The Phrygian Mode | Guitar Lesson With Diagrams, Theory and Licks

What is The Phrygian Mode?

The Phrygian mode is the third mode of the major scale. It is one of the three minor modes of the major scale. It is a minor type scale spelled 1 - b2 - b3 - 4 - 5 - b6 - b7. It can be played over minor chords however 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 used in your guitar improvisations over the following chord types :

min, min7, min7b9, 7sus4?, mb6

How to Play the Phrygian Mode?

You will find on the right four shapes to play the Phrygian mode on guitar. Each diagram represent the Phrygian scale within one octave.

The tonic represented by the orange circle, gives the name of the scale.

Meaning that if you use the first shape starting with the lowest note (on the E string), and put your first finger on the sixth string at the third fret, you'll get a G Phrygian scale.

Phrygian mode for guitar

These two other shapes show you how to play the Phrygian scale within the space of two octaves (and a little bit more).

To hear and perceive correctly the sound of the Phrygian mode, it is recommended to play these patterns starting with the tonic (1).

Once you have learned these these shapes, try to play them in twelve keys by moving the root to the desired tonality while still preserving the intervals.

Phrygian mode for guitar one octave shapes

Phrygian Mode | 7 Notes Per String

The seven diagrams below show how the Phrygian mode looks all over the guitar neck.

Phrygian mode positions for guitar

What is the Difference Between Phrygian, Phrygian dominant and Phrygian b4.

There are two other Phrygian mode, the Phrygian dominant mode taken from the harmonic minor scale and the Phrygian b4 mode from the harmonic major scale. The Phrygian dominant scale is played over 7b9b13 chords. The Phrygian b4 is rarely used. Here is a quick comparison including the formulas.

Phrygian 1 b2 (b9) b3 4 (11) 5 b6 (b13) b7
Phrygian Dominant 1 b2 (b9) 3 4 (11) 5 b6 (b13) b7
Phrygian b4 1 b2 (b9) b3 b4 5 b6 (b13) b7



Comparison between phrygian modes for guitar

The Phrygian mode in twelve keys

When practicing scales on guitar it is important to play them in all twelve keys. The chart below provides the notes for each Phrygian scale.

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


Phrygian Mode Guitar Lesson - Tutorial With Scale and Chord Shapes.Theory, Charts & Licks

Phrygian Guitar Patterns

Here is a first pattern using the E Phrygian lick, ending on its related chord (Em7).

Phrygian guitar licks

This second example uses the E Phrygian mode ending with a Cmaj7 Arpeggio (C - E - G - B).

Phrygian guitar pattern

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Last edited: 2021-05-17

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