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Watch the Week 8: Phrygian Dominant | Blues Solo 2 online guitar lesson by Chris Buono from Modal Mother Lode Alpha

The Phrygian Dominant Mode

The final mode here is the Phrygian dominant mode, which is the 5th mode in the harmonic minor modal system. Used in many instances, you may see this one called Spanish major or the Freygish mode depending on what musical circles run with. The 1-1/2 step instance is between the ever-important b2 and defining major 3rd. It's a dominant leaning Middle Eastern vibe and goes like this:

1 b2 3 4 5 b6 b7

The 1-1/2 step span between the b2 and 3 as well as the presence of a b6 degree makes this scale a go-to option for an outside sound over dom7, dom7b9, dom7b13 and combinations thereof within myriad styles. Here in the Mother Lode zone it gets applied in very interesting ways within all three styles settings.

The Rock Lick
For the first time you have a b2 to contend with. That creates a fingering issue throughout the rock lick, but a fun one at that. It gives this lick a completely different vibe that sounds great. Just keep in mind the bend in bar 3 is now a 1-1/2 step catapult from that b2 to the 3rd. After you navigate the new fingerings and overall architecture you'll come up against a challenging final chord fingering in the form of a C7sus4(b13) that requires a carefully arched 3rd finger triple-string barre!

The Funk Vamp
While some of the past modes like Ionian #5 and harmonic major upped the ante on figuring for the funk vamp, Phrygian dominant brings the rain big time in both sets of eight bars. The b2 really throws a wrench in the call & response idea in the first eight bars. Carefully consider my recommendations and build up the fingerings slowly. Keep an eye out also for diminished triad and tetrad inflections in the second set of eight bars that I will also point out in the Breakdown & Analysis video. The vamp will end on a must-know Phrygian dominant voicing: An 8th position, drop 3 C7b9b13.

The Blues Solo
The altered b2 once more changes things in new and exciting ways in this final Blues solo with another first. This one is a rhythmic change in the pickup notes and the following instances where those motives reappear later in the solo. The solo is of a vertical nature and applies a new approach to the V chord when it comes to melodic construction. All that said, with the phrasing in tact you still have before you a blues-approved 12-bar run that does our overall goal justice - to hear this mode in action!