Phrygian Dominant Mode for…Improvising – Dominant Chords

The Phrygian dominant mode comes from the 5th note of the harmonic minor scale. It contains a flatted 7th and 9th and a sharp 5. The flatted 7th make it good for dominant chords.

This mode can be used for 7th, 9th, 11th or 13th chords. It can also be used over dominant chords having a sharp 5 or flat 9 chords.

This mode is good for a progression where the dominant 7th chord gets augmented because it has a 5th and a raised 5th in it.

This move from a regular dominant chord to a raised 5th dominant in music is quite common and this scale can be used for both.

Dominant Chord Sources

Dominant chords are built from the 5th note of any major scale.

They can come from the 5th note of the Harmonic minor scale too.

Another source is the Melodic minor scale where they can be built from the 4th and 5th notes.

Here are some E7 chords.

Here are some E augmented Dominant 7th chords

Here is an E Phrygian Dominant mode played over an E7 chord.

The E Phrygian dominant played against an E 7th chord

I tried to emphasize the sharp 5(C) and flat 9(F) in this scale because this is what gives it this unique sound.

This mode is worth knowing especially if you are going to play any Blues or Jazz-Blues music.

I used an unaltered chord because this will be most common but it will work on any dominant chord with a raised 5th or flatted 9th.

The Phrygian Dominant Mode Formula

This mode can be made by raising the 3rd of the Phrygian mode.

Here is the formula from the major scale.


Another way to think of this mode is a Mixolydian mode with a flat 2(9) and a flat 6(13).

Still yet another way of thinking is the Harmonic minor scale is a 4th above the root of the chord.

In other words if you are playing over an E7 use the A harmonic scale but use the E note as its home note or root.

I’m giving you different ways of thinking about these because it might be easier to remember using one of the other ways of thinking about them or make up your own system for remembering.

I hope you found this page useful.