*Is there a more proper term than "transpose" for when you move a melody from one mode to another?
For this experiment I chose the Irish tune Rakes of Mallow because a) it's in the key of G, b) it's a relatively simple tune and c) it was the first tune I thought of! To do this I had to get the music theory part of my brain working. I knew that Phrygian was the mode starting on the 3rd note of the major scale, so in other words the G-major scale from B to B (B-C-D-E-F#-G-A-B) would be B-Phrygian.
|Rakes of Mallow in G-major|
|Rakes of Mallow in G-Phrygian|
Another interesting thing to point out is how the chords changed. Knowing that the G-Phrygian mode is really just the Eb-major scale starting on its 3rd note, I know that the G-Phrygian mode would use the exact same chords as the Eb-major scale. (The I chord in Phrygian is the III chord in Major, the II chord in Phrygian is the IV chord in Major, and so on). Using that logic, I think I wrote out the correct chords in the G-Phrygian version of Rakes of Mallow.
Rakes of Mallow is easy to play in G-major but very difficult and unusual feeling in G-Phrygian, partly because on a tenor banjo in the Irish tuning of GDAE you don't get to use any open strings when playing this melody in G-Phrygian. (I bet if I had put it in B-Phrygian it would have been much easier because those are the same notes as the G-major scale). But, I will say that by putting it in the Phrygian mode - with its half step between the 1st and 2nd notes of its scale - the tune takes on an almost Greek or Klezmer sound.
Listen and see what you think!