Harmonic minor modes – Phrygian Dominant

The fifth mode of the Harmonic Minor scale is Phrygian Dominant. A pretty evocative sounding mode that reminds you strongly of Spanish gypsy music. Use of the term “dominant” should be a clue here to some of the intervals: it has a major 3rd and flattened 7th.

This mode is also known as Phrygian major or altered Phrygian. Also Spanish Gitan or Spanish Gipsy scale.

Note that the Berklee method unifies the natural minor (Aeolian) and harmonic minor scales to produce an 8 note composite minor scale (effectively becoming Aeolian with a leading note). The fifth mode of the composite minor scale is known as  as the Mixolydian b9 #9 b13.1 Looking at Phrygian Dominant, it could be said to be Mixolydian b9 b13.

Scale formula

The formula for the Phrygian Dorian scale is:

R - b2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - b6 - b7

You can see this scale is similar to the major scale Phrygian mode, the only difference being the major 3rd.




This scale is often at home in metal riffs. \m/


  1. Mulholland and Hojnacki (2013), The Berklee Book of Jazz Harmony, p94-p95.


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