Phrygian Scale Question

roastbeast

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How do relative minors work with phrygian scale?

For example, if a song is in the key of Am, which phrygian scale would I apply to jam with the song?

Mahalo!
 

ripock

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sorry for being terse up above, but I was in a hurry. Am, or to use its modular name A Aiolian, is the sixth mode of C major. E Phrygian is the third mode. A Aiolian and E Phrygian will have the same notes but in a different order. E Phrygian will have that funky middle-eastern vibe but since all the notes are identical, it will be a cinch to sound decent since all the notes are from C major.
 

roastbeast

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sorry for being terse up above, but I was in a hurry. Am, or to use its modular name A Aiolian, is the sixth mode of C major. E Phrygian is the third mode. A Aiolian and E Phrygian will have the same notes but in a different order. E Phrygian will have that funky middle-eastern vibe but since all the notes are identical, it will be a cinch to sound decent since all the notes are from C major.
No apologies necessary. Your explanation is appreciated. I'm self-taught, so even just knowing E phrygian can be used to jam to key of Am is very helpful. At the moment, the modes are still above my head.

Would it be safe to say if a song is in key of Fm I can apply C phrygian scale to jam to it?

Mahalo Rip 🙏
 

ripock

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No apologies necessary. Your explanation is appreciated. I'm self-taught, so even just knowing E phrygian can be used to jam to key of Am is very helpful. At the moment, the modes are still above my head.

Would it be safe to say if a song is in key of Fm I can apply C phrygian scale to jam to it?

Mahalo Rip 🙏
Man! all this math is making my head hurt. Unless I am mistaken, F Aiolian an C Phryian are both in the key of Ab. If that's correct, then what you say is true.
 

roastbeast

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Man! all this math is making my head hurt. Unless I am mistaken, F Aiolian an C Phryian are both in the key of Ab. If that's correct, then what you say is true.
Rip, given that scales have a mathematical formula to them, I'm using the circle of 5ths as reference. As C and Am are relative major / minor for pentatonic scale, I'm taking the relationship of Am key and E major phrygian scale on circle of 5ths and applied it to Fm key to get C major as the relative phrygian scale. No idea if this is right or wrong, just running it by you. I can test by ear later.
 

ripock

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plus, we all know that we started ukulele to pick up chicks, right? Well...my wife hates the Phyrgian mode. Use it is counter-productive.
 

Mike $

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In C the harmonized chords are associated with modes. They are C (1. Ionian), Dm (2. Dorian), Em (3. Phrygian) F (4. Lydian) G (5. Mixolydian) Am (6. Aeolian) and Bdim (7. Locrian). Since A minor is the relative minor to C, they use the same notes and have all the same relative modes. And each key has it's own relative modes depending on the scale degree of the notes. So the relative dorian mode of G is A, and its chord is Am. The Aeolian mode relative to G is E and it's chord is Em. So when you're jamming, you won't play only one mode or scale, you will switch off depending on the chord you're on. It can be very interesting if you switch up the modes and the chords to play unexpected notes. This you should experiment with beforehand to see what sounds good. So, your phrygian mode may sound good sometimes, but not always. Check out the Phrygian Dominant mode of the Harmonic Minor scale for a fun sound.
 
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roastbeast

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plus, we all know that we started ukulele to pick up chicks, right? Well...my wife hates the Phyrgian mode. Use it is counter-productive.
I've read phrygian is used in flamenco guitar and I play with a flamenco guitarist.
 

DuckyI

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To add to the discussion above: think about whether the tune you are playing is based on the major modes, or on on of the minor modes (melodic minor being most common in Western music after the major modes).

More than anything, you shouldn't think too hard about scales in improvising, but instead think about chords tones and 'colour' notes. Use these to construct meaningful melodies.
 

roastbeast

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In C the harmonized chords are associated with modes. They are C (1. Ionian), Dm (2. Dorian), Em (3. Phrygian) F (4. Lydian) G (5. Mixolydian) Am (6. Aeolian) and Bdim (7. Locrian). Since A minor is the relative minor to C, they use the same notes and have all the same relative modes. And each key has it's own relative modes depending on the scale degree of the notes. So the relative dorian mode of G is A, and its chord is Am. The Aeolian mode relative to G is E and it's chord is Em. So when you're jamming, you won't play only one mode or scale, you will switch off depending on the chord you're on. It can be very interesting if you switch up the modes and the chords to play unexpected notes. This you should experiment with beforehand to see what sounds good. So, your phrygian mode may sound good sometimes, but not always. Check out the Phrygian Dominant mode of the Harmonic Minor scale for a fun sound.
There's a lot of content here I'm still learning about. I know my Ionian, Aeolian since they are pretty much the same just starting on different notes. I know my pentatonic and blues scales version of these. My flamenco buddy talks about phrygian so I was wondering how to apply that.

