T6 with vampires

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I particularly like the T_6 transformation, which gives an eerie feeling to the chord progression.

And so, the other day I was watching the movie “Interview with the vampire”, whose music has been composed by Elliot Goldenthal. There is this scene at the beginning of the movie when Louis sees the sun for the last time before he’s turned into a vampire by Lestat, and guess what ?

Right at this moment, we hear the chord progression B flat major to E major: these two are related by the T_6 transformation !

And it makes perfect sense ! Not only is the T_6 transformation a transposition, it’s also an inversion by the center of the chromatic circle (see above). It parallels Louis leaving the world of humans and light for the (inverted !) world of vampires, darkness, and night.

But wait, there’s more !

The night before, Lestat visits Louis and makes him the proposition of turning him into a vampire.

And at this moment (and later throughout the movie), we hear the chord progression F# major to A minor. Those two chords are related by the neo-Riemannian PRP transformation. Why is it important ?

As you can see on the diagram above, it is almost like a T_6 transformation but not quite: the pitch classes A and C# are not related by the center inversion. And again it parallels their relationship: Lestat expects Louis to become like him, but Louis will in fact become a vampire of a very different moral nature. I find it a perfect illustration of what neo-Riemannian theories can bring to music analysis, especially in the context of film music.

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