[Smt-talk] Inception chord progression

TIMOTHY SULLIVAN trsullivan at sympatico.ca
Sat Aug 14 12:44:43 PDT 2010

There is one critical flaw in your transcription which no one in the thread has yet pointedout: the final chord is not a C flat major triad, but a Cb major seventh chord. The tonic-seventhdissonance is actually enhanced through orchestration in the horns. This means thatthe B flat remains the common-tone througout the "progression" (chord cycle). The stepwisevoice-leading which expands and contracts around this Bb is strongly referential to Glass'scommon-tone chord cycles. Historically, it recalls Mussorgsky, Sibelius and possibly Rimsky-Korsakov,just to name a few.Dr. Timothy SullivanComposer, Artist, Educator
Although we aren't in control of circumstances,We are in control of our reactions to them.

Timothy Sullivan
Composer, Artist, Educator416-557-2838

Date: Fri, 13 Aug 2010 10:49:21 -0500
From: smurphy at ku.edu
To: staylor7 at illinois.edu; smt-talk at societymusictheory.org
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Inception chord progression

Message body

I don’t know of any exact instances of this 4-chord progression in toto within art music or film music repertoires (assuming transpositional and permutational equivalences (i.e. disposition of notes within each chord)).  But it breaks down into contiguous chord pairings that are more or less commonplace or at least well precedented (assuming the same equivalences) when Hollywood wants to invoke the fantastic sonically. In my experience with listening to popular film music, it seems that many composers fashion new kinds of such fantastic harmonic progressions through the use of what might be called “recombinant progressions.” One could certainly hear or propose an underlying logic for the whole (voice leading, collectional, etc.), but I think it’s worth keeping in mind with these progression-strings that the composer may be striving, certainly among other things, for novelty within the constraints of stitching together such triadic pairings that are well-worn yet still immediately significant and surprisingly resilient.



Scott Murphy

Associate Professor of Music Theory

University of Kansas School of Music

smurphy at ku.edu

on 8/10/10 4:30 PM, Stephen Taylor at staylor7 at illinois.edu wrote:

I've seen Inception twice and there's a chord progression I just can't get out of my head - the entire score is by far the best I've heard from Hans Zimmer & co. (and the slowed-down Edith Piaf is excellent). The progression's clearest instance is the scene in Paris where the streets and buildings start folding over themselves.

G min  Gb Maj/Bb   Eb Maj   B Maj




Stephen Taylor

Associate Professor of Composition-Theory

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

http://www.stephenandrewtaylor.net <http://www.stephenandrewtaylor.net/> 


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