So, if I'm understanding the modes correctly, if a song is in key of C you would take the C phrygian scale, move it up to G scale (relative to Em) and play those notes to jam to a song in key of C with the phrygian sound?
 

roastbeast

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To add to the discussion above: think about whether the tune you are playing is based on the major modes, or on on of the minor modes (melodic minor being most common in Western music after the major modes).

More than anything, you shouldn't think too hard about scales in improvising, but instead think about chords tones and 'colour' notes. Use these to construct meaningful melodies.
Thanks for the tip Duckyl. I don't think too hard, but want to make sure I'm getting a good sound too.
 

Mike $

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...I know my Ionian, Aeolian since they are pretty much the same just starting on different notes. I know my pentatonic and blues scales version of these. My flamenco buddy talks about phrygian so I was wondering how to apply that.
In fact if you are talking about the C Ionian and the A Aeolian modes having the same notes, you are correct. Also the D Dorian has the same notes, the E Phrygian has the same notes, the F Lydian has the same notes, the G Mixolydian has the same notes and the B Locrian also has the same notes. They all use the same notes as the C major scale but the difference is, they all start on different notes, or degrees of the C scale. Do you realize this? It is very important. Every Ionian scale you can think of has different relative modes. Do you know the intervals of the major scale? Do you know what a whole step and a half step is on your fingerboard? These are important things to know when you are getting into modes. They go hand in hand. They change with each progressing mode in the order that I delineated in my first post. I don't want to explain if you already know the basic building blocks of the modes, but will if you don't.

So, if I'm understanding the modes correctly, if a song is in key of C you would take the C phrygian scale, move it up to G scale (relative to Em) and play those notes to jam to a song in key of C with the phrygian sound?
Not exactly. As I alluded to in part A of this post, Each major scale has it's own relative modes and they don't usually mix very well with each other. Let me try to give an explanation of what you don't seem to be getting. You can play in the C phrygian scale but C Phrygian is not relative to the key of C major, so you will be using a different set of notes...not the notes of the C major scale. If you play the notes of the C Phrygian mode, you will be using the notes of the Ab major scale but starting on the third note of that scale, which happens to be C. then the next note will be Db then Eb then F and so on.

Playing a C phrygian scale then moving it up to G relative to Em doesn't make any sense. In the key of G, E is the relative minor and E starts the relative Aeolian mode to G. In G the relative Phrygian mode would be B Phrygian, B is the third degree/note of the G scale and starting on that note and playing the same notes as the G major scale gives you the B Phrygian mode. B C D E F# G A. This brings me back to the intervals of the modes/scales. The Phrygian mode always goes Half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step from B back to B in this case.

Try finding songs that use the phrygian mode for the melody. The Simpson's Theme is one. Listen to how that sounds to get an idea of how the notes work together.
 
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roastbeast

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In fact if you are talking about the C Ionian and the A Aeolian modes having the same notes, you are correct. Also the D Dorian has the same notes, the E Phrygian has the same notes, the F Lydian has the same notes, the G Mixolydian has the same notes and the B Locrian also has the same notes. They all use the same notes as the C major scale but the difference is, they all start on different notes, or degrees of the C scale. Do you realize this? It is very important. Every Ionian scale you can think of has different relative modes. Do you know the intervals of the major scale? Do you know what a whole step and a half step is on your fingerboard? These are important things to know when you are getting into modes. They go hand in hand. They change with each progressing mode in the order that I delineated in my first post. I don't want to explain if you already know the basic building blocks of the modes, but will if you don't.


Not exactly. As I alluded to in part A of this post, Each major scale has it's own relative modes and they don't usually mix very well with each other. Let me try to give an explanation of what you don't seem to be getting. You can play in the C phrygian scale but C Phrygian is not relative to the key of C major, so you will be using a different set of notes...not the notes of the C major scale. If you play the notes of the C Phrygian mode, you will be using the notes of the Ab major scale but starting on the third note of that scale, which happens to be C. then the next note will be Db then Eb then F and so on.

Playing a C phrygian scale then moving it up to G relative to Em doesn't make any sense. In the key of G, E is the relative minor and E starts the relative Aeolian mode to G. In G the relative Phrygian mode would be B Phrygian, B is the third degree/note of the G scale and starting on that note and playing the same notes as the G major scale gives you the B Phrygian mode. B C D E F# G A. This brings me back to the intervals of the modes/scales. The Phrygian mode always goes Half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step from B back to B in this case.

Try finding songs that use the phrygian mode for the melody. The Simpson's Theme is one. Listen to how that sounds to get an idea of how the notes work together.
Oo, ok. Did not know different modes of C major scale still has same notes but start on diff notes. That clears a lot up.

