and the voice, closing with a beautiful vintage photo with Instrument Frequency Chart. A detailed, interesting and profound guide to the prog tools and a description of the equipment of the main performers of our beloved genre. Gerard’s writing and development of the themes is really excellent, involving the reader who is also helped by the presence of unique and very suggestive photographic shots. Prog lovers will find here a lot of information and specific guides on the instruments and their main uses, full of insights and with suggestive photographs. A book to buy and read carefully from start to finish, you will be positively impressed, I recommend it to all music lovers.

Gearard Bassols |Facebook Page|Instagram|

Circulo Rojo Editorial |Official Website|Facebook Page|Twitter|Instagram|YouTube Channel|

Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

Leave a Reply