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In the guitar lesson we are going to be learning a bit about how the Locrian mode is made as well as a common scale shape for this mode. You should be familiar with how the major scale is made before going through this lesson. If you aren’t quite sure how the major scale works you can go check out the lesson Understanding the major scale. We have supplied you with a scale diagram for the Locrian shape that we will be using in this lesson.
In order to get a good understanding of how the Locrian mode is made lets start with an A major scale and alter some notes in it to make it into an A Locrian scale. The A major scale is spelled 1A 2B 3C# 4D 5E 6F# 7G#. In order to make any major scale into a Locrian scale you need to lower the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, and 7th scale degrees one half step each. Lower these notes in the A major scale and you would end up with an A Locrian scale, spelled 1A 2Bb 3C 4D 5Eb 6F 7G.
There is another way to think about coming up with the notes in a Locrian scale. Take any major scale and go to the 7th scale degree. Let’s use a Bb major scale and start with the 7th scale degree, which is an A note. The Locrian mode is based off of the 7th scale degree of any major scale. With that in mind if you start a Bb major scale on the 7th scale degree, the A note, you would be playing an A Locrian scale. Either way you think about it the notes are still the same. The important part is to get the sound of this sale in your head and star experimenting with it for yourself.
Record an A minor flat 5 chord and play each note of the Locrian scale over it. Try to remember what each note sounds like over the chord. It will probably be a good idea to go ahead and learn your minor flat 5 arpeggios at this point to go along with your new Locrian scale shape. You will probably hear this scale used in jazz or fusion styles of music more than any other styles. The Locrian mode is very unique because it is the only mode whose 5th scale degree is lowered. This gives it kind of a lurking and ethereal sound that is not found in the other modes.