Music theory made easy

Lately in Wikiloops, I stumbled upon a song made by a guitar player, then someone played harp over it, and a guitar, this time soloing, again. And the musician who played the harp complimented the soloist on using the phrygian mode which got my head spinning a bit…

Well phrygian is simply said the 3rd if you start thinking from ionian – so if you take all the white keys on a keyboard, with C major being the ionian mode, you start the same keys (only those white ones, remember?) on the 3rd note which is e, and you’ll have phrygian. So C major played from e to e’ (the octave above) would be E phrygian. Easy, no?

Well yes and no – how to improvise over this? On a guitar, think minor pentatonic plus two notes, the minor second and the minor 6th, and you’re there. Here’s a nice tutorial about that from David Wallimann:

How To Use The Phrygian Mode – Playing With Modes #6

I like this example – he’s using G phrygian – because he also shows how this is simply G# lydian if you start playing that same scale from the second note which is G# or Ab. You could also think Eb ionian (or simply said, Eb major) if you’re more familiar with that. Ron Clemens commented: “I like the sound of that relative Lydian arpeggio (AbM7) in the (G) Phrygian context – sounds Zappa-ish.” – and I have to agree, that was a nice one 🙂

That’s a cool lesson I think, it opens up all the possibilities you’ll have when starting to think that way – and it sounds great, like all of these modes do.

So thanks to David for a nice and understandable and enjoyable tutorial, and thanks to you for reading and viewing, as always.

2 Replies to “Music theory made easy”

  1. OMG :O very interesting indeed! However, unfortunately, it is like trying to explain advanced string theory to an Neandertal – when it comes to music theory all I can say is uugh ooohg ooohg 😉 . I listen a lot to Zappa, and maybe sometimes that comes out in a phrase or two, but honestly, pure luck!

    1. I just noticed that my little blog here doesn’t have a “like” button on comments, but you would get one for sure my friend 🙂 Thanks for commenting 🙂

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