PHRYGIAN - Understanding and Using the Third Mode of Major

Phrygian is the third mode of the Major scale. It has a uniquely dark feel to it compared to the other modes, thanks to the flat 2nd scale degree which forms a dissonant minor 2nd interval to our tonic. In this video, we learn how the scale itself is built, and also how it is a mode of Major. We also learn the chords of phrygian, and also explain several ways one can compose their own music using the phrygian mode. It's an awesome scale that doesn't get a LOT of use for reasons that I don't go into in this video. It is the last of the video lessons on modes that I plan on doing for a while, I'm not too excited about doing a lesson on Locrian! But my future videos will be referencing all my modal videos, expecially when I start getting into modal mixture / borrowed chords.



 Please note, this transcription was computer generated and has not been checked for errors.  However, I do hope you find it helpful.   

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Hey, I'm Jake lizzio. And in this video we're going to talk about the phrygian scale. What is it? And how do we build it? And where have we heard this before an actual music and then we'll also talk about what we can do is composers to get the most out of the scale and really kind of enjoy some of the awesome flavor that's imbued into it. So let's get started phrygian is really easy to understand if you already know what a minor scale is.

So all we have to do to make a phrygian scale is take a minor scale and then flat that second note and the example will do is a I'm going to build a phrygian and I want Start by thinking of a minor a minor is just ABCDEFG.

If I take my second note, which was be in a flat it then I have a B flat c d so pretty simple scale to be able to build if you compare it to minor if you compare it to Major. I want you to think about the scale degrees. We have a one a flat to a flat three of four a five a flat 6 flat 7, and maybe you can here already. The phrygian has got a dark sound to it. You're the tension that exists there in my route and my flat to right there. There's a lot of nastiness right there. That's like the Jaws theme song is just back and forth between us a minor second like that.

So having that to kick off our scale is going to really color everything we do in phrygian and I want you to listen to some of the examples of where phrygians actually used. I can't give you full examples of songs that are in phrygian that doesn't really commonly happen and I couldn't find any examples of it, but it's pretty That we use little bits of the scale or little sections that are in phrygian because it has such a dark quality to it. The first example I'll give you is from Symphony of Destruction by Megadeth the rift there sounds like this.

So that would be e phrygian were using an E and F and a g and our tonal center right? There is easy. We've also got the notes B and C surrounding there. So all the notes of e phrygian surrounding right there focusing on E. Also Missy Elliott has a song called get your freak on in the main riff. There is one two and three and four one two, and three and four.

And that's an F to a g flat to a see so I've got a root of flat to and 1/5 now. That's only two three different notes. So I mean that's not enough to spell out a whole scale. But if you listen to the other notes in that track, there's some synth layers that come in and even some of the vocal layers it all adds up to being an f phrygian and it gives it a really dark creepy sound notice that even the imagery in that music video. Not of its bright or Cheerios all really dark spooky Halloween style stuff a lot of electronic music started using phrygian in the flat to specifically to kind of create a Kerfield the early example I could find of this is an awesome song called never come back by cast product. It's got that classic early cheesy synth line in phrygian, and it really gives it this like comically dark sound effects and later on. I started hearing this crop up more in psychedelic trance that flat to creates a lot of anxiety and tension used by bands. Like astral projection or Shpongle the example I'm going to give you is a song called searching for UFOs.

We've got the weirdness of that flat to to kind of add a little bit more interest into what would normally be a dark psychedelic trance song A lot of people use the song Wherever I May Roam by Metallica as a reference for And although that song does have a lot of phrygian going on and there's so many notes that they use in the stand in the song that it's hard for me to just call it free via Metallica has a tendency to use a lot of notes and I think in this on they use like all 12, so it's not fair just to call it phrygian. They do kind of start encroaching upon phrygian dominant, which we'll talk about a little at the end of this video. So that's where we've heard it in actual music, but I want to give you a little bit of advice on what you might be able to do to write your own music with it. I want to figure out the chords of this scale. And to do that all I need to keep in mind is that this is a mode of the major scale.

