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Metallic Atmospheres – Phrygian Colourations

This lesson focuses on an arpeggiated chord progression based on the E Phrygian scale. The most common scale tones from which to build a progression from the Phrygian scale are the 1, b2 and b3. Since we are using the E Phrygian scale, this translates into the notes E, F and G.

From these notes we can build power chords and then make them more colourful by way of some additions. For the E power chord, we can add the 5th and root in the next octave, as well as the open high E string to create a stacked open E power chord. The sound of this, you will notice, is much bigger and more powerful than its standard 3 string cousin.

The most difficult part of this riff arrives midway through bar 2, and involves replacing the E note at fret 5 on the B string with an F note a semitone higher right next door on the same string. For those struggling to stretch, this may take time to get to grips with, so be patient. Warm up before you attempt it and practice regularly, but not for too long. In this way, your fingers will adapt over time, allowing for greater flexibility and the ability to fret the chord properly.

This then leaves us with the most straightforward chords in the riff. Both involve simply adding the open G string to them. In the case of the F power chord, this creates an Fsus2 chord. A suspended 2nd chord involves omitting the chord's 3rd for the 2nd degree; in this case, G. Note that power chords do not have a 3rd to begin with, but if we were to take the 2nd degree and replace it with the 3rd (A) we would have ourselves an F chord.

The addition of the open string to the G power chord creates an interesting unison effect, due the same G note being fretted above it, on the D string. This really beefs up the chord, allowing for more sustain and power.


Practice Tips

  • Sharp pains are never a good thing when practicing. Be mindful when performing stretches and take it slowly. If you experience pain, stop immediately. Check your posture and the way you hold the guitar. I like to have my guitar neck close to a right angle. If a shape is too hard, try moving it up the fretboard where there is less width between frets. Find a comfortable zone, then gradually work your way back down the neck.