Over the past few years, I wrote a collection of etudes in the mode often called “Freygish”. Those curious about music theory and unfamiliar with Freygish can read the next paragraph. For those interested in listening only, set your ears to the tuning of the main theme from Laurence of Arabia and pick up after the next paragraph!

The word is a Yiddishization of the word “Phyrgian”, and the simplest formula for Freygish is to take the Phyrgian scale and raise the third note (E Freygish = E, F, G#, A, B, C, D, E). While many Western music theorists refer to Freygish as being “the fifth mode of Harmonic Minor”, I’ve found through playing the music of the Ashkenazi Jewish tradition, as well as music from the Balkans and Middle East, that this mode is best understood as a separate entity, with it’s own peculiar leading tones, modulations and nuances that are integral to the sound. While it’s certainly related to Harmonic Minor, I do not believe it can be adequately understood as a mode of Harmonic Minor.

I’ve spent much of my career operating in the Freygish mode and found that there aren’t many resources for exploring the farther reaches of this sound or developing the facility in all 12 keys (a foundation of Western musical practice). So I wrote a book of etudes, one in each key! Many of the forms, modulations, digressions, and sounds are based on my experiences in Klezmer music, but I’ve tried to bring in challenges and expression from a diverse set of influences to keep things interesting and relevant to musical practice in the 21st century. Beginning September 1st 2019, I’ll be posting a recording with video of an etude until all 12 are finished. My goal is to post complete live takes with no edits - part of this is an attempt to overcome the bugbear of “perfectionism” and try to be as genuine and in the moment as possible, warts and all!

The ultimate goal is to publish a collection of these etudes, to be accompanied by explanatory text and technical studies. In the meantime, if you’re interested in obtaining sheet music of an etude after the video has gone live, please feel free to email and I’ll send you a PDF transposed for your instrument.