Tag Archives: Lydian mode

The Best Way To Use Lydian and 5 Musical Ideas

You should have the Lydian Mode or Lydian Scale in your vocabulary. It is a beautiful and great sound that you can work into your guitar playing in a musical way as a great extra color.

When we think of Lydian then it is only about the #4 or #11 and you can’t make great melodies with just one note, so in this video, I am going over how to 5 ways you can make some great Lydian melodies and add those to your playing. That way you can really get started working on using The Lydian sound like a great extra color in your guitar solos

The Lydian Mode is often what I hear beginners say that they use because they think it sounds great to say that and actually they are just looking for a scale where they can run up and down the scale without thinking about it.


0:00 Intro

0:41 How You Should Use Lydian

0:54 A Bit of Context in a Chord Progression

1:38 Where to use it and How Often?

1:50 Example #1

1:54 A Great Pentatonic Solution for Lydian

2:47 Example #1 Slow

2:53 The Difficulty thing about how we think about Lydian

3:23 Example #2

3:28 A Lydian Triad Pair

4:54 Example #2 Slow

5:01 Example #3

5:06 A real Lydian Arpeggio?

6:01 Example #3 Slow

6:06 Example #4

6:10 Shifting Up An Arpeggio a 1/2 step

7:32 Example #4 Slow

7:56 Example #5

8:01 A great Sus4 triad and how to move it around in a melody,

9:36 Example #5 Slow

9:43 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page

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The Pentatonic Scale for Dorian and Lydian You Forgot to Check out

The Hirajoshi is a Japanese Pentatonic scale. As you will see in this lesson it is a great modal pentatonic scale choice for getting sounds like Lydian and Dorian across. 

I will not only try to give you some licks and exercises that are a good way to explore the sound of this scale. This lesson is also a good demonstration of how I work with a scale to become more familiar with it and some of the things I do to find Melodic ideas, arpeggios and patterns.

The Hirajoshi Scale

There seems to be some discussion on which note is the root of the scale according to Wikipedia.

For what I am using it for, namely a set of notes that I can superimpose over a chord, that is not so important.

For this lesson we will consider E to be the root, and the The Hirajoshi scale consists of these notes:

E F# G B C

How to play this scale on the guitar

There are a few ways that we can choose to play the scale on the guitar. The “normal” way to play pentatonic scales is to play them 2 notes per string. It is not immediately obvious that it makes sense to do this for this scale, but since we already have patterns and are very used to working like pentatonic scales like this it is useful to do so.

You can of course do this in 5 positions. One of which is written out here below:

Another way that you can play these 5 notes is as a condensed Cmaj7(#11) arpeggio. We can then fit the 5 notes into a fairly close area, and move that fingering up in octaves as shown in example 3.

Looking for the Hirojoshi chords.

By just looking at which notes are contained in the scale we can construct a few chords:

C major triad, E minor triad, Bsus4 triad, F#dim(sus4)

As shown here below.

In fact we have a complete Cmaj7 arpeggio, and this is the main reason it works so well for C Lydian and A Dorian

I don’t use this on E minor chords because it does not have a 7th.

Exploring the different Pentatonic Chords

One way to look at what chords you can find is to take a voicing that is in there and moved it through the scale. In the example below I made the observation that the scale contains a Gmaj7 shell voicing (G, B and F#) and then I move that through the scale along the neck on the middle string set.

Another way of playing Diatonic chords in the pentatonic scales is to use the 2 note per string fingerings. When you stack “thirds” (In a pentatonic scale they are mostly not 3rds) you get all the notes under each other on different strings.

This is shown below.

The voicings gives us a rootless D7(13) or Am6/9 type quartal voicing. Followed by a 1st inversion C major triad. The next voicing is an F# quartal voicing followed by a C lydian triad and finally an E minor in 2nd inversion.

It can also be very useful to take this voicings up the neck on a string set as shown here below.

Melodic Scale Patterns

2 note per string patterns are really good for creating some systematic patterns that you can take through the scale, 

Here below is an example of such a pattern which is in fact a 5 note figure repeated down through sets of two strings.

A similar pattern that is also relying on the 2 note per string fingering is shown in example 9.

The A Dorian lick examples

The first example is using the Quartal arpeggio from C (C, F# and B). I slide into the first note from the B below.  The next part of the line is using two string sets of the 2nd pattern in example 9.

The final part of the phrase is a small scale melody ending on the F# that if we use it on an Am7 is an Am13 sound.

The video has an Am13 vamp as a backing track for the Dorian Pentatonic lick, but you could just as easily have used a Cmaj7(#11) chord.

The 2nd Dorian lick starts with an Em(add9) arpeggio for two octaves. From there it continues with a melody coming out of a Cmaj7(b5) arpeggio (which is of couse also contained in the scale)

The phrase ends with a scale run down to B that is the resolution of the lick.

