Is There Locrian Synthwave? Well, Now There Is.

photo of a cassette tape on a colorful background

One of the things that’s helped fuel a renewed interest in making music after a long, lazy absence has been educational Youtube videos.

Everything from tutorials regarding specific techniques (How to get the delay effect from X, or How to create a synthwave song using Y software) to general musical channels by knowledgeable music geeks and musicians of every stripe. One of them happens to be Adam Neely.

Taking Inspiration from Better Composers

Adam posted a recent video showcasing how he and four other composers challenged themselves to build songs using the Locrian mode.

If you have 22 minutes, it is a fascinating look at how modern composers work under limitations.

The Locrian Scale Myself

So of course, I went and tried it for myself, choosing the B Locrian scale (which has no sharps or flats). Turned out to be much more difficult than I thought.

The B Locrian scale
The B Locrian scale

The problem: the Locrian mode is possibly one of the strangest sounding musical scales in Western music.

The lack of a perfect fifth in the scale makes it difficult to have a restful “home chord” to land on and resolve everything.

Still, it was a good challenge to come up with something. And it opened my eyes to interesting patterns you can use within the very specific parameters of a scale.

Building a Synthwave Vibe

What I started with was a repeating arpeggiator pattern using the Friktion strings instrument in Reason, then a melodic line using the Monofury64. Followed by a soothing pad and a matching melody. Drums used were primarily from free drum VSTis 99 Sounds Drum Machine and the GB Drumbox.

In keeping with the Acid42 aesthetic (if that even exists), this tune is fun, quirky, and synth-full. It isn’t the dreamy 80s-nostalgic synthwave that often comes with retro video game graphics, but it uses the same inspiration.

Below is “Disinformation is the Disease.”


Software: Reason 10 – Friktion Strings, Subtractor
Free VSTis: 99 Sounds Drum Machine, GB Drumbox, Monofury, Synth1, TyrellN6, TAL-U-NO-62
Paid VSTis: Vacuum Pro

Image Credits
Photo by Stas Knop from Pexels


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