Welcome to this month’s edition of Lethal Guitar. As I write this, I’m preparing for a two-week extravaganza teaching for the National Guitar Workshop in Maclean, VA and Nashville, TN. This is my fourth year with the company, and I truly enjoy teaching students from all over the country and the world with NGW. If you want to accelerate your guitar playing exponentially, I certainly suggest a week or two at NGW. I love it and so will you!
Today’s lesson will focus on the Lydian mode/scale. Many great guitarists use this mode to add a different flavor to their melodies. It’s relatively easy to apply and gives an outside feeling to your music, creating an interesting tension for the listener. The Lydian scale in its most fundamental form is simply a major scale with a raised fourth scale degree. For example, let’s take the C major scale: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. By simply raising the fourth degree, F, to F#, we have a C Lydian scale, C, D, E, F#, G, A, B, C. This goes well over a major chord, but with a few simple alterations, we can apply this scale to a number of different types of chords. Let’s explore some of the possibilities.
Example1: First let’s illustrate the basic Lydian scale in G. This would be applicable to a major or major seventh chord, also in G. Notice that the fourth scale tone has been raised from a C to C#.
Example 2: A common variation on the basic Lydian is the Lydian Dominant. This is achieved by flatting the seventh tone of the scale. In this example we’ll use the G Lydian dominant, the flat seven being F natural. This would work over a Dominant seventh chord or a sus2 of the same name (G7 or Gsus2).
Example 3: If we sharp the two of the Lydian, we can also apply this idea to a minor chord, as the sharp two is synonymous with the flat three in G minor, A#/Bb.
Example 4: Here we can use the Lydian over a flat five chord by not only raising the two, but by raising the sixth E to E#. This goes well over a Gb5 chord, and Gm7b5.
Example 5: The difference between a Lydian #2 and a Lydian b3 is that the #2 omits the natural 2, whereas the latter includes the natural two. The Lydian b3 will go well over a diminished chord of the same name, or G diminished.
Example 6: We can use the augmented chord under a Lydian #2 if we raise the fifth D to D#.
Example 7: If we raise the sixth and raise the fifth (augmented), our Lydian scale can be used over a seven flat five chord of the same name, G7b5.
Example 8: Finally, we take a look at the Lydian dominant augmented (long name but not hard to understand; Lydian = #4, dominant = b7, and augmented = #5). This works over an augmented seventh or G7+ (G augmented seventh).
Remember, transposing these ideas to all keys is of utmost importance in developing the ability to use them at will. If you’re not that familiar with the Lydian, start out with the basic Lydian scale (Ex. 1) and go from there. Over time, you’ll begin to incorporate the more complicated versions into your playing/writing. Thanks for tuning in, and I’ll see you guys next month in Lethal Guitar.