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Scales from the dark side I: The galaxy’s darkest modes

In a brief survey submitted to the leaders of the Empire, the question of favourite scales and modes was asked. The deepest, most disturbing selection of intervals ever combined into scales, scales that would crush the rebel scum as soon as they heard them, was the result.

Below are the worst ten, the final being the favourite of the Emperor himself, allegedly. I encourage all patriotic troopers to learn these modes and play them as loud as your internal head mic’s will allow. If any bleeding occurs, well done.

First, in reverse order we start with Darth Plagueis and his favourite nose-viol mode, Composite II. Its formula is 1 b2 3 #4 5 b6 7, C Db E F# G Ab B. It really is a beast of a mode, a hybrid of Lydian, Harmonic Major and Neapolitan minor, it has been known to strip the hair from a Wookie at half a mile.

9) Next we have Alt natural 7, mode I of the Alt nat 7 scale.

It’s awful formula is 1 b2 b3 b4 b5 b6 7. It is very similar to one of the modes that is popular with the rebels on Earth, but has a Major 7th instead of a minor 7th. Do not play inside a trash compactor, as it echoes around the death star and scares the catering slaves.

Now the extremely obscure mode of Lydian Dominant b26#3. It’s formula is 1 b2 #3 #4 5 b6 b7 and is mode IV of the Phlegmatic minor scale (scale number 21 in the Modal Method). A perennial favourite with droids, at least that is what 8 – D8 reports, and is often heard very late at night in the deserts of Tatooine, usually accompanied by a flailing of prisoners.

7) This one is close to my residual circuits and is the go to mode for Orson Krennick, Super Lydian Augmented. A vile concoction that I often play on Sundays when I’m tormenting something. The first of its scale family, its formula is 1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 7 and is mode V of Ionian b5. This mode is the antithesis of the Altered/Superlocrian mode as instead of every note flattened, when compared to a Major scale, every note is sharpened. Reminds me of the expanse of space beyond Andromeda 5.

NB: This is unverified, but apparently it is also good at cleaning the debris from inside a stormtrooper’s armour.

6) A personal favourite of Cad Bane, the Locrian natural2bb7 mode. Its formula is 1 2 b3 4 b5 b6 bb7 and is mode VI of the Melodic b5 scale. At extremely low volume it has been known to turn eyeballs inside out, so a perfect one for dinner parties with Jabba the Hutt. A positively hideous collection of notes that serves as a great aperitif.

5) Harmonic minor b4. Admiral Thrawn actually uses this mode for dismemberment of annoying family members, so judicious use is recommended. Its formula is 1 2 b3 b4 5 b6 7 and is the first mode of the scale of the same name. It is very similar to the standard Harmonic minor scale that is only mildly threatening over a dominant chord, so best substituted for that one if possible.

4) Now, I have this on the authority of Moff Tarkin, that this mode makes light work of descaling battle cruisers, so all those maintenance slaves take note. The Neapolitan minor #4 mode has a formula of 1 b2 b3 #4 5 b6 7 and is mode IV of the Persian scale. Be warned though, the Persian scale has its devotees on some outer systems and could be used to their advantage if the battle enters into the stage known as ‘cutting heads’.

3) We enter the realm of diabolus musicus with the last three monstrosities. Moff Gideon swears by Lydian Dominant +, its formula is 1 2 3 #4 #5 6 b7 and is mode III of the Neapolitan Major scale. When played through a Leslie speaker it can produce a liquidisation effect so stand well back, preferably behind captives. Moff also said he had this played as he walked down the aisle. Such a nice man.

2) The penultimate mode of incontinence, and one that is surprisingly popular among tribes that holiday in a vacuum, the Double Harmonic. Its formula is 1 b2 3 4 5 b6 7 and is mode V of the Hungarian minor scale. Now don’t be fooled by the gentle bitterness that this mode generates on the palette. That is usually followed by convulsions and a turning inside out from the feet up. A rumour going round the outer ring has it that this mode is responsible for Darth Vader’s asthma. Be warned.

1) We have arrived at the ultimate mode of doom, one that only the most proficient psychopath can strum on a sabre-axe. In fact, it is reserved for the private improvs of the Emperor himself, so don’t even try to play it, just hope that one day you may hear it before you head off to the great helmet in the sky. Ionian +#26##4. Its formula is 1 #2 3 ##4 #5 #6 7 and is mode IV of the Harmonic minor b4 scale. (In fact, the Harmonic minor b4 scale is one of the most hideous collection of notes in the galaxy, as the two modes from it here can attest. I even use it as my doorbell tune.) I would add that any unauthorised renditions of Ionian +#26##4 is punishable by death, but as that is also the side effect of playing it, I won’t.

I hope you have been thoroughly repulsed by these modes and perhaps add one to your repertoire against the rebellion. I have added the tabs and notation of all of the modes mentioned here in the comment below.

Next time, I shall be focusing on drones and how to use these modes without resolving to a stable key. All notes in red are altered when compared to the C Major scale.

I cover all 66 scales in depth and how to use them in my book The Modal Method of Music, available here Happy riffing.

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