Phrygian dominant scale

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D Phrygian dominant scale. About this sound Play 

In music, the Phrygian dominant scale is the fifth mode of the harmonic minor scale, the fifth being the dominant.[1] Also called the altered Phrygian scale, harmonic minor perfect fifth below, dominant flat 2 flat 6 (in jazz), the Freygish scale (also spelled Fraigish[2]), or simply the fifth mode of the harmonic minor scale, it is constructed by raising the third scale degree of the Phrygian mode.

Traditional use[edit]

It occurs commonly in Middle Eastern, some Eastern European, and Flamenco music. Examples include some versions of "Hava Nagila"[1] and "Misirlou", with other versions of those melodies using the closely related double harmonic scale.[2] "The main chords used with this scale are," I, iv, and vii.[2]

The scale is very common in Middle Eastern music, particularly Arabic and Egyptian music. It is also known as Ahava Rabbah or Freygish when used in Hebrew prayers and Klezmer music (earning it the additional title of the "Jewish scale"), as the Hijaz-Nahawand or Bayati maqam when used in Turkish or Arabic music,[3] or as Bidād in Dastgāh-e Homāyoun in Persian music. In North Indian classical music, this scale corresponds to the raga Basant Mukhari. In South Indian classical music, this scale is known as Vakulabharanam.[4]

It is often known as a "Spanish Phrygian scale", "Spanish gypsy scale" (see: gypsy scale) or "Phrygian major scale" (see: phrygian mode and major scale) as it is also commonly used in Flamenco music.[5] The flatted second together with the augmented step between the second and third degrees of the scale create its distinctive mystical, exotic sound.


The sequence of steps comprising the Phrygian dominant scale is

When related to the scale degrees of the major scale, it reads like so:

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 1

Beginning on C, the scale is as follows: C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C

C Phrygian dominant scale, the fifth mode of F harmonic minor About this sound Play .

When the Freygish scale is used in Klezmer music, the 6th degree may not be flattened if it is melodically approached and left from above.[6]

Use in jazz and rock[edit]

The Phrygian dominant scale is commonly used in jazz.[citation needed] It is implemented in composition and improvisation primarily over altered dominant chords. Most commonly, it is used on dominant seven 9 chords and dominant seven 9 13 chords. This is due to the fact that the scale contains the 9, major 3, 13 and 7 tones. Over those chords, the Phrygian dominant scale is preferable to the commonly used Mixolydian scale and Altered scale due to matching chord tones.[citation needed]

Charles Mingus featured it extensively in his compositions, including "Tijuana Table Dance (aka Ysabel's Table Dance,)" "Don't Let It Happen Here," and "The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady."[citation needed]

In rock music, the Phrygian dominant scale has been extensively used by guitarists such as Joe Satriani in his instrumental rock compositions such as "Hordes of Locusts" and "Memories", and by Steve Vai in "The Riddle" and his "Fire Garden Suite".

Use in classical music[edit]

Franz Liszt moves down this scale twice in the closing bars of his B-minor Sonata.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Dave Hunter (2005). Play Acoustic, San Francisco: Backbeat, p.226. ISBN 978-0-87930-853-7.
  2. ^ a b c Dick Weissman, Dan Fox (2009). A Guide to Non-Jazz Improvisation, guitar edition, Pacific, MO: Mel Bay, p.130. ISBN 978-0-7866-0751-8.
  3. ^ Peter Manuel (2006). Michael Tenzer, ed. Analytical Studies in World Music. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 96. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Scott Jarrett, Holly Day (2008). Music Composition for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. p. 61. ISBN 0-470-22421-5. 
  6. ^ Ilana Cravitz (January 2004) Klezmer - Modes and Scales", (Accessed 13 June 2012).

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]