Phrygian Dominant Licks: Capturing the Essence of Minor Bebop

The harmonic minor scale was the first scale I learned to apply in a minor jazz setting over an altered dominant chord. No doubt that was because it was the easiest, but it also seemed to me to be the most consistent with the vocabulary of bebop a la Charlie Parker. Just as a given major scale generates the appropriate Mixolydian mode for the dominant of its key, so a harmonic minor scale produces a scale that works well with its dominant. Known as the Phrygian dominant (aka Jewish scale, Gypsy scale, or Spanish scale), this scale works beautifully with V7b9 chords. With its lowered sixth, and with the minor third interval between its lowered second and major third, it possesses an evocative, Eastern quality that makes me think of belly dancers and snake charmers. The scale you're likeliest to learn as the first choice for V7b9 chords is the half/whole diminished. It's certainly a time-saver, as you need learn only three of this symmetrical scale in order to know all twelve. But the Phrygian dominant has an exotic beauty to it that the diminished scale doesn't quite capture, and a built-in ease of use rooted in its relationship to the parent minor key. In a previous post, I offered a couple of written exercises on major triad couplets. Now, in the spirit of Bird, here are three licks utilizing the A Phrygian dominant scale. The first and third one resolve to the tonic chord of D minor; the second is just a straight A7b9 lick, but you can still resolve it to the D minor--it just waits longer to define that chord. As always, memorize each exercise in all twelve keys. And have fun! [ADDENDUM: I just noticed that, in the third exercise, I didn't include a Bb in the key signature. Please mentally insert it so you're playing in the key of D minor and the ninth of the A7 chord is flatted.]
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