[Smt-talk] Inception chord progression

Eric Knechtges eric.t.knechtges at gmail.com
Thu Aug 12 16:15:37 PDT 2010

I'm wondering how much of our collective tendency to hear this progression
in G minor stems from the fact that that chord appears first in the
four-chord progression, thus setting up a "mini-chaconne" that moves us to
hear the first chord as tonic.

I've been trying to start the progression with a different chord in the
cycle, in an attempt to shift the feeling of tonic.  What are others'
perceptions on this?

I'm also wondering if there's some sort of "borrowing" happening here
between G minor and G-flat major.  If the final chord is interpreted as
C-flat major instead of B:

i - "i6" - VI - "iv"
Gm - Gb/Bb - Eb - Cb
(Gm - Gm/Bb - Eb - Cm)

My ear, at least, seems to recognize the "normalized" progression in G minor
as having functional similarity to the Inception progression.  This would
also perhaps explain why the progression seems to work better forwards than
backwards... and also why, at least for me, G minor makes the most
satisfying tonic of all of them.

For the record, I'm not denying the validity of the "B major as hexatonic
dominant" explanation -- simply offering another explanation.  The school
year starts in a few weeks, and I'm enjoying still having the time to think
about these things.  :-)

Eric Knechtges, DM
Assistant Professor, Coordinator of Theory/Composition
Northern Kentucky University
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