“Phrygian” is a mode that starts on the third note of a major scale. This is like thinking of the C major scale, also known as C Ionian, then shifting the whole thing from C to E. The result is the same set of notes as C major, but it has a totally different sound to it. It is like entering a different musical world with its own mood and its own special characteristics.
There is another way to think of Phrygian that I much prefer.
This other way means starting with natural minor, also known as Aeolian, then simply lowering the second note, which is called b2. This is the way I hear the Phrygian mode. As you can see, if you start with E natural minor, which is all white except for F#, when you lower 2 you get E Phrygian in the easiest possible way.
E Phrygian in is all white keys, so it should be your model for this mode.
For my composition I finally chose the name chose the name “Magic Carpet” to express my feeling of the mode. Phrygian can also be very expressive, even beautiful. Since the main feature is b2, the first five notes of the mode by themselves carry the sound perfectly. That means that the first five notes express something important even if degrees 6 and 7 are altered.
There is more here than just Phrygian.
I’m using various ornaments that go all the way back to Bach: mordents, short trills, slides called “Schleifers”, and so on. I modulate from E Phrygian to A Phrygian, Towards the middle I get into something very close to octatonic, which gives an even more mysterious sound. This sets up the possible sound of something based on octatonic. Then I use a B7 chord with b5 to get me back to E minor . The flat 5 chord comes directly from the whole tone scale.
So by mixing together these different components you hear something more complicated then just a mode, but the mode sound is prevalent enough so that its feeling dominates.
Writing something that people like, and want to play, and can play is the ultimate challenge for me, because such music has to be playable without years of experience. I hope I have succeeded here, and in the future I will know for sure by how many people ask to play this piece of music.