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Discovered something weird today... [Theory Content]

Ryan H

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So today I was jamming in D Major, using some 80's style rock ballad backing track. Pentatonics, D Ionian, a little A Mixolydian thrown in for flavor. Then I went where few dare to tread...C Locrian.


I know Locrian gets a really bad rap, with one of the most common comments being "Three of the modes work well in a minor key, three work well in a major key, and one is horrible".


Now I know that the sound of a Minor 2nd and a Diminished 5th isn't for everyone...but apparently it's for me. I don't mind dissonance, in fact I like it a lot. Music within it's individual genres is too homogenous these days. All using the same time-tested scales and chords that sound "good" to the average listener. So I'd like to know: Who else here has dabbled in the Locrian mode, and what's your opinion on it? I know I'm far from the first to play around with it, I know that some "modern", "heavier" styles of music use it occasionally, and in some obscure jazz.



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It's certainly one that is not used much. In jazz there are no "wrong" notes. The trick is when to put in those "wrong" notes. For me Locrian is mostly used for dissonance effect but it really matters when you do it.


Another use depends on the chord structure. One example is to play a B Locrian over a B7b5 chord. Then you can move to E7 to Amin7 and Dmin7. Eventually you can move to a Cmaj7. It's kinda a Samba feel.

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Just tried it and my ears fell off. Not for me, at least not the way I played it. Any chance of a video?


I don't exactly have a rig for recording right now, but it really is an acquired taste. You REALLY have to be able to appreciate dissonance to appreciate Locrian. It's the Diminished 5th that seems to get everyone. Without that it's a minor 2nd, perfect 4th, minor 6th and minor 7th.


Also, don't use it by itself. Like many of the modes, it's best used in conjunction with other modes. I would suggest Dorian, Aeolian or Phrygian. Works really well with Phrygian from what I've experimented with. It's a very dark mode.


Always looking for ways to make my music unique.



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