The Phrygian mode
The home of chord III
Preview Video Lessons
A Phrygian scale shapes
When to use the Phrygian mode
Phrygian is probably the easiest mode to recognize due to its semitone intervals between the root – b2nd as well as between the 5th – b6th. These semitones give it a flavor that lends itself well to fast and aggressive playing.
Should you play Phrygian with a lot of distortion and play it very quickly, you would fit well into the heavy metal scene. On a nylon strung guitar, you would enter the wonderful world of Flamenco music.
Whatever style you prefer, Phrygian will always appear naturally every time you play over chord III.
For a guitarist, the best way to approach Phrygian is to add notes to the five Minor Pentatonic shapes.
To build Phrygian from the Minor Pentatonic using intervals looks like this:
Connect Phrygian scale shapes
This video lesson demonstrates how to connect all Phrygian shapes using the root of A as a starting point.
When you can do it in A as the video demonstrates, try it in D, G, C, F and all other keys.
In the step by step guitar courses, we play this exercise in all 12 keys and push the BPM.
We also vary the rhythm of the exercise and find the Phrygian mode in popular songs.
Phrygian and the cycle of 4th
Your final exercise takes the Phrygian mode and runs it through the cycle of 4th, finding the closest shape possible.
The full pattern flows like this:
A Phrygian – Em shape, D Phrygian – Am shape, G Phrygian – Dm shape, C Phrygian – Gm shape, F Phrygian – Cm shape.
Before it repeats itself a fret up, starting at Bb.
When you can play the exercise without making any mistakes – start pushing the BPM.