Modern vs. Progressive: The Album Rating System revisited

My schedule finally calmed down enough for me to put some time into the blog. Several loose ends from previous threads were waiting to be tied, and one of these is our uncompleted discussion about my proposed system of including in album reviews a discussion of how traditional or progressive it is. I simplified the system, taking it from ten down to five categories. [EDIT, 6/7/12: Broken link removed.] So there you have it. It’s a very simple system; you might not always agree with it, but you should always be able to understand it.

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Modern vs. Progressive

Note that my rating system still refers to progressive as the opposite of traditional. Several who posted comments in earlier threads on this topic objected to this usage, and though I did not answer their arguments at the time, I am not ignoring their viewpoint. But I must say that I respectfully disagree.

Let me define each of the three terms, using the primary Random House Dictionary (2006) definition, as found at reference.com.

Traditional: “of or pertaining to tradition.”

Progressive: “favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are, esp. in political matters.”

Modern: “of or pertaining to present and recent time; not ancient or remote.”

I stuck to the first–primary–definition for each word because secondary usages of modern can overlap with progressive. But if a distinction is to be made, and earlier comments were making such a distinction, we need to use the primary and main definition for each word.

Progressive Southern Gospel–and by that term I mean both what some would call modern and what some would call progressive–is the music “favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are.” That, in my opinion, is a perfectly satisfactory and accurate description of the sub-genre.

So why do I dislike the term “modern Southern Gospel”? It is because the primary definition of modern is “of or pertaining to present and recent time.” All Southern Gospel recorded in the “present and recent time” is modern Southern Gospel.

Ever since a certain great President, the political term “liberal” has been out of style, so “liberals” use the term “progressive.” Perhaps because of this, some participants in this mostly politically conservative genre shy away from “progressive” as though it was a bad word. Of course, it isn’t a bad word, as it’s quite possible to be progressive and be very good.

But “progressive” is still a more accurate nomenclature for the sub-genre we’re trying to describe, because all current Southern Gospel, be it traditional or progressive, is modern.


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  1. I can agree with this – though I probably won’t agree with what albums you label as very progressive. 🙂

  2. You might not, but at least hopefully in the process of the constructive discussion the readers here (and your readers) can get a feel for whether it’s an album they would enjoy. 🙂