Phrygian Dominant Lessons 1-5



This first lesson will get us familiar with a scale pattern that most of the initial ideas will be based on. Although, a number of the lessons will stretch below and above this "pattern". As with any scale on the guitar the scale can be expanded across the fretboard. So, explore the notes (of the scale and the ideas) elsewhere on the fretboard (like in octaves and playing the complete scale up and down the fretboard on one string, etc…). We'll get into these other area's/patterns as we progress.

We'll stay with this pattern for awhile to burn it into your head and get the fingers used to the scale since the fingering's are a little more awkward than most Pentatonic and Modal type scales. But, the unfamiliar fingering can be a bonus when trying to improve.

Ok, here's the scale for today:

D_______4_5_7_8_______________________...this is first part of the MP3, played slow and faster.

Also, play the scale up and down to work on the fingering...

D________4_5_7_8________________________________________8_7_5_4_________...second part of the MP3, played slow and faster.

This scale consists of the R b2 M3 P4 P5 b6 b7 R. In the case of D, again the notes are D Eb F# G A Bb C D.

The fingering may feel a little awkward like I said, especially noting: the four notes on 4th and 2nd strings, and the jump/shift that takes place from the 3rd string to the second string. But, they are very doable. So, get them down for the next installment as we'll be breaking the scale/pattern down bit by bit.

I will refrain from giving any fingerings out, unless someone requests them, since I feel that everyone should play things based on how THEY play them. But, if it's needed to compare fingerings or you just need help with it, please let me know via email.

The next two lessons will include some ideas built on the first octave of this scale. Work on burning this scale pattern in your brain before moving on.

Record yourself playing an Open D chord and start working the scale against the chord to get the sound of it in your head.


Attached URL: Lesson 1



Lesson 2:

Refer back to the Introduction for tuning, and Lesson 1 for scale examples.

At this point we know just the scale pattern from the last lesson.

For the next few lessons we are going to break the scale into octaves, and explore each octave individually. Then we'll start tying them together to create licks/riffs/phrases/lines.

Lessons 2 and 3 are two examples built around the first octave of the scale.

The first example starts by using a note below the scale root (on the 5th string) and a note above the next octave root (on the G string).

Both of these also make excellent picking exercises.

Lesson 2


Attached URL: Lesson #2



Lesson 3:

The second example utilizes the same notes below and above the same roots.

Think of the phrasing as two groups of 8. The first group starts on the 5th fret of the G string and ends on the 5th fret of the D string. The second group starts on the 4th fret of the D string and ends on the 3rd fret of the A string. And then resolving back to the root (D) on the A string. Then finish it off with the low D string.

Lesson 3


Attached URL: Lesson #3



Lesson 4:

Lessons 4 is built between the first and second octave of the scale. For most people this is one of the easiest places to play this scale when using the pattern I showed in the first lesson.

What makes it easy is, for the most part you can use two fingers, such as you do with the Minor Pentatonic scale, and it lies across each strings as opposed to up and down the fretboard.

I should also note: that to help yourself along with these lessons, record yourself playing a staic D chord. Don't play any rhythm structure to them, just hit it once, let it ring, and before it dies out, hit it again...and repeat for how ever long you want. Then take the exercises and play them against this recording, then used the lines in different rhythms to create the whole feel. This will help you realize how naked sounding the ideas are when played without the chord. And, eventually you will want to be able to play the single notes together with the open strings to simulate that chord playing behind the single notes (we’ll cover that technique in the next lesson).

Lesson #4:


Attached URL: Lesson #4



Lesson 5:

Finally, lesson 5 will start to include a little of the "strumming" idea/technique. To use this technique, you strum the guitar as you would with chords, but you will only be fretting single notes, and muting unwanted strings from sounding.

For the next idea, I’ve recorded the idea four times on the MP3. One slowly playing the notes tabbed out, then once faster. The third time is the lick slow, but with accompanying open strings. Then, the fourth time is faster with the open strings.

I will try and explain the open string thing in this lick for the people who may not understand this technique...

The main idea is that any string lower than the fretted note you are playing will be played as an open string. The only exception in this lick is the G string which we do not want to play open.

Any string higher than the one you are fretting should be muted by the left hand (for “righties” that is).

One exceptions to these rules (I use that term lightly) is, when you're fretting on the B string, you want to also mute the open G string along with the high E string, but play the open D A and D strings open so they sound against the fretted note. And you also want to mute the High E string with the left hand.

When I played the last two takes I was strumming the guitar just as I would with playing a folk type chordal song. So, instead of taking the economy picking route, you instead pick/strum all of the strings at once. Very broad strums.

Use very broad strums at first to get the feel of it. As you play faster, naturally the strokes will become less broad and exaggerated.

Here's a little breakdown of how I played this one...

When I am playing the 7th and 8th fret on the D string (4th string) I am fretting the two notes with my left hand, and I am also leaving the Low D and the A string ringing. But at the same time, I am muting the G, B, and E strings, so they don't sound, with my left hand.

Then when I move to the two notes on the G string, I am leaving the Low D, A, and D string ringing, but I am muting the B and E string with my left hand.

Then for the notes on the B string, I am leaving the Low D, A, and D strings ringing, BUT, muting the E string with my left hand AND the G string with the finger I am fretting the note with on the B string.

If you slop through the lick strumming all the strings you'll get the idea since the sloppiness will mute strings for you and let the other strings ring.

And again I’ll stress the word ‘Sloppy’. As you listen to the MP3 you’ll hear that I’m not going to for a precise picking technique but the single notes need to be clear AND the open string need to ring through out.

I hope all that makes sense.

Lesson #5:


Attached URL: Lesson #5