The Modes of the Melodic Minor Scale - The Lydian Dominant Mode

Published May 21st, 2003. © Chris Juergensen/chrisjuergensen.com. All Rights Reserved.

This lesson has been revised and published in THE INFINITE GUITAR. Info >>>

The Lydian Dominant Mode - This mode of the melodic minor scale will help you get a bit of a more jagged vibe when playing over dominant chords.

If you don't have all your patterns of the melodic minor scales down, get going on them now.
Pattern 1
Pattern 2
Pattern 3
Pattern 4
Pattern 5

Review time. These are all the modes of the melodic minor scale. This lesson will deal with the fourth mode, the lydian dominant mode.
1. Melodic Minor
2. Dorian b2 mode
3. Lydian Augmented mode
4. Lydian Dominant mode
5. Mixolydian b6 mode
6. Locrian #2 mode
7. Altered mode (sometimes called the Super Locrian mode)
The order of the modes will never change even when the key does. Examine the chart below. By checking the very bottom row of the chart you can find out what chord the mode works for. Ex: the E lydian dominant mode is the same as the B melodic minor scale and works over a E unaltered dominant chord.
melodic minor
dorian b2
lydian augmented
lydian dominant
mixolydian b6
locrain #2
E# (F)
altered 7

The lydian dominant mode
The use of this scale is given away by it's name; Lydian = #11, dominant = b7. This scale forms unaltered dominant chords but keep in mind it, unlike the mixolydian mode it contains a raised 11th.
Chords from the lydian dominant mode: 7, 9, 7#11, 13. Remember: no 7sus4 chords found anywhere in the vicinity of this scale.
Compare the mixolydian scale to the lydian dominant scale below and check out the differences.
E mixolydian scale
E lydian dominant
Anytime you run into an unaltered dominant chord, you can use the lydian dominant mode. Remember the lydian dominant mode rule: lydian dominant = melodic minor scale up a perfect 5th.
Test time. Get out your pencil and paper and then check your answers down at the bottom.
1. A lydian dominant = ? mm 6. B lydian dominant = ? mm
2. E lydian dominant = ? mm 7. D lydian dominant = ? mm
3. G lydian dominant = ? mm 8. F lydian dominant = ? mm
4. C lydian dominant = ? mm 9. D lydian dominant = ? mm
5. F# lydian dominant = mm 10. Bb lydian dominant = ? mm

To get used to the sound of this scale, I would suggest that you simply play it over a simple one-chord C9 vamp. THis will help your ears get used to the sound. Try mixing it up with the blues for a spectacular effect:

This scale can be used as a replacement for the mixolydian scale over just about any dominant chord (except a sus chord) but one big giveaway for this scale is when a bV sub pops up in a ii - V - I. Check out the example below. Play C dorian (Bb major) over the Cmin11 chord, B lydian dominant (F# melodic minor) over the bV sub, B7#11 chord and Bb lydian (F major) over the Bbmaj7 chord.

You might find the following example difficult. Up to now all the exercises we have worked on have been just that; exercises. This one is a real song. First record or sequence the chord progression at a very slow tempo and gradually speed it up. For fun you might want to try to interchange the mixolydian mode with the lydian dominant mode from time to time. This song, "Extraordinaire" is on my latest cd, "Prospects." If you want to hear how I played over the changes click here.



If the videos cannot be viewed, go here: pt.1, pt.2

Test Answers
1. E mm 6. F# mm
2. B mm 7. A mm
3. D mm 8. C mm
4. G mm 9. A mm
5. C# mm 10. F mm

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