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Phrygian Dominant

Mike schools us in the art of the Phrygian Dominant scale.

Welcome Back! This lesson I will be showing you some examples from the Phrygian Dominant scale, which is the 5th mode of the harmonic minor scale. We covered the harmonic minor in a last month's lesson, but I want to spend a little more time with this mode in this lesson.

The Phrygian Dominant scale is used in a lot of different types of music—rock, metal, jazz, classical. The scale formula for this mode is 1, b2, 3, 4, 5, b6, b7. Basically, you could picture this as the regular Phrygian scale with a raised third. It sounds great played over major and dominant chords—it has a Spanish flavor. You can experiment by playing power chords off of each note for a more rock approach.

Let's check out some basic fingerings and lines from this scale...


Ex.1 This is just a basic 3-note-per-string pattern for the Phrygian Dominant scale in the key of F#. The notes are F#, G, A#, B, C#, D, E. The key is to play this scale everywhere on the neck in all keys and make up your own patterns—don't stick to one shape.
Ex.1a Here is a cool pattern I came up with that brings out the exotic flavor of this scale. Basically, it is just a six note pattern moving up in octaves. The six note pattern really begins on the 5th string and moves up the neck, I just started the pattern off the F# on the 6th string, feel free to experiment. You might want to follow the suggested fingerings.

 Ex.2 This example is based off the pattern in example 1a. This example demonstrates how you could apply this to your playing instead of just running up and down the scale.

 Ex.3 Here is a cool string skipping line, also in the key of F#. You will notice it is constructed from the same pattern I showed you in example 1. The line moves up the neck, skipping one string at a time; it can be tricky, but sounds cool fast.

 Ex.4 Finally, we have a line using arpeggios from the F# Phrygian Dominant scale. This first arpeggio is an F# augmented arpeggio (F#, A#, D), which shares the same notes as an A# augmented and a D augmented. Because it is symmetrical, the same three notes are repeating in major 3rd intervals. The D augmented is diatonic to the F# Phrygian Dominant, and so are the F# and G major arpeggios that occur on beats 3 and 4. I use sweep picking to play these arpeggios, but you can experiment with different styles.

That wraps up our lesson! I've given you a few basic examples to start you off; be sure to further explore the scale and use it in your playing. Remember to visit me online at!