The Locrian mode | Guitar Lesson, Theory, Diagrams and Scale Charts
What's the Locrian Scale?
The Locrian mode is the seventh mode of the major scale. It has a particular sound because of the b2, b3, b5, b6 and b7. It is the least used, and probably the most misunderstood of all of the modes of the major scale.
The four guitar shapes show how you can play the Locrian scale starting on the sixth, fifth, fourth or third string.
For a better understanding of this mode, it is recommended to play these patterns starting with the root note (R). The root is a very important note which gives its name to a scale.
Locrian Mode and Diminished triad Chord - Audio file
Locrian Mode Two Octave Shapes
Now you have tackled the one octave shapes, you can practice the following two octave shapes.
To practice the Locrian mode in different keys, you just have to move the root (R) to the desired tonality keeping the same intervals.
Locrian Mode | 3 Notes Per String | 7 Shapes
Reflecting the sequence H-W-W-H-W-W-W we get the Locrian scale in all the 12 keys. Each scale consists of a root (1), minor second (b2) or flat ninth (b9), minor third (b3), fourth (4) / eleventh (11), diminished fifth (b5), minor sixth (b6) / flat thirteenth (b13) and minor seventh (b7).
|A Locrian Mode||A,Bb,C,D,Eb,F,G|
|Bb Locrian Mode||Bb, Cb, Db, Eb, Fb, Gb, Ab|
|B Locrian Mode||B,C,D,E,F,G,A|
|C Locrian Mode||C,Db,Eb,F,Gb,Ab,Bb|
|Db Locrian Mode||Db, Ebb, Fb, Gb, Abb, Bbb, Cb,|
|D Locrian Mode||D,Eb,F,G,Ab,Bb,C|
|Eb Locrian Mode||Eb, Fb, Gb, Abb Bbb, Cb, Db|
|E Locrian Mode||E,F,G,A,Bb,C,D|
|F Locrian Mode||E#,F#,G#,A#,B,C#,D#|
|F# Locrian Mode||F#,G,A,B,C,D,E|
|G Locrian Mode||G,Ab,Bb,C,Db,Eb,F|
|G# Locrian Mode||G#,A,B,C#,D,E,F#|
It can be interesting to compare the Locrian scale with four others Locrian modes.
- The first is the second mode of the harmonic minor scale, its name is Locrian natural 6 mode. It is built with a natural 6 in place of a minor 6. It is spelled 1 - b2 - b3 - 4 - b5 - 6 - b7
|Formula||1||b2 (b9)||b3||4 (11)||b5||6 (13)||b7|
- The second Locrian mode is called super Locrian bb7 aka Ultra Locrian mode. This is the seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale and it is spelled 1 - b2 - b3 - b4 - b5 - b6 - bb7. You can see that it is built the same as the Locrian mode but has a diminished seventh (bb7) instead a minor seventh (b7).
- The third is the Locrian #2 mode, it is the sixth mode of the melodic minor scale. As its name implies it has a major second (#2) instead of a minor second (b2). The formula is 1 - 2 - b3 - 4 - b5 - b6 - b7.
|Formula||1||2 (#2 or #9)||b3||4 (11)||b5||b6 (b13)||b7|
- The last one belongs to the Bebop scales family. The Locrian bebop scale is an octatonic scale (built with eight notes). It is spelled 1 - b2 - b3 - 4 - b5 - 5 - b6 - b7. The Locrian bebop scale has an extra note between the flat five (b5) and the minor sixth (b6). This is the Locrian mode with a supplementary note, the fifth (5).
Related Arpeggio and Chords
The Locrian mode produces a diminished triad and a half-diminished arpeggio. Diminished triads consist of root (1) and minor third (b3) and a diminished fifth (b5).
Add the minor seventh (b7) and you get a half-diminished chord (tetrad). Half-diminished arpeggios are made up of a root, minor third, diminished fifth and minor seventh (b7).
|B Locrian mode||B||C||D||E||F||G||A||Chord|
|Formula||1||b2 (b9)||b3||4 (11)||b5||b6 (b13)||b7|
|B diminished triad||1||x||b3||x||b5||x||x||Bmb5|
|B half-diminished 7 tetrad||1||x||b3||x||b5||x||b7||Bm7b5|
|B half-diminished arpeggio||1||x||b3||x||b5||x||b7|
The Locrian mode is basically used over half-diminished chords (m7b5) however, these chors are rarely employed. So, you have to know that a half-diminished arpeggios can be used to highlight the ninth (9) of a dominant 7th chord.
For example, you can play a E half-diminished arpeggio (E-G-Bb-D) over a C dominant seventh chord (C7) starting from its third.
|E half diminished arpeggio||E||G||Bb||D|
|C dominant 7th chord||C||E||G||Bb|
- E of E half diminished arpeggio is the third of C7
- G is the fifth
- Bb is the minor seventh
- D is the ninth.
Another common jazz trick is to apply a half diminished arpeggio to a minor seventh chord starting on the third of this chord. This technique allows to highlight the thirteenth of a minor chord.
