3 Ways To Play Phrygian Mode On Guitar

3 Ways To Create Music Using The Phrygian Mode On Guitar

by Simon Candy


Phrygian Mode Guitar Article PicIn this video, you learn how to play the phrygian mode on guitar. The phrygian mode is one of the darker sounding modes.

It is often associated with metal and flamenco styles of music, but can be found in other genres of music too including rock and jazz.

In this lesson, I’ll simplify the phrygian mode for you by breaking it down in great detail, showing you several ways you can create music with it on your guitar.

First, you learn the easiest way to access the phrygian mode.

This is on a single string and helps you understand the mode before looking at other ways to play it.

Once you have this down, you then learn to play the phrygian mode in the following ways:

• The derivative method: This is when you relate the mode to its parent sale

As a pentatonic scale with added notes: A super cool way to integrate all your pentatonic riffs and licks into the mode

Triad shapes: This approach produces a very melodic sound with larger intervallic jumps between notes

You also learn the chords of the phrygian mode.

Many people miss this vital part of playing in any key, the chords!

The understanding of modes begins by harmonising the scale and discovering the chords that belong to the mode.

Watch the video below to learn more:



The Phrygian Mode

Phrygian is the third mode of the major scale.

We are looking at E Phrygian in this lesson, which is the third mode of C Major:


E Phrygian Mode Guitar C Major 






E Phrygian is a mode of C Major because it has the same notes as C Major.

The important difference is that the root is now E, not C.

You can also think of E Phrygian as an E minor scale with a flat 2: 

E Phrygian Mode Guitar b2





A great place to start with modes is on a single string.

This way you can easily play the mode and clearly see the relationship between each of the notes:


E Phrygian Mode Guitar Single String









Phrygian Mode Approach 1: The Parent Scale

The first way we can access the Phrygian mode on guitar is via the parent scale, in this case it’s the C Major scale:


E Phrygian Mode Guitar Parent Scale










When played over a Phrygian chord progression, as demonstrated in the video, this scale takes on the role of the Phrygian mode.


Phrygian Mode Approach 2: The Pentatonic Scale

Another great way to access the Phrygian mode is via the pentatonic scale.

Here we have the E minor pentatonic scale with added notes to complete E Phrygian:


E Phrygian Mode Guitar Pentatonic









Watch the video to see this approach demonstrated.


Phrygian Mode Approach 3: Triads

Another great way to access the Phrygian mode is using triads.

Both the F and G triads exist in E Phrygian and collectively have 6 of the 7 notes of the mode:


E Phrygian Mode Guitar Triads 







Therefore, you can use the F and G major triads to access the Phrygian mode.

Watch the video to see this approach demonstrated.

Learn how to solo on guitar using arpeggios