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In a Locrian mode… apparently?: A White Chair In A Yellow Room

edited January 20 in Creations

So I was watching a music theory guy on YouTube and he was saying how almost no-one ever uses the Locrian scale. Since a) I know nothing at all about why that might be so, knowing no music theory whatsoever, (watching YouTube hasn’t helped) and b) liking a challenge, I thought I’d give it a go.

Octachron and Zoa on sequencing duties, my current fave Lo-Fi Tape on wonky brass, BLEASS Sidekick on drums, Bass 808 on, well, bass, a bit of Shockwave, mutated whale song samples and SoundSaw on atmospheres, plus the usual shedload of reverbs.

Just to make it a bit more difficult, I decided to make it my second Talker based ‘story’ piece. Luckily (?) I had an unnerving recent nightmare to base it on. Trying to capture that thing in dreams where the intensity of a dream emotion (in this case, panty-wetting terror) can be all out of whack with the apparently objective ‘reality’ within the dream. As ever, interested to see what people think?


  • Very cool tune. Pretty danceable too!

  • edited January 21

    Thank you! I’ve never been accused of knowingly making something danceable before! Though I’m thinking some vaguely synchronised zombie stumble might be about as close as this gets.. :)

  • Wow... this reminds me of the first time I read "The Tell Tale Heart", by Edgar Allen Poe. I will give this a proper listen tonight after work. Nice work!

  • You would have been burnt alive or crucified for this song in the middle ages :)

  • edited January 22

    @Paulieworld : thank you! Old Edgar Allen was my first and most enduring love, though Howard Philips runs him a close second; Poe the (substantially) greater stylist, Lovecraft the more outré imagination… The escalating insanity of the narrator of The Tell Tale Heart is a master class in building tension that had a big impact on me when I first read it. I’ve spent the next fifty years trying to get close to it. Still trying…

    @GLacey : Thanks… I think? :) I’ll take that as a compliment, anyway!

  • @Svetlovska said:

    @GLacey : Thanks… I think? :) I’ll take that as a compliment, anyway!

    Yes, it’s definitely a compliment :)

  • Try some Alice in Chains. Plenty of Locrian in there.

  • @Ailerom: any specific recommendations? (Since by ear I wouldn’t know Locrian from a hole in the ground).

  • edited January 22

    All Secrets Known
    Angry Chair
    Cut You In (Jerry Cantrell)

  • @Ailerom : thanks! Going to check them out now. :)

  • @Svetlovska said:
    @Ailerom : thanks! Going to check them out now. :)

    Disclaimer. I don't know much. I just know when I play Locrian scales over these songs it sounds great. Perhaps there is a more sophisticated version of "this is Locrian" but that's what I go by.

  • edited January 22

    @Ailerom : what I did pick up from the tutorial - this one:

    was that one reason people don’t like it is that it makes it hard to ‘go anywhere’ else with it. Since I am rarely known to change chords, this didn’t seem to be a problem. Ignorance is bliss etc.

    I noticed on the Angry Chair track you recommended that Alice In Chains seemed to have done more or less the same thing for most of the song. Sounded great :)

    Also - although it takes the whole of the guy’s vid to get there, I did genuinely really like the piece he came up with at the end, which isn’t true of most of the stuff he does.

    I also watch Adam Nealy,

    who I prefer, and who makes awe inspiringly technical jazz based vids about theory, - including Locrian, as here - most of which to my ears reminds me of when I read Steven Hawkins’ A Brief History Of Time. That is, I can understand individual words, sentences paragraphs, but what it all adds up to is -



  • @Svetlovska said:
    @Ailerom : what I did pick up from the tutorial - this one:

    Cool video. Glad I watched that.

  • This is incredulously disturbing. I like it. Strange dreams are indeed difficult to personify. You did an excellent job at portraying the conflicted mind.

  • One thing I've learned, although I'm not sure I believe it totally, is that Locrian is not pleasing, apparently. Personally I love it.

  • edited January 23

    @Blipsford_Baubie : thank you! I am on a bit of a dream quest at the moment (though not to unknown Kadath, at least not so far), hoping to pull together a half dozen or so tracks of various types themed around dreams and nightmares for my next, er, ‘mini album’ on Bandcamp.

