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Modes of the Major Scale

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In this lesson we'll learn the phrygian mode. We started with the A Major scale and number the scale degrees:

A(1) - B(2) - C#(3) - D(4) - E(5) - F#(6) - G#(7) - A(1)

We are going to use the exact same group of notes, but this time we are going to let the third note of the scale (C#) a chance to start the scale. Note the formula of intervals shifts from the original one (WS is whole step or two frets; HS is half step or one fret):

A Major scale: A - WS - B - WS - C# - HS - D - WS - E - WS - F# - WS - G# - HS - A

1st - WS - 2nd - WS - Major 3rd - HS - 4th - WS - 5th - WS - Major 6th - WS - Major 7th - HS - 1st

Letting the 3rd scale note (C#) start the scale results in the third mode, named, phrygian. Watch for the shift in the formula of intervals in between it's degrees.


C# - HS - D - WS - E - WS - F# - WS - G# - HS - A - WS - B - WS - C#

This means we have a different set of intervals and thus a different sound.

1st - HS - Flat 2nd - WS - Minor 3rd - WS - 4th - WS - 5th - HS - Minor 6th - WS - Minor 7th - WS - 1st

First we'll play phrygian in one octave, then we'll play it using a 3-note per string pattern that will cover all six strings. In the next lesson we'll experiment with playing the mode over a backing track that uses chords to help highlight the sound of phrygian.

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Modes of the Major Scale