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It's actually can be looked at modally as a chords from the Phrygian/Phrygian Dominant scales. The Phrygian scale due to its lowered third is viewed as a minor scale and thus contributes to the "sadness" you hear especially since the A would be the 3rd of the Phygian scale giving the progression a slightly more minor sound even using just major chords. ...
There's a much more simplified explanation of the chord progression. Let's start off by looking at the notes of each chord: D (D F# A) F# (F# A# C#) So if you want to just move between the two chords over and over again you would most likely see the notes move in this fashion: D -> C# -> D F# -> F# -> F# A -> A# -> A Notice how ...
I believe the sad impression is most of all due to the chromatic descent B - A♯ - A embedded in these chords. It has a kind of disillusioning effect: you start out on a nice major third of the G chord. But then you drop down to F♯, whose A♯ third is enharmonic equivalent to the G chord's minor third. Normally this wouldn't be perceived as ...
Aeolian with a diminished first, while that is possible in a theoretical sense, isn't likely to appear in actual music. What I hear when listening to the first bars of the track is an emphasis on the minor third gap between the sixth and seventh degree of the harmonic minor scale (I don't have a keyboard in front of me to confirm the actual notes, but see ...
I feel more of a resolve when the D moves to the F# chord, thus I will say that F# is the tonic here, which makes the D chord the NbII (Neapolitan flat II) of the V (C#). Although the NbII is typically in first inversion, it isn't forbidden to be in root, as it is here.
If you look at the notes starting on E, you see the scale pattern for the harmonic major scale which on E would result in. E-F#-G#-A-B-C-D# This scale can be looked at as the 6th of that mode. The specific name it has is Lydian Augmented #2 for the augmented triad built from the tonic and the raised supertonic.
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