What’s going on everyone!? Welcome to another installment of Axe of Creation here at the wonderful Gear Snobs and the second part of our Shades of Minor lesson. This month we will be exploring two more shades of Minor; Aeolian and Phrygian. We’ll be focusing more on the shapes, patterns, and fragments so if you haven’t looked at Part 1, please do.  Having a good foundation of these shapes will allow us, you, to explore the many shades of not only Minor but Major and/or Dominant sounds as well.

 Our Next Two Shades

Last month we looked at Melodic Minor and Dorian, which leaves us Aeolian and Phrygian.  These two modes are very common in the world of rock and metal, as they are a little darker in nature, as they are getting “smaller” in interval relationship.



Key Characteristics

Now all modes have certain notes that are characteristic to them, what gives them their color or flavor or sound. I think you can really hear this as you play through the different minor modes. To me, Dorian isn’t really “sad” as much as more of a melancholy sound. When you switch over to Aeolian (the Minor Scale), you’ll really feel the impact and sadness of that b6 note. It has a real teenage heartbreak type of sadness. None of the other minor modes really capture that emotion, IMO. Phrygian is often a favorite of metal players as that b2 (b9) is really agitating.  The b9 is a very distinguishing tone and an easy way to make something sound terrible or tasteful and exotic. Tread carefully!



That wraps up our exploration into Shades of Minor. Remember, all of the minor modes we’ve played with can be played over a simple minor chord. Which also means that you can “borrow” chords from parallel minor modes as well! Just like the colors of a painter, each mode has its own distinctive color and context. Have fun exploring and layering new sounds! I’ll see you next month and as always let me know what you come up with


Gregory Arthur is Axe of Creation, a Gear Snob, and a Father of Two. He challenges you to become uncomfortable with yourself in attempts to gain a new perspective. Never give your energy away to what you’re not. Focus on what resonates within you and bring forth in creation. 

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