The major and minor scales that we are most familiar with aren’t actually the first scales to pop up in music. In fact, they are some of the newest scales—or, at least, the newest scales to be classified and given groups.
Some of the older scales aren’t actually all that different from one of the most common scales in music, the C Major scale. In fact, they are all built off of this scale. These old scales are called modes, and the modes coincide with the seven scale degrees of the C Major scale, from C to B.
In this article, we will talk about the last of the modes, the seventh scale degree, or leading tone, mode; the Locrian guitar mode.
Well, as we said above, it is the seventh scale degree mode of the C Major scale, which tells us that the Locrian mode has a lot to do with the note B, which is the seventh scale degree of the C Major scale.
Just like the C Major scale, the Locrian mode does not contain any sharps, flats, or accidentals of any kind. This means that once you memorize the notes, the Locrian mode is a lot easier to remember than other scales such as F Major, which contain accidental notes which you have to keep track of.
Just like all of the modes, the Locrian mode has a completely unique set of intervals that make up its structure.
Half step, Whole step, Whole step, Half step, Whole step, Whole step, Whole step
Using this formula, and starting with note B, let’s create the Locrian mode. First, we need to move a half step from B, which brings us to C (B, C). Then, from there we need to move a whole step, which brings us to D (C, C#, D).
Next, another whole step from D brings us to E (D, D#, E). A half step brings us from E to F (E, F). A whole step gets us from note F to note G (F, F#, G). A further whole step brings us from our G to an A (G, G#, A). Finally, the last whole step interval takes us from note A, all the way back to note B (A, A#, B).
The Locrian mode is the ideal scale to use when improvising over a C Major progression that focuses on the seventh scale degree of the scale, B. So for instance, if you are playing a progression that goes C, E, G, B, G, E, C, which is an outline of the C Major tonic seventh chord, you can use the Locrian mode to improvise over the seventh.
In the end, the best way to familiarize yourself with the Locrian guitar mode is by practicing. Take some time from each practice session and dedicate it to working with the Locrian mode. Have fun, and good luck with your playing!
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