How Backdoor Resolution and Relative Modulation Duality Makes ‘The Sounds of Silence’ So Haunting

The fast talking doodling music theorist and musician 12tone visually and verbally analyzed the unique structure of the iconic Simon and Garfunkel song “The Sounds of Silence”, particularly noting the harmonically haunting theme throughout. This sound comes out of duality techniques such as backdoor progression ( ♭ VII to I mi) and relative modulation (flipping from major to relative minor and vice-versa). He also comments on how the duo used their voices to make the song sound like it was moving forward and staying still at the same time.

the last thing I want to address is the vocal harmonies because they’re fantastic …the way those melodies interact …You’re probably most familiar with Garfunkel’s line, which mostly arpeggiate scores and features large leaps and a broad range, but Simon’s part does none of that. For most of the song Simon is just singing the route of whatever the current chord is, which combines with Garfunkel’s part to create what’s called ‘oblique motion’ where one voice moves and the other sits still..

Here’s original 1964 acoustic version of the song.

Here’s the more widely known version performed live in 2009.