Bela Bartok, Godfather of Prog Rock, Math Rock, Prog Metal, Technical Metal, etc


Bela Bartok is one of my favorite musicians ever.  His music sounds like: King Crimson, Magma, Gentle Giant, Captain Beefheart, Yes, Meshuggah, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Bastro, Don Caballero, the Fucking Champs, Sonic Youth, Drive Like Jehu, Necrophagist, Metallica, Slint, Hella, Stravinsky, Rush, Pink Floyd, etc.  It is truly the precursor to prog rock, math rock, prog metal, math metal, technical metal, etc.  Angular, robotic, dissonant, heavy, dramatic, virtuostic, spooky, and thoroughly  progtacular.

Check out his amazing string quartets, which sound in parts like Don Caballero mixed with Voivod and Metallica and Meshuggah and the rest of the bands listed above, and his awesome “how to learn piano” series Mikrokosmos, which he wrote for his son to learn piano,  Amazing!  The Contrasts album with Benny Goodman on clarinet, Bartok on piano, and Joseph Szigeti on violin sounds like Voivod with clarinet!

I think it would be great to have kids who learn like the Suzuki method to be slipped sheets of Mikrokosmos sheet music instead, that would breed a new generation of interesting piano players for sure.

Check out especially:


Bela Barok: String Quartets 1-6 (Emerson String Quartet) (MP3s on Amazon)

Bela Bartok: Mikrokosmos (Jeno Jando) (MP3s on Amazon)

Bela Bartok, Joseph Szigeti, Benny Goodman: Contrasts (Amazon)

The string quartets by another set of performers:

Bela Barok: String Quartets 1-6 (Rubin Quartet) (MP3s on Amazon)


Here are some good interviews/articles:

Bela Bartok: Finding a Voice Through Folk Music (NPR)

Bartok: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 and 2. (National Review)

Benny Goodman: An Interview With the King of Swing (American

Also totally awesome and Bartokian:
Shostakovich String Quartet #8 in c, Op 110–Emerson String Quartet. DG 459670-2.


3 Responses

  1. This is a cool approach to Bela Bartok’s music. I would say it’s the other way around, all these guys sound like him. On the other hand, your list seems to ignore Frank Zappa who explicitely mentions him as one of his early influences.
    I’ve posted some Bela Bartok and classical music video clips on my blog, feel free to visit.

  2. i happened upon a performance of his string quartets when i was working as an usher at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra hall. That set me straight regarding contemporary classical: also got into Berg and Webern…but then found a large array of 1900s composers who warped the traditional ensembles into violent and miraculous abstractions. Although i adore all the rock/metal idiom acts mentioned in this post, i really think that there’s a closer thread to free jazz stuff like Oliver Lake, Archie Shepp, Marion Brown, Charles Gayle etc – but no doubt whatsoever that the metal/jazz/classical realms are entirely in sync with exploration of form and content in sound

  3. >Bela Bartok is one of my favorite musicians ever

    Isn’t Bartok a composer, rather than a musician? I mean he may have played but it’s as a a composer that he is important.

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