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

Formula Chart

 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

One Octave Shapes

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.

Two Octave Shapes

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 | 7 Notes Per String

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

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 between Phrygian modes 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

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

Phrygian Guitar Patterns

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

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

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Last edited: 2024-03-12