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In this guitar lesson we are going to be learning how the Lydian mode is made, what notes give it its unique sound and a common Lydian scale shape. The Lydian scale is considered a major scale so it will be a bit happier sounding than say a natural minor scale. We have given you a scale diagram so that you can easily practice this scale shape.
Let’s start off by looking at an A major scale and altering just one note in that scale to come up with an A Lydian scale. The notes in the A major scale are 1A 2B 3C# 4D 5E 6F# 7G#. The formula for making any major scale into a Lydian scale is to simply raise the 4th degree of that major scale one half step. The 4th scale degree of A major is a D note. All you need to do to make this A major scale into an A Lydian scale is raise the D to a D#. Now you would have an A Lydian scale, spelled 1A 2B 3C# 4D# 5E 6F# 7G#. Go through the scale diagram several times to get the shape under your fingers and the sound in your head.
You can also think of the Lydian mode as being based off of the 4th scale degree of any major scale. In other words if you went to the 4th degree of any major scale and started playing from there, you would be in the Lydian mode. Let’s stick with our A major scale for an example. D is the 4th scale degree in the A major scale. If you started on a D and played an A major scale, you would be playing a D Lydian scale.
It doesn’t matter which way you choose to think about it because the important thing is to be able to hear and express what the Lydian mode sounds like.
The notes that really define the Lydian mode are the 1st, 3rd, and raised 4th scale degrees. The 1st gives us our tonal center or starting point and the 3rd gives us the major sounding quality. The raised 4th scale degree is really the note that gives the Lydian mode it’s defining sound. Think about the theme song for “The Simpsons”. This is probably the best know Lydian sounding melody in the world. The whole tone scale is something that I always think of when I hear the Lydian scale too.
Try recording an A major or A major 7 chord over and over or have a friend play one of these chords for you. Play around with this scale and really pay attention to how the 4th scale degree sounds. If you like the sound of the Lydian mode, you should try to learn more of the Lydian guitar scale shapes. Check out some of Joe Satriani’s music. He is rather famous for the ways that he expresses the Lydian mode.