For example, let's take a D minor seventh (Dm7) chord built with D, F, A and C respectively root (1), minor third (b3), perfect fifth (5) and minor seventh (b7). The sixth of D is B which can also be named thirteenth (13). So now you just have to play a B half diminished arpeggio, which is B, D, F and A.
|B half diminished arpeggio||B||D||F||A|
|D minor seventh chord||D||F||A||C|
- B is the thirteenth of Dm
- D is the root
- F is the third
- A is the fifth
Here is a basic major II-V-I sequence in the key of C to understand the use of the half diminished arpeggio over a minor seventh chord. In this context, we will not play the whole B Locrian scale over the Dm7 chord, but only a B half diminished arpeggio.
As you can see the four notes in orange in bar 1 represent this arpeggio. In this example, it is inverted, it starts with the third (D) which is the root of D minor seventh.
How to Use the Locrian Mode in a Minor II V I Progression?
We can see in this minor II-V-I chord progression the basic application of the Locrian mode over a Dm7b5 chord.
- Bar one : D descending Locrian mode (D-Eb-F-G-Ab-Bb-C) with a passing tone (A).
- Bar two : B diminished 7th arpeggio (B-D-F-Ab) and chromatic line (F-F#-G). In this line the B diminished arpeggio starts on the third of G7b9.
- Bar three : Fifth and b3 of Cm.?
Printable eBooks - PDF
This printable PDF method includes over 700 guitar scale diagrams and formula charts.
This PDF eBook provides over 550 guitar chord shapes. This is the perfect reference guide to understand how chords are built and how to play them on guitar.
This printable PDF is a method dedicated to guitarists of all styles who want to learn the most important types of arpeggios.
This handbook for guitar players is intended both for teachers and students. It includes 126 guitar shapes for mastering triads.
This package provides a printable PDF method containing 30 exercises (tab / audio files) for practicing minor arpeggios on guitar.
This bundle contains 4 PDF methods for a total of 170 exercises with tabs & audio files for practicing scales, licks & chords over the famous 2-5-1 progression.
This package contains 120 jazz guitar lines based on diatonic modes as Mixolydian, Dorian and Ionian. PDF format with tabs, audio files and analysis.
In this package you'll get a printable PDF Method with tabs, notation, analysis, scale shapes and audio files related to 30 smooth jazz guitar licks.
This pdf method for guitar contains fourteen 2 5 1 jazz guitar lines with tab, standard notation, analysis, scale charts and audio files.
This guitar method is a printable PDF eBook containing 50 exercises with audio files, analysis, tab & standard notation.
This PDF method contains 40 exercices with tabs, scores and audio files for practicing jazz guitar chords over the minor 2 5 1 progression.
This guitar method is a printable PDF with tabs, diagrams, theory and audio files providing 40 minor 2 5 1 jazz patterns.
PDF guitar method with tabs, audio files and theory providing 40 dominant jazz guitar lines for teachers and students.
This printable guitar method in PDF format contains 40 easy minor jazz guitar lines based on the Dorian mode.
Printable PDF eBook method containing 40 major jazz guitar licks with tab, standard notation and audio files for beginners and intermediates.
This jazz guitar method about walking bass lines and chords is available as a PDF files containing 35 exercises with tabs, analysis and audio files
This printable PDF method provides 101 dominant arpeggio exercises with tab, theory and standard notation for the jazz, blues and rock guitarist.
This printable eBook method in PDF format provides 49 jazz solo transcriptions of the greatest jazz musicians. Tab, standard notation, audio files & analysis.
This PDF method contains 11 guitar lessons with chord studies, tabs, standard notation, analysis & audio files about the main blues progressions used in jazz music.
This PDF eBook method contains 25 altered jazz guitar licks with tabs, patterns, scale charts and audio files to master, apply and develop the altered scale.
This printable method is available as a PDF file containing 40 easy dominant jazz-blues guitar lines with tabs, standard notation, analysis, audio files and scale charts.
This jazz guitar method is an eBook available as a PDF with standard notation, guitar tabs, diagrams, analysis, audio files and backing tracks. You will find in this booklet 25 easy jazz guitar lines with theory using common and rare pentatonic scales.
You will find here an eBook available in PDF containing 25 soul jazz and hard bop guitar licks in the style of Grant Green, Melvin Sparks, George Benson. These jazz lines come with tabs, standard notation, guitar neck diagrams, backing track for practice and 25 audio files for each riff.
This eBook PDF with audio files contains 25 dominant diminished jazz guitar patterns using the half-whole diminished scale and diminished 7th arpeggios.
This Printable PDF eBook available for free download contains 6 easy jazz guitar licks with tabs/notation, youtube video link and analysis about the tritone substitution.
This giant guitar poster for any guitar player, student or instructor contains colorful arpeggio diagrams.
This guitar poster contains eighteen neck diagrams representing the most used scales in music.
This giant printed color poster contains 63 guitar chord diagrams for jazz players, students, teachers and schools.
Guitar reference poster about Greek modes for guitar teachers, students and music schools.
This reference poster show the positions and intervals of the main triads used on guitar. This is a useful tool for guitarists, teacher and students.
Last edited: 2022-01-27