Im slightly confused E-aeolian, Em9- E G B D F#, Em9/b9- E G B D F If im using E-phrygian the 9th is already flatted does it mean Em9 in phrygian is Em9/#9? Or should the calculation of 9/11/13 should be done keeping major and minor(ionian&aeolian) in mind?

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Chord symbols are absolute. The set of pitches defined by a chord symbol is not relative to any context like key or scale. If you have an Em9 chord, it means the notes E, G, B, D and F#, and to play it you don't have to look at a key signature or anything.

If you're playing an Em9 chord, then you can't be "using" E phrygian, that's a contradiction. It's more like the other way around. You play notes and chords, you listen to it, think about where your home note is and what other notes there are around the home note, and then you can describe the harmonic feeling you've created by saying that it's such and such mode. For example, if your tonic note is E and you switch between Em9 and A6 chords, what modal feeling do you create? That's E dorian.


Working with jazz chord symbols like Em9 or Emb9 is a separate system than being in a key or mode.

With jazz chord symbols I think of all signs in reference to a dominant 13th chord in major (ex. G B D F A C E G). Signs like min, #, b modify those default intervals. 9 by default is a major ninth. A flat sign b in b9 is a modification to lower the default major ninth to a minor ninth.

Being in a mode or key is different. All things are relative to a key signature (whether written or not.) In E Phrygian a ninth chord built on the tonic is an E minor seventh chord with an added minor ninth, and F natural. Notice how the F natural is not a modification of the key signature (zero sharps or flats.) Calling the interval a flat ninth doesn't make sense. Flat from what? Literally a flat is not used at all. Within this system it is probably better to call it a minor ninth, the actual interval name. As far as chord labeling in this system goes, there are different conventions. The key name needs to be given and Roman numerals are used for the chord roots. Sometimes capital M means major and lowercase m means minor. Like IM7 to mean a major seventh chord on the tonic.

I suppose Em: iM9 would be the same set of tones as Em9. Both being E G B D F#.

If im using E-phrygian the 9th is already flatted does it mean Em9 in phrygian is Em9/#9?

With the jazz symbol system the symbols are never in a mode or key, so you must convey the mode through the symbols. To indicate E G B D Fuse Emb9. To actually get a Phrygian feel you need some kind of progression. Ex. Dm7 Em7b9 I think will feel Phrygian. To understand the chord symbols start from a default dominant ninth chord (E G# B D F#) and then modify. The signs m modifies the third to make it minor - a G natural - and the flat b lowers the ninth to a minor ninth - an F natural. Confusingly, that actually is a flat sign being used to play a natural tone. It's a misnomer to call it "flat" ninth. It's really a "lowered" ninth.

If you want E G B D F#, just use Em9. Again, the m modifies the default major third to make it minor, and the 9 is a default major ninth.


What do you mean by "using phygian"? The definition of chord formulas are always in relation to the major scale (otherwise there would be no need to say a minor chord has a minor 3rd).

So Xmin9 would always be (1, b3, 5, b7, 9) regardless of the definition of X (the root).

That doesn't mean you cannot build chords off other modes. That process determines what chords naturally occur in any key.

All Modes can be played as a 13th arpeggio by playing them in 3rds rather than steps.

(1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13)

The occurrence of the b/# 9 in the Phygian mode simply means you will be out of key if you play a iii(-9) chord, e.g. E phrygian is in the key of C so an E-9 in C would be "out", it would have an augmented fourth of the key signature in it. That may still work depending on what comes next (the flow of chords in a cycle and the movement of the intervals therein are what matters).

In any Major key the naturally occurring chords are

Tonic: (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13) (Major in 3rds)

Supertonic: (1, b3, 5, b7, 9, 11, 13) (Dorian in 3rds)

Mediant: (1, b3, 5, b7, b9, 11, 13) (Phrygian in 3rds)

Subdominant: (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, #11, 13) (Lydian in 3rds)

Dominant: (1, 3, 5, b7, 9, 11, 13) (Mixolydian in 3rds)

Submediant: (1, b3, 5, b7, 9, 11, b13) (Minor in 3rds)

Leading tone: (1, b3, b5, b7, b9, 11, b13) (Locrian in 3rds)


By E phrygian you will mean iii 79.

Well, like vii7-5 in C (or iim7b5 in Am) the b7 and b9 are assigned or have to be assigned regarding to the key they are standing,

V79 in Am will have b9 (E, minor 7 and minor 9) and iii9 in C (Em, minor 7 and minor 9).

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