This article is about using the kickassiest of major modes, Phrygian mode, in metal rhythm.
We'll go by explaining the modes basics and then riffing some examples. I won't explain all the atmosphere that mode can create, since all we need here are groovy, juicy riffs, and that doesn't require too much philosophy.
Phrygian mode basics
Phrygian mode is 3rd mode of major scale, meaning if you play a major scale from it's 3rd interval, you get phrygian scale. Here's how to get E phrygian scale:
So, basically, it's C major scale starting from E note. It is very important that you accentuate on flat 2nd interval (F note in this case) when you play in this mode, since it's signature atmosphere mainly comes from that. You may also want to point out that it's third (G note in this case) is minor, and not major (which would be a G# note, then), because it is easy to confuse phrygian mode to phrygian dominant mode (5th mode of harmonic minor scale). They differ in only one interval, and that is the third. Here is one simple example you can play to hear how Phrygian mode sounds like (I recomend you play on clean sound):
Which positions are most practical to use?
I find positions starting from open low E string and it's octave on 5th string (7th fret) most practical to use in metal riffs, though, you can always experiment with any other position. Also, you can use a position starting from E note on 12th fret of 6th string, which works really great with open low E string. Here are those positions (yellow circle marks E note 1st interval):
Here are some examples on 'red position':
Example 1 (audio example 1):
Example 2 (audio example 2):
Example 3 (audio example 3):
Here are some examples on 'green position':
Example 1 (audio example 4):
Example 2 (audio example 5):
Example 3 (audio example 6):
Here are some examples on 'yellow position':
Example 1 (audio example 7):
Example 2 (audio example 8):
Example 3 (audio example 9)
I could play with those positions whole day and wouldn't get bored. There are countless options here. You can, of course, try jamming in different time signatures, maybe add some legatos, slides or taps. Improvise! Who knows where that improvisation might guide you if you allow it to lead you.
You can also combine those positions:
Example 1 (audio example 10):
Example 2 (audio example 11):
And feel free to implement any other note of that mode in your riffs!
Example 1 (audio example 12):
Example 2 (audio example 13):
That's it for now folks! There are some drumtracks on my website you can maybe jam these riffs over, and feel free to contact me if there's any questions! Thanks and enjoy!
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