Songs that use the Phrygian mode

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Phrygian has a sound much like the minor scale but with a darker edge. A common choice in metal, prog and hip-hop, Phrygian introduces an exotic, unnerving sound to a song’s tonality. Today we’re going to look at some examples of the phrygian mode in action and also look at some similar scales including the Double Harmonic scale and Phrygian Dominant.

📍 CORRECTION 1: at 4:45 the sheet music for “Milkshake” should show three Ds before descending to C#, not just one! Sorry about that and thanks to Asle Fjeldstad for bringing it to my attention.

📍 CORRECTION 2: at 11:05 I said that “Misirlou” started as an Arabic folk song, but in fact it seems it was Greek. Thanks to Theo Querel for bringing that to my attention.

Phrygian mode in Kendrick’s “HUMBLE”:
Early version of “Misirlou”:
12 tone analysing “White Rabbit”:
Listening In analysing “Pyramid Song”:

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Director of Manchester School of Samba at
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