The Phrygian Mode for Guitar Part 3

Arpeggios and Pentatonic Scales

Continuing from Part 2, of our look at the Phrygian Mode, We will now study the super-imposition of 4 Note Arpeggios and 5 Note Pentatonic Scales to generate new approaches to solo over our Phrygian Mode sound.

Before you begin, here’s a Phrygian mode backing track by Quist to play with.

4-Note Arpeggios

Adding another interval of a 3rd on top of a triad creates a 4 note arpeggio. By building arpeggios on each degree of the Phrygian mode and soloing only using these arpeggios, we can be selective about which intervals of the scale we play. The arpeggios and intervals formed from the root of the Phrygian mode are shown in this table:

Scale Degree 4 Note Arpeggios in Phrygian Intervals Against Tonic
1 i minor 7 1, b3, 5, b7
b2 bII major 7 b9, 11, b13, 1
b3 biii 7 b3, 5, b7, b9
4 iv minor 7 11, b13, 1, b3
5 v minor 7b5 5, b7, b9, 11
b6 bVI major 7 b13, 1, b3, 5
b7 bvii minor 7 b7, b9, 11, b13

Some will sound better than others to your ears, so put on the Phrygian backing track and experiment by jamming with one of the following arpeggios each time. Here they are shown in two octaves:

My first choices are to play:

Dominant 7 Arpeggio on the b3 (C7 over A) (b3 5 b7 b9).

Minor 7 Arpeggio on the b7 (G minor 7 over A) (b7 b9 11 b13).

5-Note Pentatonic Scales in the Phrygian Mode

The three minor pentatonic scales we can derive from the Phrygian mode exist on the root, the b7 and the 11(4).

The following examples show how the pentatonic scales ‘fit’ inside the Phrygian shape:

Example 13p – Minor pentatonic on the root.

Intervals played against the root of Phrygian: 1, b3, 11, 5, b7.

Example 13q – Minor pentatonic on the b7.

Intervals played against the root: b3, 11, 5, b7, b9.

Example 13r Minor pentatonic on the 11.

Intervals played against the root: 1, b3, 11, b13, b7.

I often use minor pentatonic scales played from the b7 and 11.

First Choice Soloing Summary for the Phrygian Mode

Parent Scale: Phrygian.

Intervals: 3rds and 6ths.

Triads: Minor on the b7 / Major on the b2.

Arpeggio: Major 7th on the b3 / Major 7th on the b7.

Pentatonic: Minor pentatonic on the b7 and 11.