Cre­ative Rock

If you’re look­ing for some fresh rock tonal­i­ties, then you’re in luck, for Shaun Bax­ter has a use­ful and in­ter­est­ing scale to show you.

Guitar Techniques - - Contents -

Shaun Bax­ter has an­other amaz­ingly cre­ative les­son lined up for you... can you han­dle it?

So far in this cur­rent se­ries we’ve looked at tri­adic arpeg­gios, pedal tones and tar­get­ing. This month we move on to a scale that oc­curs in many eth­nic mu­sic forms and is par­tic­u­larly prom­i­nent in neo-clas­si­cal rock gui­tar.

Phry­gian Dom­i­nant is mode five of the har­monic mi­nor scale; so, for ex­am­ple, E Phry­gian Dom­i­nant is the fifth mode of A har­monic mi­nor. This means that it has the same notes, but should be treated as an E scale, with the notes of an E triad (E, G# and B) act­ing as the set­tled ‘home’ notes, rather than Am (A, C and E). A Har­monic mi­nor: AB CD E F G# 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7 E Phry­gian Dom­i­nant: E F G# A B CD 1 b2 3 4 5 b6 b7 Phry­gian Dom­i­nant is also known as Phry­gian ma­jor and is so-called be­cause it is like Phry­gian, but with a ma­jor 3rd in­stead of a mi­nor 3rd. Like any mode of Har­monic mi­nor, there is a char­ac­ter­is­tic mi­nor 3rd leap (in this case, be­tween b2 and 3) that gives it a cer­tain East­ern qual­ity, and is a scale that crops up in a host of dif­fer­ent Euro­pean and Asian cul­tures (Span­ish, Turk­ish, Greek, In­dian, Jewish etc). It also has three semi­tone in­ter­vals per oc­tave (one a semi­tone above each of the notes of the parental triad), plus just one other note. It con­tains two ma­jor tri­ads a semi­tone apart (in this case E and F); plus a di­min­ished 7th ar­peg­gio (in this case G#dim7, which con­tains the notes G#, B, D and F).

As you see, it is pos­si­ble to view E Phry­gian Dom­i­nant in sev­eral ways: 1) E Phry­gian with a ma­jor 3rd (G#) in­stead of a mi­nor 3rd (G); a parental E triad with a semi­tone in­ter­val above each of its three notes (there­fore an F triad), and a fi­nal D note (b7) that re­sides a tone be­low the root note; or a parental E triad with an F triad a semi­tone higher; plus a b7 (D).

Di­a­gram 1 shows the Phry­gian dom­i­nant scale viewed from the lat­ter per­spec­tive. You will see that the notes of the F triad will sound tense, sus­pended or un­re­solved, whereas the notes of the E triad sound set­tled, and there­fore re­solved.

A char­ac­ter­is­tic mi­nor 3rd leap be­tween the b2 and 3 gives Phry­gian Dom­i­nant a cer­tain East­ern qual­ity, and it crops up in a host of dif­fer­ent Euro­pean and Asian cul­tures.

Three-Oc­tave Pat­terns

On gui­tar, it is com­mon to com­press the notes of any scale onto the bot­tom string pair (sixth and fifth), and shift the same re­sul­tant scale pat­tern up in oc­taves un­changed: first to the mid­dle string pair (fourth and third) and then the top string pair (sec­ond and first).

For E Phry­gian Dom­i­nant, one could start with D, E and F on the sixth string, and G#, A, B and C on the fifth, giv­ing us all seven notes of the scale com­pressed into one string pair (try shift­ing it up in oc­taves on the mid­dle and top string pairs as de­scribed, to pro­duce a 3-4-3-4-3-4 scale con­fig­u­ra­tion). Yngwie uses this ap­proach a lot, as well as an in­ver­sion of the same thing that can be es­tab­lished if one plays G#, A, B and C on the sixth string, and D, E and F on the fifth (again, try mov­ing this up in oc­taves on the mid­dle and top string pairs in the pre­scribed man­ner to get a 4-3-4-3-4-3 con­fig­u­ra­tion).

Shaun Bax­ter & Uli Jon Roth

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