[Smt-talk] Inception chord progression

Thomas Noll noll at cs.tu-berlin.de
Fri Aug 13 16:38:53 PDT 2010

Dear Dmitri, dear colleagues,
is it plausible to say that the deceptive resolution in minor has a  
tonic function? Deceptive resolution is first of all a syntagmatic  
term, as I think. It states that the resolution chord is replaced by a  
"fake" one. But it is not clear from the outset that the deceptive  
status of the chord stems from a shared tonal function. The latter is  
a paradigmatic condition. The clue to the deception may well be a  
voice-leading detail, such as the expected soprano clause. My  
subjective impression is that - prototypically - the deceptive VI in  
minor has subdominant function rather than tonic. The situation in  
minor seems to be different from the analogous situation in Major. So  
far this is a question about the prototypical deceptive resolution.
The concrete situation is more complicated. In the light of Dan  
Harrison's concept of tonal functions being distributed over bases,  
associates and agents one could tend regard the Gb-major chord as a  
projection of the Dominant agent F#.  But this interpretation would  
diminish the role of the raising fourth Bb - Eb in the bass, which  
Stephen Taylor in his reply associated with a "V-I illusion". If we  
accept that reading of the Gb-Major-sixt chord as a false dominant for  
the root position Eb-chord, I would be tempted to interpret this as a  
"V/IV - IV" - illusion in g-minor rather than as a "V-I illusion". In  
other words: Even in this sophisticated progression I still find it  
more plausible to hear VI as having subdominant function.
In this reading the Inception chord progression becomes an instance of  
I - V/IV - IV - V - I. But the problematic spot for this reading is -  
of course - the Gb-Major-Sixth chord. In Lendvai's terms it could  
alternatively represent subdominant function on its own by virtue of  
its fundament Gb.
Thomas Noll

> 2) The G-F# alternation in the melody suggests Gb and B as altered  
> dominants of G, with Eb a deceptive resolution or tonic substitute.

Thomas Noll
noll at cs.tu-berlin.de
Escola Superior de Musica de Catalunya, Barcelona
Departament de Teoria i Composició


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