C Lydian Pentatonic licks

Even though you can switch the licks around I have grouped them in the Dorian and Lydian examples. This is actually coming from the backing that I use on the video, so on the first two I have an Am13 vamp, and on the last two there is a Cmaj7(#11) vamp behind the lick.

In the first Cmaj7(#11) example the line is using a few more structures. The first is an Em triad in 1st inversion with a leading note. This is followed by a Bsus4 triad. The second bar is a Cmaj7 arpeggio and the line ends, as it begun, with a 1st inversion E minor triad.

The 2nd Lydian example is making more use of the scale itself as a melody, so the first bar is basically a descending scale run. The 2nd bar is combining two shell voicings that I use  as arpeggios. First a Gmaj7 followed by a Cmaj7. The phrase ends with G and E encircling the final note: F#.

Modal Pentatonic scales

Since modes are defined by more notes than 5 it does not really make too much sense to consider a pentatonic scale a complete picture of a mode. That said this mode contains the material to really emphasize both the Lydian and the Dorian sounds. I think those are clearly expressed by the C, F# and G against either a C or an A bass note.

I hope you can use the ideas and examples that I went over to start using this scale and also that you can take this as a method to explore other scales and find out what patterns or arpeggios they contain that you might like.

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3 types of Rhythm Changes licks you NEED to know

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Lydian Mode

I’ve had a lot of requests for a lesson on the lydian mode, so I thought I’d finally try to honour that. I’ll try to give you some melodic and harmonic tools to make it easier to make lines that has that sound. The lessons also contains some examples of how you can use them in a II V I as a surprising sound on the I chord.

The Lydian mode

Let’s first shortly look at what the Lydian Mode is. If you play a Maj7th chord as if it is a IV chord in a major scale you have pretty much the same as the normal major or ionian sounds, but you also have the #4 or #11 in the sound. If we look at that in the key of C this means that we play it using the  G major scale that gives us this build up of the chord:

C E G B D F# A

The main feature being the F# in the chord.

You should note that I am considering the Lydian sound something that is connected to one chord, in this case a Cmaj7(#11). I don’t see it as a key or really think it makes too much sense to think of a songs as being in D lydian etc.

For this lesson I’ll try to keep my examples around this position of the G major scale:

Lydian Mode ex 2


Lydian Maj7th chords

Let’s first check some chord voicings since it often makes things a lot clearer if you know what the sound of a lydian chord is in whatever context you want to use it. Most of the time on guitar we leave the 5th out when playing the #11, so in essence you get a Maj7b5 chord. I have another lesson on Maj7b5 chords and how you can use them which you might want to check: Maj7b5 Chords and Arpeggios – a powerful tool for superimposition. But here are a few chord voicings that are useful:

Lydian Mode ex 1

When you start to insert these chords into songs you might come across places where it won’t work in the context, not so much that the chord don’t sound good by itself, but more because it doesn’t work with what just happened or will happen in the progression. Mostly because it makes it sound like the chords coming after it or just before it.

 Lydian melodic ideas

The trick to get the lydian sound in you lines is in my experience mostly about emphasizing the #11 but not lose the sound of the chord, so what we need are a few melodic devices that helps with that. The way I am going to go about that is to find some structures that contain the base of the chord: 3rd and 7th (E and B in this case) and the #11 (F#) .

The first example is in fact just summing up those 3 notes B E F# which gives us a Bsus4 triad to make lines with. Sus triads are great devices if you check out Mark Turner you’ll hear them often used in his playing.

Lydian Mode ex 3

The II V I line is quite basic: Over the Dm7 I used an FMaj7 arpeggio and a G7 arpeggio over the G7 chord. On the Cmaj7 the first half of the bar is playing the Bsus4 triad from F# to B and from there it descends down the scale to an F#

Another fairly obvious structure to use is of course the Maj7b5 arpeggio (C E F# B), which many don’t check out because it is not strictly a diatonic arpeggio in any scale.

Lydian Mode ex 4

The Dm7 part of the line is an Am triad, and on the G7alt I am infact playing a scale fragment from the C harmonic minor scale. The Cmaj7(#11) line starts out with a  Cmaj7b5 drop2 voicing played as an arpeggio. After that the line continues scalewise down until it ends on an E.

If we extend the B E F# and add a D and an A we have the B minor pentatonic scale which also is a solid device we can put to use for lydian sounding lines:

Lydian Mode ex 5

The Dm7 line is a scale run from F to C. On the G7 it is an Bbm7 or Db6 arpeggio. The Cmaj7 line is first a pentatonic scale pattern similar to playing the scale in diatonic thirds. After that the line ends on a B.

If you want to download the examples for later study I have them here as a PDF:

Lydian Mode

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