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Old music, still contemporary sound

As a fan of progressive rock, of the British variety in particular, here’s a brief overview of the music of the Canterbury sound, with some recommendations and links for those who are interested.

The Canterbury sound refers to a group of musicians in the 60s and 70s based around Canterbury in the UK.

The term progressive rock loosely describes the music: jazz, folk and rock were melded in varying degrees in the bands of the time.

‘The Canterbury scene is largely defined by a set of musicians and bands with intertwined memberships. These are not tied by very strong musical similarities, but a certain whimsicality, touches of psychedelia, rather abstruse lyrics, and a use of improvisation derived from jazz are common elements in their work.“The real essence of ‘Canterbury Sound’ is the tension between complicated harmonies, extended improvisations, and the sincere desire to write catchy pop songs.” “In the very best Canterbury music…the musically silly and the musically serious are juxtaposed in an amusing and endearing way.”’

The band names are singular: Caravan, Soft Machine, Gong, and my favourite in name as well as sound, Hatfield and the North, the latter taking their name from a motorway sign coming out of London.

Favourite albums I recommend:

For Girls who Grow Plump in the Night (1973)


Soft Machine
The Soft Machine (1968)


Flying Teapot (1973)


Hatfield and the North
The Rotters’ Club (1975)


Each of these bands’ discography is well worth delving into. And of course there are other bands and bands related to the genre that are really interesting.

Incidentally, some well known musical names have been associated with the Canterbury sound.

Robert Wyatt, Mike Oldfield and the drumming legend Bill Bruford are notable.


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