Welcome to my bass column! Hope you enjoy and learn a lot about bass playing! This time we’ll work on bass lines using one of my favorite modes the Phrygian mode. This one is the third mode of the major scale. Like the Dorian and the Aeolian mode, the Phrygian mode is minor. Also is the second minor scale created from the major scale. This mode is characteristic for his Spanish flamenco sound and very popular in metal music for his dark and exotic sound.
For this lesson, all the examples are based in A Phrygian mode (A-Bb-C-D-E-F-G-A) so it will be easier to compare and understand the concept. In FIGURE 1, compare the difference between the Phrygian mode and the Natural minor scale. If you see, the Phrygian mode is like the Natural minor scale, but with a minor 2nd (Bb) instead a major 2nd (B).
The A Phrygian Mode The A Natural Minor Scale
While in FIGURE 2, the difference between the Phrygian and the Dorian mode is a minor 2nd (Bb) and a minor 6th (F).
The A Phrygian Mode The A Dorian Mode
FIGURE 3 is a flamenco bass line. Hey! Here you can hear the Spanish sound in all his magnitude.
FIGURE 4 is a Latin bass tumbao. As you can see, it can be played in 2:3 or 3:2 son or rumba clave. A lot of the Caribbean music is based in Phrygian mode.
FIGURE 5 is a metal riff for the metal heads. Listen to metal music and you will hear how much the metal players used the Phrygian mode. They like to create an evil sound and this minor mode is their best choice.
As you can see, the minor 2nd (Bb) is the interval that creates the interesting Spanish sound. Now that we know the secret let’s work with it and create bass lines with the Phrygian mode. Remember to emphasize the minor 2nd to get that exotic sound. Don’t be scared to experiment with the Phrygian mode. Apply it to all styles and you will hear the difference. Any question or suggestions feel free to write me.