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Super Locrian Improv: Jazz-Rock Fusion Applications for this Mode of the Melodic Minor Scale

Super Locrian Improv: Jazz-Rock Fusion Applications for this Mode of the Melodic Minor Scale
A useful mode of the melodic minor is known as Super Locrian. This is the seventh mode of melodic minor. If we have a C melodic minor scale, for instance, the seventh mode would be B Super Locrian.

Its scale formula is 1–b2–b3–3–#4–#5–b7. You may also see this called the altered scale or the half-diminished/ half-whole tone scale. This is the scale of choice when playing over a functioning (i.e., it resolves up a 4th) altered dominant chord—specifically one with an altered 5th and 9th, such as a 7b9#5 or a 7#9b5. Here’s a common two-octave fingering pattern for C Super Locrian:

Download example 3 audio...

This example is a funk-fusion groove in F with a I–V –I progression: F9–C7#9#5–F9. Over the F9, we’re using the F composite blues scale (F major pentatonic and F blues combined), and over the C7 altered chord, we’re playing C Super Locrian. Download example 4 audio...

The next is the same thing, only we’re using a i–V–i progression: Fm9–C7#9#5–Fm9. We’re playing F Dorian over the tonic Fm9 chord, and again using C Super Locrian over C7#9#5. Download example 5 audio...

Things aren’t always so neat and tidy in actual practice. This means that, for instance, sometimes players will use the Super Locrian scale, even over an unaltered dominant chord. In this case, you’re simply superimposing an altered sound, similar to using Phrygian dominant over a minor chord. At moderate to fast tempos, this is usually not a problem. If you’re playing a slow, pretty ballad, however, the clashing notes would be more conspicuous. Therefore, on slower tempo songs, it may be helpful to discuss with your band members how the dominant chords will be treated.

This lesson comes from:

Guitarist’s Guide to Scales Over Chords
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