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

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

  • Its main tonal degrees are the tonic and the dominant;
  • The adjunct tonal ones are the tritone and the subtonic;
  • Its main modal degrees are the mediant and the submediant, both major;
  • The adjunct modal is the major supertonic.

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.

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:

  • Tonic and dominant are the main tonic degrees;
  • Subdominant and subtonic are the adjunct tonic;
  • Mediant and submediant, both major, are the main modal;
  • The major supertonic is the adjunct modal;
  • And the leading degree adds gravity.

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

Its functions:

  • Tonic and dominant are the main tonic degrees;
  • Subdominant and subtonic are the adjunct tonic;
  • Major mediant and minor submediant are the main modal;
  • The minor supertonic is the adjunct modal;
  • And the leading degree adds gravity.

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.

This is a tricky scale: despite its diminished 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:

  • Tonic and dominant are the main tonic degrees;
  • The tritone and the subtonic do the adjunct tonic function;
  • Major mediant and major submediant are the main modal;
  • Minor supertonic and minor mediant act as adjunct modal.

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.

- Its main tonal degrees are the tonic and the dominant;
- The adjunct tonal ones are the subdominant and the subtonic;
- Its main modal degrees are the minor mediant and the major submediant;
- The adjunct modal is the major supertonic;
- And the leading degree might add more gravity.

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.

  • Its main tonal degrees are the tonic and the dominant;
  • The adjunct tonal ones are the subdominant and the subtonic;
  • Its main modal degrees are the mediant and the submediant, both minor;
  • The adjunct modal is the minor supertonic;
  • You can make it Bebop, adding the leading degree, in order to add gravity.

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.

  • The problems begin with the main tonal function: tonic and tritone;
  • The adjunct tonal degrees don’t help: the major mediant and the subtonic;
  • The main modal ones are the mediant and the submediant, both minor;
  • The adjunct modal one doesn’t help either: it’s the minor supertonic;
  • The only help you can get is making it Bebop: add the leading degree.

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

Musician, senior software engineer, autistic, and autistic parent (not necessarily in this order)