In honor of the new "Top Gun: Maverick" movie, I'd like to re-wind the clock to 1986 and the original "Top Gun" movie, featuring a gorgeous theme song, the "Top Gun Anthem", written by Harold Faltermeyer and Steve Stevens.
For a quick backdrop, Harold Faltermeyer is a German composer who was discovered at a young age by producer & composer Giorgio Moroder (with whom he worked on a number of projects). Faltermeyer became hugely famous when he wrote & performed the song "Axle F" for the movie "Beverly Hills Cop" starring Eddie Murphy.
Steve Stevens is best known for his work with Billy Idol and at the time had recorded Billy's first two albums ("Billy Idol" and "Rebel Yell") and was in he studio with Billy recording "Whiplash Smile". Steve went on to record with many others, including Michael Jackson, and appeared on-stage for Live Aid playing guitar with the Thompson Twins alongside Nile Rodgers and Madonna.
Harold and Steve won a Grammy in 1987 for "Top Gun Anthem" for Best Instrumental Pop Performance.
So, to the music!
I'll simplify the chart so we're looking only at the basic chords (no embellishments) to keep things simple.
"Top Gun Anthem"
C - - - /Dm - - - /C - - - /C - G - /
C - - - /Dm - - - /C - - - /Bb - - - /
F# - - - /G#m - - - /F# - - - /C# - - - /
D#m - - - /B - - - /C# - - - /A - - - /
C - - - /F - - - /C - - -- /C - G - /
Am - - - /Bb - - - /G - - - /C - - - /
Bb - - - /Am - - - /Dm - - - /
G - - - /G - - - /G - - - /G - - - /
C - - - /Bb - - - /Am - F - /Dm - G - /
C - - - /Bb - - - /F - - - /Dm - G - /
G - - - /G - - - /G - - -/G - - - /
So....section one of the verse is in the key of C, section two is in F#, and then it modulates back to C. The bridge is also in C, but kicks off with that borrowed Bb chord (which we also see in the verse). Normally, this would dictate a C mixolydian, but the chord doesn't alter the melody out of its "no sharps, no flats" mode, so we're still in C.
However, when the guitar solo comes up, Steve uses the Bb to push into several areas (including the C mixolydian) that we can discuss later when examining improvisation.
A quick word about the modulation between the sections of the verse:
The key of C and the key of F# are a tritone away from each other. That is, F# is exactly halfway between C and the C an octave up (or down). That's an extremely unusual key change, but its fabulously smooth in Harold & Steve's capable hands. Note also the progressions used in each section are NOT exact duplicates...though they certainly could have been. These slight alterations keep the progression behind the beautiful melody fresh and exciting.
That's all for now....we'll look at more songs soon.
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