Phrygian Mode Guitar Scale

Phrygian Mode Guitar Scale


The Phrygian modal scale is constructed on the third note of a major scale. The pattern of whole and half steps is as follows:


If you follow this pattern, you will create a scale which begins on the 3rd note of the major scale and has the same key signature as the major scale.


E Phrygian-- E F G A B C D E

B Phrygian-- B C D E F# G A B

***NOTE: There are 2 ways to think about the construction of the Phrygian Mode Guitar Scale:

1. Begin with the major scale of the same name and flat the 2nd, 3rd,6th and 7th notes. For example, D Dorian would be the D Major Scale with a flatted 2nd,3rd, 6th, and 7th. (D Eb F G D Bb C D)

2. Begin with the 3rd note of the "tonic" major scale and write a scale that has the same key signature as the tonic. For example, the C# Phrygian Scale is a scale beginning and ending on C# with the key signature of A.

Using The Phrygian Mode Guitar Scale

Like the dorian mode, the phrygian mode is minor. While the dorian mode is bright sounding, the phrygian mode sounds dark and exotic. The combination of the minor 6th and 2nd is what gives this mode its exotic flavor.

The phrygian scale can be used over minor 7th chords. It is also often used over a iii - IV chord progression very well. Example: Cmin7-Dbmaj7 (key of Ab major). A lot of heavy metal players like to use this chord progression.

The phrygian mode often is played over sus4 chords. This is because suspended 4th chords don't contain 3rds and the minor 3rd of the scale gets nutralized in a way. You may want to even consider the min 3rd as an augmented 9th which makes it seem compatible with dominant chords. Jazz guys like Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock used to like to use the prygian mode over a B9 sus4 chord.

If you need to review chord progressions, here is a link to a free lesson on this site. The link opens in a new window.

Chord Progressions

Free Printable Scales Charts

These scale charts are in the formats of traditional notation AND guitar tablature. They are pdf files so you will need the free Adobe reader to view and print them. You can download the reader free from the Adobe website. Please remember to expand the viewer to 100%.

Each file has charts for 4 different keys. I trust that the charts will be useful to you. Have fun!

Phrygian Mode: Keys of C G D and A

Phrygian Mode: Keys of E B F# and C#

Phrygian Mode: Keys of Ab Eb Bb and F

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