Whats up everyone? I've been playing the guitar for eight months and have studied theory from day one and, hopefully, at this point have a good understanding at a basic level of it. However, what continues to make me ask question are modes and chord progressions of them.

I just recently took a liking to Phyrigian scale and was wondering that, when making a chord progression to solo over it do I use chords that have characteristics of the Phyrigian Scale or do I relate it to the major scale like If I am playing in C Ionian doing a I-II-V II being minor chord use E Phyrigian to solo over it or would I make a I-II-V from Phyrigian and use Phyrigian in that key to solo over it.

I've read a lot about modal center studies here on U.G. so I have a good grasp but I've also read to create chords from a major scale and thats that.

Thanks Alot

Mike Pelosi
It would be easiest and probably best sounding if you just related your phrygian scale to it's 'parent' major key and resolved you progression on the iii chord of that scale. But of course you can experiment with all kinds of chords and progressions, your ears are the ultimate judge in this one ;]
I am, by no means, an expert at this; but to create music that is truely modal the chords used need to include some of the notes that make (in this case) the phyrigian scale the phyrigian scale. So in relation to the major scale that is 1 2b 3b 4 5 6b 7b. The chords and solo would need to reslove to the tonic, I believe that can be somewhat difficult as it will try to reslove to the major scale tonic.

If you play E phrygian over a Cmaj progression you are just playing in Cmaj. If you play C phrygian over a Cmaj progression you will get the feeling of a phrygian sound, but will not truely be playing a modal piece.

I'm sure there is more to this, but my knowledge currently ends here (and may not be 100% correct)!
Last edited by Myshadow46_2 at Mar 23, 2009,
Real modal music is archaic. It comes from a time so long ago that composers and theorists hadn't truly theorised chords, let alone chord progressions. True modal music was a modal cantus firmus and a few countermelodies. No improvisation (not in the way you're thinking at least) and no fancy progressions.
You could analyse some of these for chord progressions, but you wouldn't find much. Alot of these "chord progressions" just progress back and forth between the tonic chord and the chord built on the fifth degree (not quite a dominant chord because it's a minor chord in minor modes).

But what most modern musicians mean by modes is 'modal progressions', where the progression will specifically point to a specific mode. This is achieved by outlining that specific mode (usually dorian or phrygian as these modes are easy).

Each mode has a special note that only that mode has, in phrygian it's the b2. Aeolian is an exception to this. BTW you should know the formula's of the modes before using them, not just their fingerings. Alot of guys call this special note the modal note.

So all we do is find chord that contain this special note. In E Phrygian these chords are Fmaj, Gmaj and Dm. I personally wouldnt use Dm, as it doesnt really move well (in my opinion) to any of these chords except Gmaj but that doesn't really outline the phrygian mode very well. Fmaj looks like a nice choice for a second last chord as most of these notes are only a semitone or a tone away from most of the notes in Em. If we make this chord a dominant seventh chord, we even have a sort of leading tone (D#) in our progression which is great for resolving. Generally, we need a third chord. It just so happens F7 leads nicely to G7 and back again.

When I'm playing phrygian progression in E, I'd generally play them like this: Em, F7, G7, F7, Em

For phrygian progressions this is probably a bit overcomplicated. Most people just remember modal progrdessions. For dorian i-IV is usually used, for mixolydian something like a I-v would be use.

Hopefully I've answered your question
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