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So the chord sequence for The Sound of Silence in Am (the key I play in because I lost my capo) is roughly

Am G Am C F C F C F C Am C G Am G etc.

My question is why the G before Am, "within the sound," which has a lot of suspense and does not sound bright at all, sounds very different from the G after the Am, which is bright and cheery. It's G Am G, but the two G's sound very different. I took music theory a decade and a half ago and I've long since forgotten pretty much all of it, but I got the sense that the "chord of suspense" should be E or E7, which is nowhere in this piece.

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We hear the first G chord as ♭VII of A minor. The second one follows a string of C major chords and feels like V of C major. Yes, it's interesting what a big difference the context makes.

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Laurence answered this. I'd just add that the "chord of suspense" is not E or E7 because this piece is modal, in A Aeolian, not in A minor.

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  • Isn't A Aeolian the same as A natural minor, one of the more commoly found minors?
    – Tim
    Aug 25 '20 at 11:31
  • @Tim - Good question. I'd say the border between the two is gradual. My rough guide is that if G major is used as a dominant (as it is in Sound of Silence), then it's more aeolian, and if e minor is the dominant, it's more natural minor. But I don't think we can really draw a hard and fast line here. Aug 25 '20 at 12:22
  • Seems to me that Em isn't really dominant in key Am. Seems that G is often used as its 'dominant'.
    – Tim
    Aug 25 '20 at 12:24
  • It's not common to use Em as a dominant, but it does happen. In any case, there's not much to distinguish between A Aeolian and A natural minor. Aug 25 '20 at 12:26
  • And in the same vein, there's only one note differece between G and Em!
    – Tim
    Aug 25 '20 at 12:42

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