For those of you who have been following my series on guitar modes, you already know that I don’t waste words when it comes to explaining the theory and application surrounding each mode. However, keep-in-mind that there is rich history surrounding each mode. When you have time, research the history. I think you’ll find it very interesting.
Thus far, my approach to explaining the modes is more contemporary. This is done intentionally, as not to confuse the reader with different historic views and applications. However, in the future, I will build on what I’ve already explained in the entire series. Once again, this is intentional. Why? Foundation! It’s important that the reader develop a strong foundation in understanding the modes in their purest forms. Thereafter, more in-depth theory will become easier to understand.
The Phrygian Mode is created by lowering the 2nd degree of the Aeolian Mode, resulting in a very dark musical effect. It’s all about color (see previous articles).
In order for a true Phrygian tonality to emerge, study the following Phrygian Mode elements (essential to Phrygian.
1.) The Tonic note must utilized (established).
2). The minor 3rd scale step (b3rd) must be used to establish a minor scale quality.
3) The b2 (lowered 2nd) scale tone must be used because it is the characteristic sound of Phrygian.
Remember, The Phrygian Mode is a specific type of minor scale. It’s tonality is unique. In addition, Phrygian chords and Phrygian chord progressions are also unique. Study the following Phrygian chord elements.
1.) The Tonic I mi chord must always be established.
2.) The bVII mi chord, the bII MA chord, and the V dim. chords should be used for Phrygian flavor.
Phrygian Sale Tones (E Phrygian): E-F-G-A-B-C-D-E
Phrygian Chord Progressions:
1.) Imi (Emi) progressing to the bVII mi (Dmi), progressing back to the tonic Imi (Emi). Emi-Dmi-Emi.
2.) Imi (Emi) progressing to the bIIMa (FMa), progressing back to the Imi tonic (Emi). Emi-FMa.
3.) Imi (Emi) progressing to the IVmi (Ami), progressing to the bVIImi (Dmi), back to Imi (Emi). Emi-Ami-Dmi-Imi.
4.) Imi (Emi), to bIIMA (FMa), to bVIImi (Dmi), to Imi (Emi). Emi-FMa-Dmi-Emi.
The Phrygian chord progressions referenced above are great progressions against the Phrygian Mode.
As explained earlier, there are other Phrygian applications. For example, The Phrygian Dominant Scale is created by raising the 3rd degree of the Phrygian Scale as we studied above. Many Spanish-Flamingo players alternate these two scales when employing a Flamingo style. In fact the Phrygian Dominant Scale is also referred to as the Spanish Gypsy Scale.
From here, the theory gets thicker and thicker. It is not the goal of this article to create confusion for the reader. The goal is to offer a quick and easy approach to understanding the Phrygian Mode. The quicker the understanding of Phrygian theory, the quicker one can execute performance. Once again, this is exactly why a solid foundation and understanding is so important. Knowledge is power. Please folks, never forget that. Knowledge is power!
For those of you who, for one reason or another, have been putting off your progression through education,,,please stop this go-nowhere procrastination. Education is the vehicle to musical power. Don’t take this lightly!
Make this year, the year that nothing will stop you from progressing as a guitarist. There is absolutely no reason that should prevent you from becoming a better guitarist. He who hesitates is bossed! Remember that. If you don’t take care of yourself…who will?
©2009 Michael E. Fletcher. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.