The Locrian Mode

Locrian Mode

This is the last mode of any major scale and is also considered as the most difficult mode. It has not been used by many guitarists because of the unstable tonal characteristics and hard to handle sound. It also requires a lot of thought to create the chord progressions for backing tracks. The problem many guitarists face while using this mode is that they do not find it easy to create the exact Locrian sound. It is also the darkest mode out of all the modes of major scale. The following interval structure represents Locrian;

R b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7 8

From the above interval structure you may have noticed that Locrian has the maximum number of flat notes in it. These flat notes are the main reason behind its dark tonality. Too many flat notes also make it difficult to use in natural minor/major chords. Locrian is the real ear-twisting mode out of all the modes that we have covered here. It is also the most unresolved mode which is always a challenge to its users. The following image shows B Locrian on 7th fret;

 Locrian Mode

Locrian holds the sinister characteristics in its sound which is the reason why most players use some major modes after using this mode for a while. Using major mode after Locrian makes a balanced track otherwise it become indigestible and very horrifying to the listener. The main types of music Locrian is used in are Jazz and Fusion. The horrifying characters do not mean it cannot be used at all; the trick is to use this mode in conjunction with other modes so that its sound is supplemented with other modes and doesn’t become disturbing to the ears of listener.

Relevant Chords of Locrian

As mentioned above Locrian has always been a challenge for guitarists because it requires using diminished chords which are technical and difficult to be used. Locrian is best suited with diminished, minor 7th and flat 5th chords. You can start your progression with diminished chords and then start adding minor 7th chords and flat 5th chords to it so that you can taste the difference in sound being created by these chords.

Famous Compositions in Locrian

Since Locrian is not a widely used mode, it is difficult to find many examples for this mode but the following are some famous tunes you can use as a reference to Locrian mode;

  • Metallica – Enter Sandman (intro)
  • Led Zeppelin – Four Sticks
  • John McLaughlin – Marbles

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Ahmed is a regular contributor to GuitarChords 247 and brings you in-depth guitar lessons and music theory.
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