It just has a naturally mesmorising sound.
Ethereal is a good word to describe it. As a result, you hear Lydian a
lot in film and TV soundtracks, because certain intervals in Lydian
(e.g. the tritone, which we'll learn about) have a naturally alluring
and immersive quality.
First, some important theory, then we'll look at
the Lydian mode on guitar and how to apply it fluidly in your solos (click
for a great head start with this).
Don't know what the W's
mean? If so, take the intervals
lesson before you go on.
If you've been through the Ionian (1st mode) lesson, you'll see that
the only difference between Ionian and Lydian is the sharp 4th
4th tone has been sharpened one half step (the
equivalent of 1 fret) from its natural position in the major
However, even though only one tone has changed, it creates a completely
So, similar to Ionian, Lydian is a major
mode (because of
the major 3rd interval) and can be simply used as a scale over certain
Let's just first listen to a typical interval sequence to get a flavour
That simple little sequence alone invokes that unmistakable Lydian
atmosphere. Once you get an ear for it, you'll start to hear it being
used a lot on TV and at the movies.
Lydian mode on guitar
Let's start by mapping out the main box pattern on the
fretboard for the Lydian mode. This pattern spans just 4 frets
and offers a very convenient fingering...
- the root
defines the key of the scale, so if, for example, that root note lied
on the note F,
it would be F Lydian,
and would most often be played over an F major chord - more on playing
over chords later (with backing tracks!).
If you don't yet know where all the notes lie, spend some time
studying the fretboard. There is some great interactive
software to help you with this.
Later on in this modes series, we'll look at how to
expand out of that box and use more of the fretboard.
now, though, here's the suggested fingering
for the above pattern.
Playing Lydian over
We know from the Ionian lesson that a scale/mode that includes the root
(1), 3rd (3) and 5th (5) forms a major
. This means that the
scale in question will be a major scale and therefore will
be compatible with major chords and certain major key
The major 7th
Sounds simple, and it is really, but the position of the 7th defines which type of major chord
is compatible beyond the basic major triad - dominant
7th, or major
As demonstrated above, Lydian, like any mode, can work as an individual
scale over an
individual chord. But it can also work over a modal chord progression
(more on this later in the series), because modes have related chord
even though the jam track below moves between two chords (F
and G major),
still be the primary mode used because the chords I have chosen fit
within the modal scale (which, again, don't worry about the detail
This is a very typical Lydian movement, over two major chords a whole
step apart (as are F and G major), with the lower chord being the
Lydian root (F major in this example).
Later in the series, we'll look at how to expand out of those
restrictive boxes. For now, just focus on using different phrases from
within Lydian and experiment with different target notes within the
scale. You'll hear what sounds good, and what sounds
Build on your good ideas, ditch what doesn't work. Enjoy it!