Rock Example of the Phrygian Mode

Here is a quick example of the Phrygian mode in popular music.

Like music articles with a bit of wildness?  Check out Composer Cat.

Rock Example of the Phrygian Mode

The band Loudness’s iconic tune “Crazy Nights” uses the F# Phrygian scale in the opening riff, by using A-F#-F#-F# B-F#-F#-F# E-F#-G-F#.

The repetition of F#, weakly tonicized by A (scale degree four) and B (scale degree five), along with the use of a G (natural!) makes this firmly rooted in F# Phrygian.  The lowered second degree (G natural) makes the riff especially “heavy”.

To further cement the F# tonic, the chorus is in A Major, the relative major of F# Minor (F# Phrygian can be thought of as a variant on F# Minor).  But, it is the G natural that always gets me, and is the key to making this a Phrygian riff.

The Mode

Here are the notes in F# Minor compared to F# Phrygian.  You will notice the only difference is G natural, the one note that turns this riff from a natural minor one into a Phrygian one, and creates its heaviness.


The Video

Regardless of its harmonic and melodic field, this is a heavy, headbanging, and loud tune with a music video that, while heavy, is a bit cheeseball by today’s standards.  I still love the tune and video, though.   Enjoy!

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