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The Phrygian mode goes from the third note of the major scale. It is a minor scale with a minor third. The characterizing note of the mode is the flat 2nd. If a melody or solo shall have a phrygian character, then you have to play the flat 2nd.

One way to approach phrygian harmony, is to say that the primary chords are the root (tonic), and those chords that includes the characterizing flat 2nd. That would be the bII and the bvii chords. If we are in E-prygian, that would be F and Dm. We have the flat 2nd in the V chord as well. But this is a diminished chord, and we better stay away from it.

I think of phrygian mode mainly as a flamenco scale, and it is one of the most important scales in this music. But the typical flamenco has a major root chord, even though the phrygian mode is a minor mode. "Pure" phrygian should have a minor root chord. A typical phrygian flamenco progression is E - F - G- Am. If you play this the other way, Am - G - F - E, you get what I have labeled a "Spanish Progression". I sometimes find it hard to tell if these chords form some kind of a natural/harmonic A-minor progression, or if they are E-phrygian. If you try Em instead of E in these progressions, it becomes weaker, and I would say less interesting. At the moment, I do not really know any songs with a pure phrygian progressions – at least there are no songs coming to my mind right now.

Recordings with Phrygian - Mode

  • Iron Maiden - Remember Tomorrow -

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    Ultimate Guitar Techniques - Soloing With Modes
    In this indispensable DVD, Danny Gill takes an in-depth look at the seven major scale modes.
    RefNr: RDR0129
    Order From:
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