The phrygian mode | Free guitar lesson with guitar diagrams & patterns

jazz guitar scalesThe phrygian mode is the third mode of the major scale. There are seven modes named ionian, dorian, phrygian, lydian, mixolydian, aeolian and locrian. The phrygian mode is one of the three minor modes of the major scale, the other minor modes are called dorian, phrygian and aeolian (natural minor scale). The phrygian mode is a minor type scale because of its b3. It can be played over minor chords but it is rarely used because of its b2 scale tone.

E Phrygian mode E F G A B C D
Formula 1 b2 (b9) b3 4(11) 5 b6 (b13) b7
Intervals H W W W H W W

(W = whole step ; H = half step)

The phrygian mode can be applied into your guitar improvisations over the following chords :

min, min7, min7b9, 7sus4‚Äč

The phrygian mode in twelve keys

The phrygian mode always contain a b2, b3, b6 and b7. Here is a helpful chart to know the notes in every phrygian mode.

A Phrygian Mode A,Bb,C,D,E,F,G
Bb Phrygian Mode Bb,C,D,Eb,F,G, Ab
B Phrygian Mode B,C,D,E,F#,G,A
C Phrygian Mode C,Db,Eb,F,G,Ab,Bb
Db Phrygian Mode Db,Eb,F,Gb,Ab,Bb,Cb
D Phrygian Mode D,Eb,F,G,A,Bb,C
Eb Phrygian Mode Eb,Fb,Gb,Ab,Bb,Cb,Db
E Phrygian Mode E,F,G,A,B,C,D
F Phrygian Mode F,Gb,Ab,Bb,C,Db,Eb
F# Phrygian Mode F#,G,A,B,C#,D,E
G Phrygian Mode G,Ab,Bb,C,D,Eb,F
Ab Phrygian Mode Ab,Bb,Cb,Db,Eb,Fb,Gb

 

Other minor scales

Modes of the major scale

Modes of the harmonic minor scale

Modes of the melodic minor scale

 

Related triads, chords and arpeggios.

Because the phrygian mode is a minor type scale, triads are built in the same manner as the other minor scales (dorian and aeolian). That means that the minor triad related to this mode is made up of its root (1), minor third (b3) and  perfect fifth (5). This is the same principle for all the minor seventh arpeggios.

However, minor sixth and minor ninth arpeggios of  the phrygian mode are not the same as the other because of the b6 and the b9. Here is a list of the main arpeggios of this mode and how they are built. Notice that each example in the key of C :

  • C minor triad / chord : is made up of a root (C) minor third (Eb) and perfect fifth (G).
    • Related abbreviated chord symbols are : Cm, Cmin,C-.
C minor triad / chord C Eb G
Formula 1 b3 5

 

  • C minor seventh arpeggio / chord : root (C) minor third (Eb), perfect fifth (G) and minor seventh (Bb).
    • Related chords notation : Cmin7, Cmi7, C-7.
C minor seventh arpeggio / chord C Eb G Bb
Formula 1 3b 5 7b

 

  • C minor sixth arpeggio / chord : root (C) minor third (Eb), perfect fifth (G) and sixth (A).
    • Related chords notation : Cm6, Cmin6, C-6, Cm13, Cmin13.
C major sixth arpeggio / chord C Eb G Ab
Formula 1 b3 5 b6

 

  • C minor ninth arpeggio / chord  : root (C) minor third (Eb), perfect fifth (G), minor seventh (Bb) and ninth (D)
    • Related chords notation : Cmin9, Cmi9, C-9, Cm9.
C major ninth arpeggio / chord C E G B Db
Formula 1 b3 5 b7 b9


Taking account to the two previous charts, in comparison with the dorian mode's arpeggios that are discussed in this page, you can see the b6 instead of the 6 and the b9 instead of the 9.

You can also extand these arpeggios by adding the eleventh (11) which is F or even the thirteenth which is Ab.

Phrygian guitar diagrams

Here are two guitar patterns to play the phrygian mode on your guitar. To hear and perceive correctly the sound of this mode, it is recommended to play these patterns by starting with the "root".

Pattern 1 :

  • To play the E phrygian mode by starting with the lowest note (E), put your first finger on the sixth string at the twelfth fret. Be sure to play it ascending and descending.

Pattern 2 :

  • To play the E phrygian mode put your first finger on the fifth string to the seventh fret to play this pattern starting with the lowest root. 

Once you have learnt these patterns you have to play them in twelve keys by moving the root "R"  to the desired tonality while still preserving the intervals.

Pattern 1

Roots on the sixth, fourth and first string.

Phrygian mode guitar diagrams patterns

Pattern 2

Roots on the fifth and the third string.

Phrygian mode guitar diagrams patterns 2

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