The Sounds Of The Locrian Mode, Learn the Chords, Scale, Triads and Arpeggios Built From Locrian
The Professor
Mar 11 2013, 06:10 PM
Theory Instructor
Posts: 888
Joined: 8-January 13
From: Manchester UK
In this series of articles we will be taking a look at the different sounds that you can build from any mode in the Major Scale, in particular the chords, scale, triad and arpeggio that go with each mode in the major scale.

So far we have covered the Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, and Aeolian Modes, which you can see linked below, and we are now ready to dig into the 7th mode of the major scale, the Locrian Mode.

If you need a refresher on the first 6 modes of the major scale, you can find them here:

Sounds of the Ionian Mode

Sounds of the Dorian Mode

Sounds of the Phrygian Mode

Sounds of the Lydian Mode

Sounds of the Mixolydian Mode

Sounds of the Aeolian Mode

In this lesson, we’ll be looking at the chords, scale, triads and arpeggios that are build from the Locrian Mode, giving you a full understanding of how this scale works and the different sounds that can be derived from this commonly used major-scale mode.

Here is a quick look at each device from the Locrian mode, with further details provided below to read further.

Attached Image

Now that you’ve seen these different sounds on paper, let’s take a deeper look at each one of them, starting with the two different chords that you can build using the Locrian Mode.

Locrian Chords

The first items we’ll take a look at are the 3 and 4-note chords that you can build from the Locrian Mode.

When building a 3-note chord from Locrian, you end up with a diminished triad, 1-b3-b5, which are the first, third and fifth notes of the Locrian scale, more on this below.

As well, you can add the 7th onto those notes to build a m7b5 chord, 1-b3-b5-b7, or the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes of the Locrian Mode.

This knowledge will not only help you build these chords from the Locrian Mode, but it will help you apply the mode to your solos whenever you see these chords in a chord progression.

Further Reading

How to Play Diminished Chords on Guitar


Write out the note for each diminished triad and m7b5-chord in all 12 keys.

Post your answers below and I will correct them and give you feedback if you are having any trouble writing out the notes of these triads and chords.

Locrian Scale

The Locrian scale can be built in two ways, the first being as the 7th mode of the major scale.

So, if you took a major scale, such as C for example, and started from the 7th note, B in this case, you would get the B Locrian Mode.

Here’s how that works:

C D E F G A B C = C Major

B C D E F G A B = B Locrian

So, both scales share the same notes, but by starting on the 7th note of the major scale, all of the intervals change between Locrian and Major, leading us to the second way to work out the Locrian Scale.

The second method of sussing out the Locrian Mode from any note is to use it’s characteristic interval pattern.

This pattern is as so:

1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7 1

So, if you took a C Major Scale:


And add the b’s from the Locrian interval order, you would get C Locrian:

C Db Eb F Bb Ab Bb C

This means you have two ways to build a Locrian Mode, and both work just as well. So, try them both out and see which one works for you and go forward with that as you continue to develop your theory and playing chops with this fun and cool-sounding mode.

Further Reading

Locrian Mode Harmonized With Triads


Write out the notes of the Locrian Mode, in all 12 keys.

Post your answers below and I will check them out and post feedback, as well as answer any questions you may have on this scale construction.

Locrian Triad and Arpeggio

The triad and arpeggio for the Locrian mode share the same notes as the 3 and 4-note chords we saw earlier. Though, in this case they are picked as individual notes rather than strummed or plucked as a full chord.

Being able to recognize the diminished triad and m7b5 arpeggio as a single-note device will not only expand your soloing vocabulary, but will allow you to bring the sound of the Locrian Mode to your playing outside the context of a chord, or the mode itself.

Further Reading

How to Build Diminished Triads


Write out the triad and arpeggio notes for the Locrian mode, a diminished triad and m7b5-chord arpeggio, in all 12 keys.

Post your answers below and I will check your work and help with any issues or questions you may have on this subject.

Learning the structures behind each mode that you are learning on the guitar can help shore up your theory knowledge, as well as make it easier for you to apply these modes to your solos and song writing as you learn to relate them to chords, triads and arpeggios.

If you have any questions or comments, post them below.

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This post has been edited by The Professor: Mar 15 2013, 12:28 AM

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