Writing Exotic Music with Phrygian Dominant- 5th mode

hrygian Dominant is the fifth mode of Harmonic Minor and one of my favorite scales due to its exotic and dramatic sound. This video goes over the basics, as well as the chords in the scale and many methods of applying it all to making music across different instruments, including how to write solos and leads. This scale is very close in structure to the Byzantine scale (AKA Double Harmonic Major).


Please note, this transcription was computer generated and has not been checked for errors. However, I do hope you find it helpful. Be sure to check out The Ultimate Modal Poster!

The ambitious music student in their Pursuit for musical knowledge will travel far and wide in search of more exotic and dramatic sounding scales for many that Journey ends when they discover phrygian dominant the fifth mode of harmonic minor.

Hey, I'm Jake lizzio. And in this video we're going to be exploring one of my favorite scales for agenda.

Dominant we're going to go through the theory on how do we build the scale? How do we figure out the chords? I'm also going to show you examples of where we've heard this in popular music, but more importantly we're going to be talking a lot in this video on how do we use the scale? How do we be musical with it? So before you start this video, I do have two videos. You should probably watch first. I've won on the phrygian scale. I also have one on harmonic minor and those two are going to go through the concepts of what is a mode and they're also going to explain the harmonic minor scale. So I really do strongly recommend those as prerequisite videos to this one. But even if you don't know much Theory, As long as you know this scale you can actually make a lot of awesome sounding music right out of the gate. So let's get started a phrygian dominant scale can be thought of as just a phrygian scale but we've taken that third note and we've just sharped it. So now it is a natural third or a major 3rd as opposed to a minor third. And if I want to do that in the key of E, that would be give me the notes E F G sharp a b c d down those same exact notes.

Now. You can see here just by going up and down I start to get an idea. E of what the scale can really feel like even with just the tiniest embellishment. Maybe just a hammer on on top on the bottom.

You should start hearing that. This has a very very ethnic exotic foreign flavor to it. So our first application of the scale will literally just be going up and down it but what I like to do is I like to pedal on my root note. So have our low notes sustained. That's my e I'll just keep finger-picking that with my thumb and then at the same time, I'll just start going up the notes of that e phrygian dominant.

And you can hear you get a really nice flavor out of that.

As opposed to just going up and down the scale without having a droned pedal note on the Baseline and hopefully that should kind of evoke that imagery of the Middle East and that's not a coincidence. I mean, this is a middle eastern scale.

It's an essential scale in Arabic music. It's known as hejaz and we hear it in Turkey. We here in Egypt we hear it in Indian music as well. A lot of carnatic music has this idea of a low drone to note with the scale being played on top just like this now.

I cannot play the piano, but I have never let that stop. From playing the piano the cool thing about music theory is even if you're not like good at the instrument as long as you know the basics you can at least be musical with it. So I'm going to take the same idea and I'm just going to put it on the piano. I'll drone with my left hand some low E notes with my right hand. I'll just kind of go up and down this phrygian dominant scale and it's going to sound wonderful.

Now we really don't need any more Theory just to start writing risks with this. In fact, some of the songs that I'm going to give you here don't include any cords at all. It's just the idea of going up and down the scale. For example, The Offspring has a song called come out and play and it's just the first five notes of the scale with a little Bend IN, but also in progressive rock and metal Dream Theater writes a lot of songs and phrygian dominant. Here's an example from the song in the name of God.

And Tool as well the song example, I'm going to give you here is 46 and to were basically just in D phrygian dominant on the base.

But we'll talk about that song a little bit later right now. I want to figure out what chords are we allowed to play in phrygian dominant? If I started my first note and I try to build Triads off that I can get an E major Triad.

I'm also allowed to build an F. Major Triad off the second note on the third note. I can make a g full diminished off the fourth note. I can make an A Minor my five chord would be a b half diminished or be full diminished. My 6 quart is a see augmented and my seven chord is going to be just regular old miner now all these chords are playable in the key, but the ones that I Just you focus on are the one and that to the flap to so e2f. You should be able to hear their so much tension. Just between those two chords. I also really like using that flat 7 chord the D minor in this case. So just by using those three chords in my opinion, that's really all you need to develop that nice phrygian dominant sound. So maybe just give it a let Latin strumming pattern.

Here's my ear is my math minor.

