[Smt-talk] Inception chord progression

S. Alexander Reed alexreed at ufl.edu
Tue Aug 10 15:18:26 PDT 2010

Stephen and everyone:

There might be a few potentially useful analytic approaches beyond Cohn, 
though you're right that his seems a fruitful way to consider this 
piece. If you're looking for predecessors of this musical language, I 
think something like Wolf's haunting "An Den Schlaf" or his jaunty "In 
dem Schatten meiner Locken" might be of interest. Both seem to address 
the compelling use of the chromatic mediant that one might suppose has a 
lot to do with Zimmer's progression. For more info on this angle, see 
Deborah Stein's 1985 book _Hugo Wolf’s Lieder and Extensions of 
Tonality_. Zimmer's work here also reminds me a bit of the chorus of the 
Depeche Mode song "Shake the Disease," which Guy Capuzzo addresses in 
some depth in his article "Neo-Riemannian Theory and the Analysis of 
Pop-Rock Music" in Music Theory Spectrum, Vol. 26, No. 2. Specifically, 
DM's progression is Dm Fm Db Bb.

Zimmer's score is indeed clever. I always enjoyed his two note minor 
third motive in the Batman Begins score, which seem quite literally to 
come across as the "beginning" of Elfman's 1989 Batman theme (which, by 
the way, is awfully close to Amy Beach's Gaelic Symphony, isn't it?).

S. Alexander Reed
Assistant Professor
University of Florida

alexreed at ufl.edu

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