I was thinking the phrygian mode that can be applied to a song in the key of C would be C phrygian to get a different sound using different intervals, that would hit different notes not in the C major scale, but your explanation of how the modes works clears my misunderstanding up. If I'm understanding modes correctly then, you can get different sounds from different modes, but not because they are using notes that are different from the C major scale, but because the different modes start on different notes and have varying intervals?
 

Mike $

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Oo, ok. Did not know different modes of C major scale still has same notes but start on diff notes. That clears a lot up.

I was thinking the phrygian mode that can be applied to a song in the key of C would be C phrygian to get a different sound using different intervals, that would hit different notes not in the C major scale, but your explanation of how the modes works clears my misunderstanding up.
If I'm understanding modes correctly then, you can get different sounds from different modes, but not because they are using notes that are different from the C major scale, but because the different modes start on different notes and have varying intervals?
You will have to try it out on different songs, sometimes it may sound cool, sometimes not. Also, interesting music doesn't follow the rules. Try playing the same melody using the different modes. Maybe you have heard someone play through a song in a major key then play it in the minor...well, you can do that with all the modes. At first it is difficult, but when you get the hang of it and are familiar with some or all the modes it gets easy to do on the fly with a simple enough melody. Another thing, every key works the same way as C does. They all have relative modes and they all follow the same rules. They all have 7 modes. And they progress the same way. So it's pretty easy to understand how they are relatively the same. Just follow the patterns and go through the notes in alphabetical order. If you are playing in Bb, you know that the next mode after Ionian is Dorian and will start on the C note, then the Phrygian will start on the D note, to Eb, to F to G to A and back to Bb Locrian.

Another thing to know is that sometimes you can use the modes to play all over the neck if you memorize the patterns of the finger positions and just adjust them to the key you are in. Say you're playing in C then the chord progression shifts to F, you can play notes from the F Lydian mode, then when it changes to G7 you can play the G Mixolydian scale. And so on for every chord...but you don't have to. These scales and modes are guidelines. It's fun to use passing tones outside of the scale, or you can borrow notes from other scales that work, like playing a minor pentatonic over a major chord. Or switch to melodic minor scale or harmonic minor scale and one of their modes. It takes a lot of practice to play that way and most people learn a few modes and stick to them. If you want to be comfortable, learn as much as you can handle and practice til you can play them in your sleep. Then move on. One thing about modes and scales...you almost never play all the way up or down a scale while you are jamming. Learn or make up fragments of scales that sound good and turn them into cool licks. Learn patterns and learn how to use them in any key.

It sounds like you are only interested in the Phrygian mode though and you play with a guy who plays flamenco guitar. Flamenco players often use the Phrygian Dominant scale (aka Phrygian Major, aka Andalusian scale, aka Spanish Gypsy scale...Freygish, etc...) which is the 5th mode of the Harmonic minor scale. Ask your friend if that is the scale he is telling you to learn. it has a flat 2, flat 6 and flat 7 in it. so in C that would be C, Db, E, F, G, Ab and Bb. It sounds like Indian, Turkish, Jewish and Flamenco music.
 

ripock

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I am at work right now, but if there's any interest I have a little chart of how I play the Phrygian Dominant on uke. Obviously it isn't anything special. Anyone with five minutes could do the same thing. However I can upload it this evening if anyone wants it.
 

merlin666

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I don't understand most of the posts, but when I look up a phrygian A scale it is very close to an Am scale except that it has a Bb instead of the B.
 

ripock

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I have been a little more mindful of my phrygian since this thread. I don't have the gumption nor the knowledge to write a long analysis of it. However I do use it a lot and on the practical level what I like about the phrygian is that is offers in one paradigm the ability to play inside or outside a chord. If you're playing over a minor chord, the phrygian has those notes so that you can play something very normal. However it also has some notes that are not regular and can help you stand out. I realize that someone could play whichever note he or she wants, but that requires thought. The phrygian gives you some pre-sets to push the boundaries without having to think.

I also like the physical layout of the phrygian shape. It allows you to move along the fret board in horizontal or diagonal lines and, again, without thinking you're arpeggiating minor or at least minor-ish chords. And the reason I emphasize the "not thinking" aspect is that music happens fast and you don't always have the luxury of time and planning. So it is nice to be able to have go-to's when improvising.
 

ripock

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As Phrygian is a relative mode of both Ionian (major) and natural minor (Aeolian), the fretboard patterns you use for Phrygian are the same as for those modes. In other words, Phrygian offers no advantage in that respect. If I recall, you like to play in the "key of E" and if you also favor Phrygian, that would mean E Phrygian, which in scale pattern is identical to C major and A natural minor.

Because such patterns are movable, the same patterns are essentially used in every key in major, minor, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian and (should you ever have a need) Locrian modes. The patterns just shift and cycle on the neck.
Thanks for explaining why I do what I do. I just do it and don't think too much about it. I usually play G# Phrygian since, as you kindly remembered, I tend to play in E.