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The Lydian Mode

Justinguitar.com on Scales

The Lydian Mode is type of major scale (it has a natural 3rd) and is in fact only one note different to the major scale - it has a #4 scale degree. This is a very cool sound indeed.

Scale Equation

I
II
III
IV
V
VI
VII
I
F Major
F
G
A
Bb
C
D
E
F
F Lydian
F
G
A
B
C
D
E
F
Modal Equation
1
2
3
#4
5
6
7
1


Basic Observations
There is only one note different here - the 4 has been replaced with a #4. It has a Major 3rd (3) so it's a Major type scale and it also has a Major 7th, so it's not Dominant.

Key Tone = #4
The #4 is the note that gives this mode it's flavour - otherwise it's the same as the major scale!!

Common Chords associated with the Lydian Mode:
Major type chords: Maj, Maj7, Maj6, Maj7#11, Maj9#11

Ionian Mode

Parent Major Scale (PMS)

The PMS is found a Perfect 5th above the tonal centre (or down a Perfect 4th).

The easiest way to do this is on the neck. Put your first finger on the TONAL CENTRE and your 3rd finger on the next string, two frets up and you will have it on the root of the Parent Major Scale.

Doing things like the on the instrument is FAR easier than trying to do in theory in your head. So do it! Look for the easy path.

 

Note Choices
The Lydian mode is cool because it doesn't really have the avoid note like the Major scale (in which the natural 4th is not really a nice sound, clashes with the 3rd of the chord). The #4 degree is dissonant but sounds cool, not wrong.

Many people use this instead of the major scale where there is an unrelated Major Chord, and even sometimes when it's a I chord in a key - it should (in theory sound wrong) but is a classic case of if it sounds good, it is good!

Like with all theory stuff, you MUST try it and hear it for yourself or it will never really make sense. It's ONLY your ears that can tell you when you can use a certain sound, especially with things like the Lydian Mode!

 

Practice

Ionian Mode

This diagram shows a Major Scale with the chord tones of the Lydian Major chord (in red). The red notes make up the TONAL CENTRE. The R showing the root of the TONAL CENTRE. The black notes make up the Lydian Mode.

The scale is of course, the Major Scale, Position 1 - which we use for all of learning about modes, so you can see clearly how the one scale gets used for each mode (it's a lot better way to learn them than having a different shape for each).

Put the scale with your first finger in the 7th fret (C Major, the root note is in the 8th fret of course) and play it over a F major chord (or other chords in the Common Chords shown above). Ideally you should record yourself a backing track, jam with a friend, or use the Lydian vamp (Track 8) on Really Useful Play Along Tracks.

Listen to how well the red notes sound over the chord and that the other notes link up the red notes and add flavours... make sure you try out resting on the #4 sound (the note B) and listen to how it sounds and the effect it has. It's out but oh so good ;)

This listening is the key to getting modes in your head and understanding how to use them. Let your ears teach you how to use the sound of the mode.

This mode is used a lot by modern rock guitar players and jazzers and once you practice it and get the sound in your head it will become easy to recognise. So keep an ear out for it, and find some places to use it!

 

Lesson ID: SC-514