Saturday, October 18, 2008

Phrygian over ii-Vs

Q: I'm learning jazz from a book by Mark Levine called The Jazz Piano Book and where I can't understand the book, I use your website and it has been really useful so far. But now I'm kinda stuck at a point about Phrygian chords. Mark Levine says that you can combine an E-7 and A7, a II-V in the key of D, into an A Phrygian chord (For example in Victor Young's "Stella By Starlight"). I can't get my mind to it why you can combine those two chords into an A Phygian chord. On your site I can't find an answer, so maybe you can help me.

A: I would have to assume that it is not a Emin7 but Emin7b5, and that would also be the right progression for "Stella." It makes pretty good sense:

You see, A phrygian = F major, and F major = E locrian. So that scale is a good match for Emin7b5 right? And the A phrygian is a pretty good match for the A7, especially as the A7 chord, like in stella, is a A7b9 chord. A phrygian = A-Bb-C-D-E-F-G = 1-b9-#9-4-5-b6-b7. I don't think these are the best scale choices for the progression but it will work. Better would be G melodic minor for the Emin7b5 chord (E locrian#2), and Bb MM for the A7 chord (A altered). The A phrygian mode would work better for a A7b9sus4 chord.

The Phrygian Mode >>>