Phrygian is the third mode of the major scale and is considered to be a ‘minor’ scale due to the flat 3rd. the interval formula for phrygian is:
Since the III chord of the major scale is a m7 chord, phrygian will work well over this. For example in the key of C major the E phrygian mode would work well over Em7. To really bring out the sound of phrygian we need to make good use of the flat 2nd.
Here is the first octave ascending and descending:
If we extend our Em7 chord to an Emb9 (E minor, flat 9) then we can create some tension with that flat 9. A 9th is the same note as a 2nd. The flat 2 gives us quite a dark sound which can be good for Rock and Metal too.
Phrygian Mode Example
Below is a simple chord progression in E Phrygian which uses a combination of Am and Amb6 moving to Em and FMaj7#11. The flat 6 of the Amb6 is the note F which in relation to E is the flat 2. Don’t worry about that scary sounding #11 that we’ve added to our FMaj7. This is the note B which is also the 5th in the Em chord. The 7th of the F chord is the note E and I am playing the chord with the E in the Bass so when we switch between the Em and the FMaj7#11. This yields a sense of wanting to resolve back to the E again.
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