G Phrygian Chords (G7sus b9, G13sus b9)

G Phrygian Chords (G7sus b9, G13sus b9)

If you like crunchy sounding chords with a strong tendency to resolve to the tonic, then you should learn the suspended Phrygian chords 7sus ♭9 and 13sus ♭9. The 7sus ♭9 chord is built from the Phrygian mode of the major scale and the 2nd mode of the Melodic minor scale. The 13sus ♭9 chord can only be built from the melodic minor scale. I cover both chords in detail and have 6 open guitar chord shapes for G7sus ♭9 and G13sus ♭9.

 

What is a Phrygian Chord

A Phrygian chord is defined as a dominant 7th suspended chord that also has a flat 9 in the chord. There are really only two possibilities – 7sus ♭9 and 13sus ♭9.  It is the ♭9 that distinguished the Phrygian mode of the major scale from the Aeolian mode.

Phrygian mode degrees: 1-♭2-♭3-4-5-♭6-♭7
Aeolian mode degrees: 1-2-♭3-4-5-♭6-♭7

Although both modes differ by only one note, the minor 2nd versus the major 2nd, that one note is a huge difference. The Phrygian mode is closer to the Locrian mode than the Aeolian mode, in my opinion.

And when it comes to Phrygian chords, you do not add the ♭9 to the minor triad or minor 7th chord. For example, a Gm7♭9 chord is just an inversion of a B♭13 chord. I’ve never seen anyone use a Gm add ♭9 chord but I suppose you could use that one

What you do instead is add the ♭9 to the 7sus chord. There are only 2 modes where you can build the 7sus ♭9 chord: 3rd mode of the major scale and the 2nd mode of the melodic minor scale.

You can use the Phrygian mode to improvise over a Phrygian chord, but you can use the chords wherever you want. For example, instead of using the E7sus ♭9 chord in the key of C major, you could substitute it as the V7 chord in A major. See the next section for the resolution tendencies of these chords.

 

G7sus b9 & G13sus b9 chords in detail

The 7sus ♭9 chord is built on the iii of the major scale and the ii of the melodic minor scale. As an example in G, For G that would be E♭ major and F melodic minor.

I notate the chord as 7sus ♭9 but you may also see 7sus♭9, 7sus(♭9), G Phryg, Gdom7 sus(♭9), or some variation of that.

G7sus ♭9 chord tones: G-C-D-F-A♭
G7sus ♭9 intervals: R-P4-P5-m7-m2 = 1-4-5-♭7-♭9
Equivalent chords: G7sus ♭9 = Fm6 add9= Dm11♭5

G13sus ♭9 chord tones: G-C-D-F-E-A♭
G13sus ♭9 intervals: R-P4-P5-m7-M6-m2 = 1-4-5-♭7-13-♭9

The tendency for both chords is strongest to E♭ major, but also to A major. Also try going to A♭, C, D & E major. The resolution for those keys works even though it is not due to the tritone in the chord.

 

Open G7sus Phrygian chords

I only have 3 chord shapes for each chord and a couple of them are hard to hold. Here is a chart explaining the symbols on my chord diagrams:

Explanation of the symbols used on my chord blocks

 

The Phrygian chord G7sus b9 1st position
G7sus b9 3rd position
G7sus b9 guitar chord 8th position

 

The Phrygian chord G13sus b9 3rd position
G13sus b9 guitar chord 8th position
G13sus b9 guitar chord 8th position variation

 

 

Final Thoughts

Not much to say here other than give the chords a try and see if you like them. Check out my G7sus Guitar Chords article for open chord shapes for G7sus, G9sus, and G13sus.

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