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Published:December 22nd, 2009 18:48 EST
The Seven Musical Modes

The Seven Musical Modes

By Sean Beelzebul


There are not just merely these two scales, major " and minor " which Western music has been historically written. There are actually seven modes in which Western music was initially composed with "the people and the church this music was being created for, decided to mainly use major " and minor " scales. Bach wrote a few pieces in Dorian, a scale which tonally sounds in between major and minor and today, many well-trained musicians use some of the other modes. However, one mode is typically not used, a mode that was banned by the Catholic church "that is Locrian.

In musical theory, when the Locrian mode is used as a key it starts on a dissonant chord. For theorists, this chord is known as a diminished chord. A major or minor tonic " note is absent, which means when a musician performs the scale, it will leave the listener with no feeling of resolution. The dissonant chord which the key would theoretically start with would lack completion and the feeling of ending or beginning major or minor tonics, or first notes give would sound absent. Due to this, and the simple fact that the scale sounded so dark that it was said to be the sound of Satan, the chord was banned from historic Catholic choir arrangements and has been devalued by theorists sense. I believe this to be an error. In fact, I believe that the only reason it has been devalued is because music listeners are not used to this tonal arrangement.

In the twentieth century, Shostakovich wrote many pieces in Major keys but began them on the leading tones, the diminished chord in the key to give them a Locrian feel. Because, Locrian when played on the white keys of a piano begins on a B " it naturally falls right next to major, which of course starts on the adjacent C ". Thus, Shostakovich depicted darkness in music through use of Locrian tonalities. I believe the Locrian mode to have its own beauty and I use it in my music occasionally. It is of course not symbolic of Satan " as the church that banned it decided "though in my astrological system it does represent the planet Saturn, often known as a malefic planet.