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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Phrygian Minor Mode

Back to the bass lessons now: today focusing on the Phrygian mode. Remember, a mode is "an arrangement of the eight diatonic notes or tones of an octave according to one of several fixed schemes of their intervals." What does that mean again?

Simply, within a scale (such as the major scale), there exist other scales by simply starting on a different note. For example, C Major is a scale that has the notes C D E F G A B C, right? But, if you start on the third note of the major scale and play up or down to that same note for an octave, you have a mode, namely the Phrygian mode. At a closer look, we see the third note of C major is E played up an octave is E F G A B C D E. This succession of notes is called Phrygian Minor Mode.

Further, every Phrygian Minor will have the same construction of Whole and Half steps. For example:
E to F is a Half step,
to G is a Whole step,
to A is a Whole step,
to B is a Whole step,
to C is a Half Step,
to D is a Whole step,
D to E is a Whole step

So, you end up with a construction pattern of H W W W H W.

It's easier to envision the whole and half steps on a keyboard. Take a look:

To put it all in perspective, think about C Major having eight notes (C D E F G A B C) and every one of those notes has its own scale, referred to as a mode. So, look at the list below:

i. Major scale and its modes (Example C Major)
C. Ionian (aka Major Scale)-- W W H W W W H (C D E F G A B C)
D. Dorian ----------------- W H W W W H W (D E F G A B C D)
E. Phrygian ---------------H W W W H W W (E F G A B C D E)
F. Lydian ----------------- W W W H W W H (F G A B C D E F)
G. Mixolydian ----------- W W H W W H W (G A B C D E F G)
A. Aeolian (Natural Minor)-W H W W H W W (A B C D E F G A)
B. Locrian ---------------- H W W H W W W (B C D E F G A B)

Looking ahead, we'll cover all the modes of the Major Scale. It's important to begin to distinguish the over all sound of the scales/modes that you study, namely whether it is major or minor sounding. The key difference is the interval or space between the first note of the scale and the third note.

If the space is 4 half steps, then it is major, e.g., between C to E there is:
C to C# (Half step),
C# to D (Half),
D to D# (Half),
D# to E (Half),

a total of 4 half steps; this interval is called a major third.

If the space is 3 half steps, then it is minor, e.g., between C to Eb there is:
C to C# (Half step),
C# to D (Half),
D to Eb (Half),

a total of 3 half steps; this interval is called a minor third.

Most scales and modes will be have either a major or minor third; thus, giving them a sound of either major or minor. Begin to listen for these qualities while studying and playing these modes.

The Phrygian Mode is a minor sounding mode. Take a listen in the video:

***New Video Coming Shortly***


Melanie said...

I think the keyboard helps a lot. When I was just reading it, I was having a hard time picturing what you were saying, not actually being a bass player, but since I at least know a little on the piano, I can see it a lot better.

Anonymous said...

What type chords can you use the phrygian scale over?

Vintage Cab I used on MM debut (this is my dad's); it has two 15" Jensen speakers.