1
The Modes of the Major Scale - The Lydian Mode

Published December 11th, 2002. © Chris Juergensen/chrisjuergensen.com. All Rights Reserved.

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


The Lydian mode -The last two lessons dealt with the first two modes of the major scale, the dorian and the phrygian modes. Both these minor modes lead us to the first major mode of the major scale, the lydian mode. As we'll discover, the lydian mode contains a #11th giving it a harmonic sense of momentum.

 
Once again, knowing the major scale is the key to everything. If you need to work on 'em, do it now.
Pattern 1
Pattern 2
Pattern 3
Pattern 4
Pattern 5

Let's review a bit here. These are all the modes of the major scale. This lesson will deal with the fourth one, the lydian mode.
1. Ionian mode (the major scale)
2. Dorian mode
3. Phrygian mode
4. Lydian mode
5. Mixolydian mode
6. Aolian mode (the natural minor scale)
7. Locrian mode
 
For demonstrational purposes, let's take C lydian as an example. As you can see in the chart below, the C lydian mode is the same as the G major scale and works over a Cmaj7 chord.
 
Key
ionian
dorian
phrygian
lydian
mixolydian
aolian
locrian
C
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
G
G
A
B
C
D
E
F#
D
D
E
F#
G
A
B
C#
A
A
B
C#
D
E
F#
G#
E
E
F#
G#
A
B
C#
D#
B
B
C#
D#
E
F#
G#
A#
F#
F#
G#
A#
B
C#
D#
E#
C#
C#
D#
E#
F#
G#
A#
B#
Cb
Cb
Db
Eb
Fb
Gb
Ab
Bb
Gb
Gb
Ab
Bb
Cb
Db
Eb
F
Db
Db
Eb
F
Gb
Ab
Bb
C
Ab
Ab
Bb
C
Db
Eb
F
G
Eb
Eb
F
G
Ab
Bb
C
D
Bb
Bb
C
D
Eb
F
G
A
F
F
G
A
Bb
C
D
E
maj7
min7
min7
maj7
7
min7
min7b5
 

The Lydian Mode
The lydian mode: If we compare it to the C major and C lydian scale below it we can see the difference. It looks a lot like the major scale with the exceptionof the raised 4th.Like I said before the raised 4th gives the ear the sensation of momentum, this mode sounds super modern.
 
C lydian scale
C major scale

 Harmonizing the Lydian Mode

Making chords from the lydian scale: If we start making chords from the scale, by stacking it by the root, third, and fifth we first get a major triad. If we add the seventh, we get a maj7th chord. If we continue, we'll get a major 9th chord, and that's where the similarities end with the major scale. The raised 11th. makes a maj7#11th chord. After that a major 13th chord. A rule to remember; a maj13th chord has to have either a #11th or no 11th at all, a natural 11th (same as a 4th) tends to rub against the 3rd, giving an unpleasant effect. A natural 11th can only be included if the 3rd is ommited, making the chord a sus chord. In this case the 11th is considered a 4th rather than an 11th. This mode usually gets used against a maj7, 9, or #11th chord but sometimes gets used against a IV - V chord progression, in this case a C - D chord progression.

Chords from the lydian mode: maj, maj7, maj9, maj7#11, maj13, add9, 69

 
Some "lydian" chords:

Playing the Lydian Mode
Just like the previous two modes, to figure out on the spot what major scale you need to be playing. Let's say you need to play a solo and the chart they give you says you have to play a solo over a Gmaj7#11 vamp. You need to figure out what major scale you need to be playing so you just remember your lydian scale mode rule which is: lydian mode = major scale up a perfect 5th. Remember how this works? If G is on the third fret, D is a perfect fifth from that note. All you have to do is play a D major scale over the Gmaj7#11 chord and you'll be groovin' away with the lydian mode.
 
Test time. Get out your pencil and paper and then check your answers down at the bottom.
 
Test
1. E lydian = ? major 6. Bb lydian = ? major
2. B lydian = ? major 7. D lydian = ? major
3. G lydian = ? major 8. A lydian = ? major
4. C lydian = ? major 9. F lydian = ? major
5. F# lydian = major 10. Eb lydian = ? major
 
Try playing over the following progression. Use an A lydian scale over the first chord. Remember; a perfect fifth above A is E so just play an E major scale over the chord and everything will work out ok. C lydian = G major, E lydian = B major.
 
 
I used this progression to solo over on the title cut from my "Prospects" cd. Click here to hear it.

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

Have a question or a suggestion for a lesson, e-mail chris.
Click here to get an e-mail everytime a new lesson is posted.
If this lesson was just what you were looking for, consider making a donation. Only through your support are they made possible.
 
donate

Rather than a donation, help support these free lessons by buying one of Chris' CDs, you'll be happy you did!

Information on the newly published, 266 page "THE INFINITE GUITAR" based on these lessons.
Information on the newly published book, "THE EMPOWERED MUSICIAN" based on these articles.