    Since I ditched the Soundcloud Pro account I need to conduct periodic culling of the free version, and assembling mini mixes of past, current and prospective tracks around a theme to make an album on Bandcamp gives them a forever home on the old interwebs that offers something slightly different: an archival role distinct from SoundCloud, plus it also gives me a focus for the daily noodling.

    Working title for this literal dream project: Pavor Nocturnus, the diagnostic name for the intense nightmares, often accompanied by physical thrashing and usually unintelligible utterances, colloquially known as night terrors.

    Most common in children, (I was one, and sleep walked too), a small percentage of adults are likewise afflicted. What could they be thinking…? :)

  • edited January 22

    @Ailerom : I second that emotion. Along with another apparently ‘difficult’ scale, the Enigmatic, Locrian seems to lend itself to uneasy, unresolving soundscapes - which I find a very good fit for my kind of noise. I’m sure if I knew more about harmony, the circle of fifths and all that jazz (literally) I would understand why this is such a problem, but when someone calls a scale ‘sour’ (Ben in Adam Nealy’s vid above) I just want to suck it and see. Sour is cool 😎

  • Uhh nice.
    I have been a bit curious on locrian my self.
    When i was a kid i always felt sorry for the monsters and i kind of feel the same way anout locrian.

  • I have listened to this several times. This is why I think it's very good...

    You open with "In my dream..." and your character sounds like a deeply troubled person who is "mostly sane", but flirting with insanity.

    Your timing is perfect. Sometimes the space between the words is as important as the words themselves.

    You ended the narrative at just the right time, leaving the reader with a sense of impending doom, but sparing the gory details. The imagination is always more terrifying than the real world.

    Here in Chicago, we have something called the "Poetry Slam" at the Green Mill (Google it). You would be a big hit!

    I would love to hear more!

  • @Paulieworld : thank you for your kind words, and that detailed analysis :). Chicago is one of my favourite American cities, the way it spreads along the lakeshore, the Field Museum, all the bookshops, a very cultured and liveable city (which no one should ever, for example, accuse LA of, at least not if they are a pedestrian!); and one of my favourite fictional ‘tecs lives there, V.I. Warshawski… When I first visited, having read the books, I felt like I already knew the place…

    Yes, I have participated in ‘short story slams’ - stand up short story reading in front of a live audience - a few times, and very much enjoyed the experience. Though short fiction, not poetry, is my safe place :) I’ve also toyed with doing some kind of multimedia thing, using PowerPoint images and audio as backing to a live reading. A project for the non Covid future perhaps.

    I like these speech app snippets too, and probably will do more of them, but the available tech is too limited to use over more than a few sentences at a time - super short stories!

    I chop the sentences up into short phrases, each to a button in the Talker app, then trigger them live over the finished audio mix, screen recording everything as a second pass. Doing it this way lets me put in a little more inflection to the otherwise robotic app voice, but it’s nerve wracking live-recording stuff, (I’m more tense than she is!) and can only be done as a screen recording over a completed mix as Talker is not AU, which limits the interaction between figure (the speech) and ground (the soundscape) which I would otherwise like to do. I could go full DAW, export stems, blah blah blah, but that all becomes too buzz kill. So yeah: only very short stories for that method for the foreseeable.

  • I hadn't actually listened to it until now. It has a great disturbing sound to it. Really captures the vibe you described well. I couldn't pull myself away from the story and had to go to the end. Very cool. To me this captures what people mean when they speak of music as art. Hopefully that's not an insult. There is not much I think of as artistic about my music but there is more to this piece than just music and words.

  • Weird, the tune that plays here is totally different to the one that I listened to earlier on soundcloud; they’re both great, this one as spooky as advertised, the other one really melodic and sweet…

  • edited January 25

    @Ailerom : ‘music as art’ ? That sounds like the highest praise, thank you! :)

    @Krupa : ? That’s weird. There are one or two uncharacteristically melodic pieces of mine on SoundCloud, I wonder if some sort of server glitch served you up the wrong track?. Or did they both have the Irish female spoken word thing on? I’ve just checked, and for me the version at the top of this page, and on SoundCloud are identical.

  • I’ll check again later, but it was the phone notification from soundcloud that I followed initially; I was well confused as I’d fully expected dark 😁 probably just a server glitch as you say …

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