Phrygian is the third mode which means that all the notes I played they came from a major scale. Which major scale did they come from? Well, I'm going to ask myself.

What what major scale has a is the third note and the answer is f so all the notes. I played came from F. Major all the chords. I'm going to play come from F major.

So if I know the chords of F major, which you probably should know at this point in time if I figure out the chords of F major, all I gotta do is play those chords just starting on the third chord and I Not my notes of a phrygian or my chords of a phrygian.

However, I'm going to rewrite the order of them. I'm also going to rewrite my Roman numerals so I can see that my tonic is minor. I can see that my 2 chord is a flatted to chord and then it's major and that helps me figure out these chords. I'm going to have a minor is my first I'll have B flat major as my 2 chord c major for my three D minor for my 4E half diminished B, my five my six will be F major and my 7 will be G minor.

Now when I'm writing in phrygian, I really advise you stay on the route always kind of hang out on your tonic today. That's going to be a if I hang out on a for a long time and maybe bring in that flat to record start maybe getting a little bit of that fridging sounds of I don't want to wander too far from my one.

I really want to come back to it at all points in time to keep this phrygians layer developed because if I hang out on like before that D minor That sounds great.

But it's gonna how all of a sudden sound like my time.

Right doesn't D Minor sound like home now and I'm trying to avoid that. I want a minor to sound like so I'm going to stay here on a minor.

I'm going to surround it by notes of a phrygian and I'm always gonna If I Leave chords, I'm gonna come back to a minor really solidify that point as my home cord. So those are the chords of phrygian and like I said, I really try to focus on the 1 the 2 and the 7 and just by keeping that in mind I should be able to start. Creating some phrygian Madness already since it's so dark. Naturally. I think some low hanging fruit to pick would be like, let's write like a demonic in toning chanting style Resurrection theme something to like awaken an underground beast. That's laid dormant for centuries like Cthulhu, so I should be able to just maybe pedal some low bass notes on whatever. My tonic will be I haven't written this yet. But I'm I'm thinking probably the lowest note I can sing as maybe a d, so maybe I'll pedal on a d and then on top of that in a higher octave. Start singing notes of D phrygian and maybe I'll pick some Latin some Latin words that you know, evoke some crazy symbols of the The Awakening Beast. Maybe do it backwards and reverse and add a lot of Reverb. I should be able to get something really dark really nasty and something that really kind of accents all the the darkness of that phrygian scale.

Now there's really nothing happy about the scale at all. So I think it would be fun. What if we took happy birthday, which is supposed to be a joyous and congratulatory song. What if we like rearrange the melody and the chord of happy birthday.

So it was in a phrygian key instead. So try to keep the melodic. The same obviously keep the Rhythm and the words the same. But if we change all the notes to phrygian, what would that sound? Like now?

I have to mention to you that phrygian has a very popular variant called phrygian dominant.

If you take the third note of my phrygian scale, which was C. If you raise it to make it a C sharp, then all of a sudden I have the phrygian dominant scale and you can hear this has even more of that exotic foreign flavor to it. And I'll do an entire video on phrygian dominant one of these days. I love the scale. It's a mode of harmonic minor. So if you know harmonic minor already, you can already start dabbling with phrygian dominant and it's got such a cool exotic flavor to it. We hear a lot of different bands compose with it Dream Theater and Tool, but it is closely related to phrygian and I figured I'd have to bring it up in this video. So I hope this gives you a little insight as to what phrygians all about and why you might be interested in learning it. It's a really cool sounding mode. And there's a lot of options if we started going on the acoustic instead and I started playing extended chords. I can actually get some really dark Jazzy sounds out of this as well. It doesn't all have to be like demon worshipping music or really, you know, dark dirge music you can get a little color out of there depending on how you arrange it and the instrumentation that you use So if you like this video you can thank the folks over my patreon page for supporting the production of these videos. You can join them over on my page. I've linked to it below in the description, but You can't do that. That's fine. Just like subscribe share these videos with your friends and I'll plan on seeing you next time.


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