The Phrygian mode is less commonly used in pop music, but it is not unusual to find it in heavy rock, metal and flamenco. It has a uniquely dark yet palatable sound with the unusual b9th in its construction giving it a somewhat Spanish flavour.
Phrygian is often used as a soloing choice over power chords in rock music, but is not often used as a source of diatonic chord progressions. As it is similar in construction to the Aeolian mode, they are often used interchangeably with one another.
It is played like this on the guitar in the key of A:
Visualise the Phrygian mode around the A minor chord highlighted in red.
When harmonised, Phrygian gives the following series of chords:
TRIAD Chord Type
SEVENTH Chord Types
Example in the key of A Phrygian
i minor 7 (extensions b9, 11, b13)
A minor 7
bII major 7 (extensions 9, #11, 13)
Bb major 7
biii 7 (extensions 9, 11, 13)
iv minor 7 (extensions 9, 11, b13)
D minor 7
v minor b5
V minor 7b5 (extensions b9, 11, b13)
E minor 7b5
bVI major 7 (extensions 9, 11, 13)
F major 7
bvii minor 7 (extensions 9, 11, 13)
G minor 7
However because of Phrygian’s very dark nature, writing chord progressions using only diatonic chords can sound somewhat awkward. As mentioned previously, in rock guitar we can get around this by using riff-based power chord backings and simply using the Phrygian mode over them, or we can use upper structure triads (slash chords) to imply the complex Phrygian over a simple bass pattern.