I’d first like to thank you all for making this blog such a success. In the course of 2 months these lessons have been in over 70 countries, reached 3,000 people and have had 10,000 documented downloads. I say documented, because I can’t get stats from my Dropbox. So, THANK YOU again, and I hope these lessons have helped your understanding of music, if not your actual playing. Before you go on, if you haven’t already liked us on Facebook or followed us on Twitter, please do so. Throughout the week, more material, such as corresponding chord tones just may be dropped. On to the fun stuff!!!

The Phrygian mode sounds really cool. There’s no getting around it, but if you’ve ever played a simple major scale then you’ve played the Phrygian Mode. The Phrygian Mode begins on the third note of the Major Scale. In past lessons I have switched back and forth between saying Major Scale and Ionian Mode, because they are the same thing. Ionian is the first mode in the Major Scale, Dorian is the second, and Phrygian is the third.


Before we go any further I must direct you over to the Dropbox Folder Phrygian containing the flash cards and audio tracks for this lesson. There is an audio track for getting an ear for the scale and to play along to, as well a track containing a groove to play along to.

We have been traversing the C Major Scale in order to learn the modes thus far. The C Major Scale contains no flats or sharps, which makes it ideal. Always remember that in any key you can play these modes. If we were in G major (Ionian) we would play A Dorian and B Phrygian. In any key we can count down two whole steps (4 frets) and find ourselves in the Phrygian mode, playing from that note to its octave keeping in the notes of the major scale it is derived from. In the above figure you can see the first three modes in the major scale beginning on C. You will also notice the overlapping colors of the dots. This shows that the modes are all connected. Depending on the degree you begin on it will dictate the mode.


It is important for us as bass players to be versatile in our knowledge as well as ability. So, I have made cards showing the different positions in which you can play E Phrygian. Anywhere you find an E, it will be the one of the Mode. It is up to you and what the song calls for, as to whether or not you play a more horizontal mode, ascending or descending. For the sake of clarity and conformity with other lessons I have labeled them First, Third and Fourth Finger Positions. Depending upon your hand size you may play the Third Finger Position beginning on your Middle Finger instead, or the Fourth Finger Position beginning on your Third Finger instead. It is up to you what you do, but remember to keep your form as you play. Be sure to get the other flashcards from the Dropbox folder showing the other hand positions.

After all is said and done, you may know the scales, modes and patterns but if you don’t know how to apply them then the knowledge is useless. We call this application or wisdom, applied knowledge. Let’s briefly discuss some of the things we already know. We can play C Major, A Minor, D Dorian and the Fourth Position of the Pentatonic scale over a Phrygian groove. All of these scales and modes correspond to one another. You already have 5 great tools in your belt to take to any track! The below figure depicts the fourth position in the G Minor Pentatonic, or D Phrygian. Move this shape down to E as the 1.

Minor Pent. 4

So, I have supplied a track labelled E Phrygian Scale which will give you the Phrygian tonality, from E-E, using only the notes from the C Major Scale.

If have also supplied a track labelled E Phrygian Groove. This one is a little more tricky, because I have added Phrygian chords (sus2sus4; sus2 min(7)b9…etc), but the corresponding chord tones are supplied.

The E Phrygian Groove progresses in this way.

Drums 4 bars

2x Eminb9(EFG) – Emin7 (EDG) – Gsus2sus4 (GAC)- Fmaj7 (FAE)

4x Cmaj (CEG) – Eminb9 (EFG) – Gsus2 (GAD) – Emin (EGB) – Amin (ACE) (4x)

Drums 8 bars

Try to play at least two of the chord tones supplied per chord. You may have to listen through once or twice in order to get the pattern down. On the Eminb9 in the second part it may be only possible to play one of the chord tones, but as you progress you may want to play lead in notes (half-step above or below the chord tone). You’ll learn to slide into the chord tones and you’ll be making beautiful bass lines in no time.

If there is something you’d like explained more, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comment section below or on the link that got you here. I invite and anticipate your questions. My intention is not to be a bass instructor, but rather a bass help. Soon I am looking forward to being able to have videos up for you guys and gals, but I don’t want to do that until it can be quality material. Thanks and I look forward to Scaling Your Bass next week when we discuss the Lydian Mode.

Check out  this YouTube video (which does not belong to me) in A Phrygian. (F Major)



Dorian: A Modular Difference

Are you new to modes? Don’t fear! I was one of those poor souls not very long ago. I had no idea how guys were getting these amazing sounds over these crazy, yet beautiful, chords. Thankfully, I happened upon a scary word, MODE, and a great online teacher to explain them. There are many to choose from on any given song, although some may sound much better with the chord arrangement. Ionian is the most popular mode because it is essentially the Major scale (CDEFGAB), but today we will be discussing the Dorian Mode. I am more of a visual learner so flash cards help me to visualize where the modal shapes are in relation to other modes and scales. Take this for example.


Get right over to my Dropbox folder labeled Dorian (click link) and download the flashcards and tracks.

If we consider the D Dorian Modal Scale in relationship to the C Ionian Mode (C Major)  it begins on the 2 (2nd note) of the C Ionian Mode and it ends one note past the Ionian’s 2nd octave (C). You can think of it as D-D (DEFGABCD). Also, if you are familiar with the Minor scale when looking at your fret board, the D Dorian scale begins on the 4 of the A Minor scale. If you are looking at your fret board, find the A (5th fret) on the E string and go directly over 1 string to the 5th fret on the A string and you will find D Dorian’s beginning position. So, it is possible to play the D Dorian mode over an A minor because D Dorian is contained in the notes of A Minor.

If you’ve been following this blog then you have seen the Minor Pentatonic lesson. If we were in A minor we could go into the 3rd position and play D Dorian or the 3rd position pentatonic scale. The below figure can be transposed to the 3rd position (D) of the A minor scale as it is picturing the 3rd position (C) of the G minor scale.

Minor Pent. 3

Many jazz songs beginning on the II are considered Dorian. The best definition I could find of Mode or Modular is the definition for Modular in the mathematical sense:

Mathematics. (of a lattice) having the property that for any two elements with one less than the other, the union of the smaller element with the intersection of the larger element and any third element of the lattice is equal to the intersection of the larger element with the union of the smaller element and the third element.

That may sound confusing but just remember the modes all intersect. The Dorian Mode can be played in different positions, depending on which finger you start on. It is important to learn the different positions so that you have a great command on the language of your fret board. Here are a few examples, but be sure to download the rest from the Dropbox folder.

DorianfirstfingerA Doriansecondfinger DorianfirstfingerB

Now let’s get to practicing the Dorian Mode. Remember that D is not the only place you can begin a Dorian groove. If the tune is in G Minor or Bflat the Dorian Mode would begin on C.

Download the Dorian Modal Scale track first and get used to the sound of the Dorian sound. Play along to the track provided to get the timing down as well as you have the C Major (Ionian) scale memorized in all three positions

Download the Dorian Track Loopd and play along, make up your own groove or bass line! Also, check out these Dorian tracks on YouTube. These videos and tracks do not belong to me. (A Dorian) (G Dorian)

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