Phrygian mode

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 {\ override Score.TimeSignature # 'stencil = ## f \ relative c' {\ clef treble \ time 7/4 e4 fgabcd e2}}
Comparison between Phrygian and minor
Pictorial representation of the Phrygian scale ( explanation )

Phrygian mode , Phrygian for short , originally denotes an octave genre of the ancient Greek Systema Téleion , later the third tone or deuterus authenticus (characterized by the ambitus e – e 1 , the repercussa c 1 and the finalis e) in the medieval system of church tones .

Today (for example in modal jazz ) it is often only understood as a modal scale with the same interval structure.

Since the third degree of the Phrygian scale forms a minor third to the root note, it has a minor-like character. There is a semitone step between the first and second as well as the fifth and sixth step, the remaining intervals are whole steps .

The key of E-Phrygian contains the root tones of Western music, to which the white keys correspond on keyboard instruments . It differs from the minor key of E minor by the lowered second degree ("Phrygian second ").

Due to its semitone step to the second level, the Phrygian mode has an "oriental" sound. A closely related scale is the Phrygian dominant scale .


The Phrygian scale originated in ancient Greece , where it was initially called Doric .

It was not until the early Middle Ages that a misunderstanding led to confusion with the Doric mode . The Phrygian mode was later used in Christian church music of the Middle Ages. The ethos of this key represents the character of plea and complaint in this custom, and this is often used in Lent .

Due to its special tonal characteristics, the key was able to hold its own for a relatively long time alongside the new major and minor keys .


Classical music

The mode is used by some composers in classical music to achieve certain effects. Examples are the Three Madrigals in secular choral music by Arnold Mendelssohn in the words of young Werther or the St. John Passion by Heinrich Schütz in sacred choral music .

Sound sample: Phrygian ending

Phrygian conclusion.png

In Euler notation , the Phrygian scale is in pure tuning :, efg (,, g sharp), a, hc, d, e '

pop music

In pop music the Phrygian scale was particularly represented in psychedelic rock , where the oriental character was combined with the tendency towards the exotic in hippie culture. Phrygian intervals are used in " Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun " by Pink Floyd and " White Rabbit " by Jefferson Airplane , but also in "So Cold The Night" by The Communards , for example . The metal band Metallica often uses the Phrygian mode.

Non-European and folk music

The Phrygian mode corresponds to the Indian raga Bhairavi . In Arabic music the key is known as the Kurdish mode , and is also used in popular music , although the second tetrachord can easily be changed. In classical Turkish music, besides the maqam Kürdi, it is similar to the makamlar "Hüseynî" and "Uşşak". There, however, the second tone is placed a little higher between semitones and whole tones, so that the second from the fundamental tone to the second tone is larger than in European music.

For the music of the Iberian Peninsula (especially flamenco and fado ), the mode (span. Modo dórico ) is the style (cf. Andalusian cadenza ). Both there and in the music of parts of the Roma and Sinti , it is often reinterpreted as a functionally harmonious dominant (major third), see Phrygian-dominant scale .

See also

Web links

References and comments

  1. Luigi Agustoni / Johannes Berchmans Göschl : Introduction to the Interpretation of Gregorian Chant. Volume 1: Basics , Chapter 1.3.2: The eight modes of the octo echo. Gustav Bosse Verlag, Kassel 1995.
  2. In addition to the correct spelling authenticus , the incorrect spelling authentus is also found quite often in the literature .
  3. Markus Bautsch: On the Ethos of Church Tones , accessed on November 23, 2014.