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Scales and Modes With Joshua Barnhart: Locrian


Scales and Modes With Joshua Barnhart: Locrian

Meet Joshua Barnhart –

Welcome back to the last chord scale of the Church Modes, Locrian. Locrian is in its self, ambivalent. Once you get the starting note in you head you’ll almost always want to resolve it up to the next note that would be the Tonic in this case. Locrian is a very unused scale; even for the chord it should be responsible for the min7b5 (half diminished) chord, most use the Locrian natural 9 scale from the 6th degree of Melodic minor.

Locrian’s signature note is the b5. No other scale in the church modes boasts a tritone as a chord tone in the triad. Not much music is written in Locrian. A lot of that can be attributed to that face that nothing really resolves to Locrian. It has the most unstable interval in music, the tritone, built into its sound. Another reason maybe that the tritone interval was considered the ‘devil’s interval’ for hundreds of years, and composer such as Bach and Beethoven were well know for their commissioned works they did for the church. But ultimately as you will see Locrian is a hard sound to resolve to, you ear just wants you to keep moving. In most classical situations the 7diminished chord was used as a substitute for the V chord. So to resolve to the V7 would sound unsettling to most people even without a trained ear.

So for the exercise this time we’re going to just play through Locrian really straight forward. The catch is you have to start and end on the extremes of the scale. Lets stick with out theme and pick B Locrian, no sharps no flats. We’re going to play the lowest note in the scale and end on the highest note in the scale. For you 4 string guys we’re going to start on E, which is the 11th, and anyone sporting a 5 string or my personal preference 6 you’re going to start on B. The key to this is to find a path up and find a different one back down. The idea is the find the easiest way to shift all the way up your neck and back down as smoothly as possible. Start on your low E or B and work your way up to your highest note most likely E, G, or C.

Try and keep your brain from switching modes, a lot of times when doing this you’ll get lost because you switching patterns. Its ok to have different fingerings, but don’t lose the fact that you’re in Locrian.

Now that we’re done with the church modes we’ll move on to some of the most used scales in Melodic and Harmonic Minor.

Take your time get it right… remember perfect practice makes perfect.

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