Phrygian

The Phrygian mode

The home of chord III

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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:

Minor Pentatonic:
1
m3
4
5
b7
Phrygian:
b2
b6

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Preview Video Lessons

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.


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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.


Related Pages


Course

Learning how to play guitar is best done through playing and learning from songs.

The advanced songs require you to learn 7th note chords, arpeggios, and modal scales. This will be revolutionary for your understanding of the guitar fretboard.

To see all lessons in the advanced course, go to Advanced Guitar Course


Exercises

These are pretty advanced exercises. You’ll be playing 7th note chords, arpeggios and modes all over the neck.

But don’t fret – As you’ve already mapped out the fretboard with pentatonic scales and barre chords, extending the concept is actually really simple.

Preview the exercises from the course here: Advanced Guitar Lessons


Tunes

Learn how to play famous advanced songs.

‘Angels’, ‘Baby Won’t You Please Come Home’, ‘Blackbird’, ‘Cannonball’, ‘Close To You’, ‘Creepin’ In’, ‘Don’t Wait Too Long’, ‘I Shot The Sheriff’, ‘Over The Rainbow’, ‘Roxanne’, ‘Scarborough Fair’, ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’, ‘Take Me To The River’, ‘Tears In Heaven’, and ‘Wish You Were Here’.

To preview each song, go to Advanced Acoustic Songs


Sign Up Now

A monthly subscription with access to all acoustic and electric step by step lessons, each one designed to bring your guitar playing skills to the next level.

Including detailed, but bite-sized explanations on how the music theory of each song is applied to the neck.

To sign up now, go to Monthly Subscription