Mode III: Phrygian

Phrygian, the darkest of modes…

It’s no coincidence that a bit of Phrygian is often used in heavy metal. In more traditional music it has been avoided. The sound is too dark, too abrasive and too unsettling. In fact, it is so unusual in sound that I do not know of one famous piece of music that is entirely in Phrygian, meaning that there are no notes outside of the mode. To get an idea of how hard it is to use this mode, try to write a tune that starts and ends on an E, then use not sharps or flats for either the melody or any of the chords. No cheating. So far I have been unable to write anything that is purely in Phrygian.

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