The Scale With the Most Names

The Scale With the Most Names

The scale with the most names is the Phrygian Dominant scale

It’s scale number 1232 in the scale book I published.

The Phrygian Dominant scale is one of my all-time favorite scales and scale sounds. It is the 5th mode of the harmonic minor scale. What this means is that, when you start a harmonic minor scale from the 5th note, you are playing a Phrygian Dominant scale.

The Phrygian Dominant can also be thought of as a Mixolydian scale with b2 (b9) and b6 (b13). This is abbreviated to Mixolydian b9b13
Since Mixolydian is the scale of choice to improvise over V7 chords, you use Mixolydian b9b13 over a V7b9b13 chord.

The b2 in the scale gives the scale its distinct Middle Eastern and Central Eastern/Central Asian flavor.

The Phrygian Dominant scale is heavily used from Jewish music, to Flamenco, to Arabic to Eastern European folk and Gypsy music (Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria…), to Kazakh folk music, India and Egypt to even Neo-Classical shred metal (Yngwie Malmsteen, Vinnie Moore, Jason Becker, Marty Friedman, and so on). Common in Arabic, Egyptian, Klezmer, Indian, Middle Eastern, Eastern European, Central Asian, and Flamenco music. Also used in Hebrew prayers.

Its worldwide heavy usage explains why the scale has so many names. Here are the names were given to this scale:

Phrygian Dominant, Phrygian Major, Altered Phrygian, Mixolydian b9 b13, Dominant b2 b6, Spanish Romani, Mela Vakulabharanam (14/72, Agni Chakra), Raga Jogiya, Ahiri, Vativasantabhairavi, Zilof, Ahava Rabba, Freygish, Fraigish, Jewish 2, Maqam Hijaz-Nahawand, Hitzaz, Hijaz (Arabic), Humayun (Azerbaijan), Dorico Flamenco, Harmonic Major inverse, Altered Hungarian, Dastgāh-e Homāyoun (Iran).

It’s definitely a really fun scale to know about.

You can learn all fingerings of the Phrygian Dominant (also called Mixo b9b13) scale in the key of G right here: (The 2nd guitar neck from the top of the page shows the starting fingering of the G Phrygian Dominant scale)

Here’s a backing track in the key of G you can use to practice this really cool-sounding scale.

You can use this scale over dominant 7 chords.
This is above all, the scale of choice to solo over V7/III and V7/VI secondary dominants.

If you need to brush up on what secondary dominants are, you can do so here:

Fun With Secondary Dominants

Have fun!


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