• A Lesson On Chord Formation Using The Spanish Phrygian Scale

    in Experienced players,General Music,Improvisation,Piano,Scales,Theory

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    If you’re interested in learning how to form chords using the Spanish phrygian scale, then this lesson is for you.

    We’ll be starting out by defining and learning how to play the Spanish phrygian scale in all twelve keys, because of those who would want to learn the scale or those who may want to refresh their minds on the scale.

    But beyond defining and learning the Spanish phrygian scale, we’ll go a step further into outlining the chord classes (triad, seventh chord, and ninth chord) that can be derived from it.

    Let’s get started.

    A Quick Review On The Spanish Phrygian Scale

    The Spanish phrygian scale is the fifth mode of the harmonic minor scale.

    Starting and ending the C harmonic minor scale:

    …from its fifth tone (which is G):

    …produces the G Spanish phrygian scale:

    Formation Of The Spanish Phrygian Scale Using The Phrygian Scale

    If you’re familiar with the modes of the major scale, then you should know the phrygian mode; which is the third mode of the major scale. The G phrygian scale:

    …which is the third mode of the Eb major scale:

    …is produced by starting and ending the Eb major scale on its third tone (which is G):

    The difference between the phrygian scale and the Spanish phrygian scale (apart from the fact that the former is a mode of the major scale while the latter is a mode of the harmonic minor scale) is that the third tone of the Spanish phrygian scale is higher than the third tone of the phrygian scale by a half-step.

    Therefore, raising the third tone of any given phrygian scale, produces a corresponding Spanish phrygian scale.

    Raising the third tone of the A phrygian scale:

    …which is C:

    …by a half-step (to C#):

    …produces the A Spanish phrygian scale:

    “Check Out The Spanish Phrygian Scale In All Twelve Keys…”

    C Spanish phrygian scale:

    C# Spanish phrygian scale:

    D Spanish phrygian scale:

    Eb Spanish phrygian scale:

    E Spanish phrygian scale:

    F Spanish phrygian scale:

    F# Spanish phrygian scale:

    G Spanish phrygian scale:

    G# Spanish phrygian scale:

    A Spanish phrygian scale:

    Bb Spanish phrygian scale:

    B Spanish phrygian scale:

    Chords Of The Spanish Phrygian Scale

    The Spanish phrygian scale can be used in the formation of chords, and we’ll be looking at the harmony of the Spanish phrygian scale in the formation of a triad, seventh chord, and ninth chord.

    The Major Triad

    The relationship between the first, third, and fifth tones of the Spanish phrygian scale produces a major triad. Using the C Spanish phrygian scale (as a reference):

    …the first, third, and fifth tones are C, E, and G:

    …and when played together, that’s the C major triad.

    Due to the fact that the triad of the Spanish phrygian scale is the major triad, the Spanish phrygian scale can be used to improvise over the major triad.

    For example, the C Spanish phrygian scale:

    …can be used to improvise over the C major triad:

    The Dominant Seventh Chord

    Seventh chords are formed by the relationship between the first, third, fifth, and seventh tones of any given scale. In the case of the Spanish phrygian scale (using the C Spanish phrygian scale as a reference):

    …the first, third, fifth, and seventh tones are C, E, G, and Bb:

    …and that’s the C dominant seventh chord.

    So, the Spanish phrygian scale is also associated with the dominant seventh chord, which is one of the most important chords in harmony irrespective of whether you’re classically-oriented or not.

    The Dominant Seventh [Flat Ninth] Chord

    Going beyond the first, third, fifth, and seventh tones is the ninth chord tone. Playing the first, third, fifth, and ninth chord tones of the C Spanish phrygian scale:

    …which are C, E, G, Bb, and Db:

    …produces the C dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord.

    Recommendation: This lesson on the dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord is for you if you’d love to know more about this chord type.

    Final Words

    The major triad, dominant seventh chord, and the dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord are associated with the Spanish phrygian scale.

    Jazz and gospel musicians use the Spanish phrygian scale in lots of subtle ways and we’ll focus on these applications and more in subsequent lessons.

    Until then, keep practicing!

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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