Going Modal

Song 2 on Garage Noise began as a challenge I set myself to write a pop song using the Locrian mode.

Being the most dissonant of the diatonic modes there aren’t many examples of composers utilising Locrian in western popular music, a rare example being Bjork’s Army of Me. One thing which became apparent whilst embarking on this task was that, unfortunately, I am definitely not Bjork.

So why am I bleeting on about this bloody mode I hear you ask?

The Geeky Bit

Most western popular music utilises the diatonic major scale (AKA the Ionian mode) in which the natural ‘home’ chord is the familiar old warm old satisfying old major triad which is statistically and categorically bloody lovely.

The second most commonnest craic for tunes I reckon is the minor scale (Aeolian mode), which is nowt really but the major scale if you play the same notes but move you clammy paw up, or down, to the 6th degree of the scale and use that as your home chord (this may or may not prompt you to implement the harmonic minor scale to exploit that tasty little leading note and have yourself an extra dominant chord for a laugh). – if you’re reading this thinking, “ooo, why hasn’t he mentioned the melodic minor scale” it’s probably because you’re a prick.

Beyond major and minor, there’s the blues, which is basically the major scale but every chord’s a dominant 7 in order to imply movement where there is none, which technically means we’re using 3 Mixolydian modes, and occasionally someone dressed like a sailor will insist that their composition is in Dorian when really they’ve just played a minor 3rd over the blues.

Cliche or not, Phrygian is almost always cool as fuck.

Lydian is the happy opposite of Locrian, a bit too bright to be throwing around willy nilly when you can just as easily use the major scale most the time.

Using the Locrian mode meant that my ‘home chord’ would be A-half-diminished which, even if you don’t follow music theory, sounds rank.

This meant that despite my best efforts to keep things light and upbeat, within minutes I had composed my most bleak and hopeless piece of music to date.

Garage Noise Song 2. The Soul Dies Young.

The soul dies young

Where you fall won’t matter at all

Your grieving heart won’t love, and you won’t learn.

The soul dies young

Every shining light will fade

Your withered hands won’t touch, and you won’t hold.

You will think of me when you burn

My eyes will be shining

And I’ll lick my lips as you learn

No-one’s coming for you.

The soul dies young

All your dreams disintegrate

Your final hope will wander as you slow.

You will think of me when you burn

My eyes will be shining

And I’ll lick my lips as you learn

No-one’s coming for you.

Published by grooveboxadam


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