Some Scales I Love

May. 18th, 2021
A hippo in a flower field.

G Key

There are seven musical scales I keep using frequently, they fit my needs perfectly.

If you get into my songs, you’ll see them everywhere.

From brighter to darker they are:

  1. Lydian ♭7
  2. Mixolydian Bebop
  3. Mixolydian ♭9♭13
  4. Overlaid Diminished
  5. Dorian
  6. Phrygian
  7. Superlocrian Bebop

Lydian ♭7

Lydian ♭7

Also called Brazilian Northeastern scale, Lydian ♭7 is a very bright scale, mostly present in the Brazilian Northeastern Music.

Note that all the modal degrees are major. Combined to the tritone acting as augmented Ⅳ, it makes Lydian ♭7 one of the brightest scales you can find.

The subtonic contrasts powerfully with the tritone, creating two interesting passes you may explore: Ⅳ+→Ⅴ, and ⅥM→Ⅶ, and both down.

Mixolydian Bebop

Mixolydian

This is a variant from the Ionian mode – basically it‘s the Ionian with added subtonic degree.

Everything you do with the Ionian mode, you can do with this scale, plus the tonic’s dominant chord (⁷).

The trick is avoid the leading degree, always preferring the subtonic, leaving the leading only to the termination to gain gravity in the end.

Its tonal and modal functions are granted by the same Mixolydian structure:

Mixolydian ♭9♭13

Mixolydian ♭9♭13

This scale has an Arabic atmosphere, adding some darkness to the previous one, but it’s still quite bright.

Its functions:

There’s a peculiar sesquitonal interval between the minor subtonic and the major mediant that, when accurately explored, gives that Arabic atmosphere I said before.

Overlaid Diminished

Overlaid Diminished

This is a tricky scale: despite its dimished third intervals, the overlaying add major degrees, making this scale brighter.

Another feature is the lack of gravity, which you can’t simply fix adding a leading degree – the Bebop approach just doesn’t work well here.

So one needs more expertise to master the Overlaid Diminished scale.

The functions are:

Dorian

Dorian

Dorian mode is the scales’ brightness median, not too bright, not too dark, straight in the middle.

It’s got the minor mediant, but the major submediant. The adjunct modal degree, supertonic, is major too. You can add gravity making it Bebop.

Phrygian

Phrygian

The Phrygian mode is The Dark Mode by definition, it still respects the tonal requirements, but every modal degree is minor.

I recommend this video if you want to see how hard is making Phrygian sound not-dark.

Superlocrian Bebop

Superlocrian

This scale is so gravity-lacking, that it only works if made Bebop.

Superlocrian is an exotic scale, an extrapolation from the Locrian mode (which is an artificial mode yet). Basically you got a scale, but raise the tonic a half tone.

It’s dark; it’s tough; it’s ungrounded.

However you can play with the two mediants and the minor supertonic, it allows some ethereal gigs.

Epilogue

Putting them all in a board:

Scale Ⅱm ⅡM Ⅲm ⅢM Tt Ⅵm ⅥM Ⅶ+
Lydian ♭7 T m M t T M t T
Mixolydian T m M t T M t T
Mixolydian ♭9♭13 T m M t T M t T
Overlaid Diminished T m m M t T M t T
Dorian T m M t T M t T
Phrygian T m M t T M t T
Superlocrian T m M t T M t T

Also in Medium.