Now remember how we were pedaling ovary or earlier on let's do the same thing here. Let's take my E chord and instead of playing a full F. Let's just keep e on the base but have F on top of it. So we have an F major over and that to me is like all you need to know about phrygian dominant right there that tire field develops very well just between those two chords huddled over and and that sound is very reminiscent of like the fake. Go that I do a lot of times. I'll do like a just an E major and then slide it over to an F position and you get an F major seven sharp eleven ovary. And if you surround that with the notes a phrygian dominant, I've got like a and then the notes of the scale you get that cool like mango sound, you know, it's my fake for Mike. I'm not actually a flamenco player and a little Spanish guitar. But if I have to fake it this is what I go to his just my phrygian dominant scale. Now. One of my favorite usage is a phrygian dominant as a lead device something. To write a lead line or a guitar solo with so I'm going to give you three or four examples and ideas that I'd like to consider when I'm using a scale like this and then I'm going to wrap them all together and put them into a little guitar solo here for you. So the first idea I want you to think about is using arpeggios as a lead player. I really like to arpeggiate the cord that's underneath. It helps me highlight the notes there. So for example, if my Jam track is going to be playing a major. I want to be may be thinking about using the notes or the knee major as a lead player on top of that and if the chords playing asks, I want to be thinking about using the notes of an FRP.

However, let's spice up our f a little bit if I look at the notes, I'm allowed to play I can play more than just an F major. I can play an F major with a sharp 4 and I really like shark fours. That's a tritone.

So I really like to add that into my arpeggios.

What I've decided to do and make it a little slidy is instead of playing my arpeggio and picking through it. I'm going to just slide this arpeggio and make it a little bit more Legato.

Also diminished 7th arpeggios. I love diminished 7th arpeggios. I did a whole video on them. And since I have a Diminished 7th chord in Mikey, I'm going to use that to my advantage and use these nice little diminish shapes and even though it might not fit in even if I'm not playing a diminished chord, let's still play the arpeggio on top. It sounds nice. If I got this low E and this climbing diminished on top of it. Also pedal Point can also mean returning to a note. It's doesn't mean always a peddling tone wear something underneath it. So in phrygian dominant if I keep returning to a specific note likey my tonic I could come up with a cool way to play phrygian dominant.

Like that by constantly pedaling to my open E string and I get some really neat little guitar lines like this. I also have an open B string and B is a really important note in my E major chord. That's the fifth. So I could play through fridging and dominant and pedal to the note B just like this on my second string and that's a cool idea as well. Now in the solo here. What I decided to do is do it like Polly metrically we're in for for but I wanted to do like a 10 note phrase. So I did one two, three, four, five six, seven eight. Nine. Ten. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven eight nine ten, and it kind of left me. Between the measures and then eventually I was able to sink back up with the for for afterwards and you really can't go wrong with just going up and down the scale. This is such a flavorful scale and I think that's really unique about phrygian dominant. If you go up and down Dorian, you know, not a lot of flavors going to develop if there's no context there you really need the cords behind it for the Dorian scale to sound unique but phrygian dominant just by going up and down all that color and all that flavor starts coming out of it. So why not just go up and down the scale if you're in the middle of a solo it's going to sound pretty good and last but not least. I want to bring back the Drone I idea on my open E string by letting that open E string ring out as I'm playing beef be phrygian dominant all the other strings and you hear that gives me a really nice like imitation sitar sound Brock got that high droning.

So if I take all these ideas thrown together on top of a Jam track, here's what it's going to sound.

Now that Jam track is courtesy of Chess. He runs an awesome YouTube channel, and if you're into playing lead and improvising leads, I highly recommend you go over there and check it out. I have so much fun. Just click on any video hit play turn on really loud and start playing along. It's great practice improvising over these different exotic tracks. Now if this is all new stuff to you, I just want to warn you about musical malpractice.

This is such an easy scale to use and it sounds so cool. When you first Discover it it's easy to overdo it. So I do recommend learning to dilute all of the real dramatic power of this. Gail a good example of that is in the song 46 and to buy tool the the Riff is in phrygian dominant, but after just a few measures the guitars come in with a flat 3 instead of a natural 3 by bringing in that flat three instead of the natural three, it really kind of tampers down the the dramatic nature of this scale and then they go right back to it in the following measure. So my advice is you know Learn to use this stuff sparingly maybe doing sections and phrygian dominant or just little riffs and phrygian dominant before you go back to a parallel minor or a parallel or a related minor scale as well, but it can be a little much if you do entire sections in phrygian dominant. So just watch out. So I hope you enjoy this video. If you do like videos like this and you want to see more you can consider supporting my patreon page these lessons really wouldn't exist. If it weren't for the fine folks over there who have subscribed to me, but if you can't do that, I understand just like comment favorite all that kind of stuff helps me out. I will see you next time.


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