[Smt-talk] Inception chord progression

Laurel Parsons laureljparsons at gmail.com
Sun Aug 15 10:43:24 PDT 2010

Hello, Inceptionites.

Zimmer's claim aside that all of the score originated in the Piaf song, I
can't help but hear in this progression echoes of the bleak and sinister
4-chord progression that opens Schubert's *Der Doppelganger*.  Here it is as
diegetic film music:


Like the *Inception* progression, it can be divided into two halves, each of
which involves melodic (and bass) motion by descending semitone; in g minor,
the outer voices of *Doppelganger'*s first two chords move from G-F#, as
they do in *Inception*; in both progressions, a single tone is held in
common throughout -- g minor's dominant in Schubert, and its 3rd in Zimmer;
and despite the straightforward tonic-dominant alternation in Schubert, the
diminished fourth leap in the outer voices from F# to Bb between chords 2
and 3 creates a moment of strangeness analogous to the Gb-Eb progression at
the same point in the Zimmer.  Moreover, the tempo, meter, and rhythm are
virtually identical.

Finally there is Heine's text, about the moon confronting a man with his own
*doppelganger*, an obvious parallel with the multiple dream-reality versions
we see of Cobb (and the other characters); the setting in the neighbourhood
and outside the house where the narrator's lover once lived but is now long
gone; and the theme of being tortured by memory.

"The night is quiet, the streets are calm,
In this house my beloved once lived:
She has long since left the town,
But the house still stands, here in the same place.

A man stands there also and looks to the sky,
And wrings his hands overwhelmed by pain:
Upon seeing his face, I am terrified--
The moon shows me my own form!

O you Doppelgänger <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doppelg%C3%A4nger>! you
pale comrade!
Why do you ape the pain of my love
Which tormented me upon this spot
So many a night, so long ago?"

Laurel Parsons


Laurel Parsons, Ph.D.
Tutor in Humanities (Music)
Quest University Canada
3200 University Blvd.
Squamish, BC
VB8 0N8
laurel.parsons at questu.ca
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