The Lydian mode belongs to the IV chord!

Lydian is the 4th mode and consequentially used over chord IV.

The scale sounds as if it wants to go somewhere, therefore many songs hold the IV chord back in parts.

If used as the first chord in a bridge or M8 that section then feels as if it “takes off”.

Do not underestimate the importance of being able to solo in Lydian as most songs use the IV chord.

The best way to approach learning Lydian is to start with your trusted Major Pentatonic. From here, simply add the #4 and maj7, like this:

Major Pentatonic:
Lydian: #4

You need to practice this formula in all five shapes before you start connecting them. Let’s start with the Em shape.

The E shaped Lydian mode

Looking at the chordacus image below, can you see the E shaped chord and major pentatonic?

Can you see the similarities between the Lydian and the Ionian E shape?

The video lesson demonstrate how to play teh E shaped Lydian mode by adding the intervals to the pentatonic scale.

When you can play it in A, move it around the cycle of 4th: A – D – G – C – F – Bb – Eb – Ab – Db – Gb – B – E.

The A shaped Lydian mode

This is a very compact shape, possibly the easiest A shape to improvise with out of all the modes.

Looks like this in Chordacus.

A Lydian, A shape

Just like you did with the E shape, you have to play through all keys in order to learn this shape.

Start with A as in the video lesson below, the move around the cycle.

The D shaped Lydian mode

Make sure you know where inside the D shaped Lydian mode you’d find the #4/#11.

You need to do this as the #4 is a very “full on” kind of note, when it’s right it is so right, when wrong it is so wrong…

A Lydian, D shape

The most difficult area to remember on the neck is the area below the D shape.

Now that we are in Lydian, it will become apparent how well you have practiced your D shaped major pentatonic and your d shaped Ionian shapes.

If you have been singing those intervals as you play the exercise this is easier.

The G shaped Lydian mode

The G shape is built just like all other shapes, start with your Pentatonic, add the correct intervals.

Here’s the chordacus image.

After the G shape it is only one more shape left so you’re almost there.

The C shaped Lydian mode

C shaped Lydian mode, can you still see chord and pentatonic?

Notice how the #4 has moved to the next string in comparison to the Ionian C shape.

A Lydian, C shape

This is the last shape to learn, when you’ve taken it and all other shapes around the cycle of 4th it is tme to start connecting them all.

If you stumble on a shape, simply go back and work on that individual shape again, these things will help:

  1. Add the intervals on by one to pentatonic
  2. Sing along
  3. Change the rhythm
  4. Move it around the cycle of 4th

Connect Lydian scale shapes

Once you know all your Lydian shapes individually, you need to connect them.

The video demonstrates this in A, but you need to do this in all keys in order to get the shapes into your hands.

Try different rhythms, triplets are used in the video but any rhythm is possible.

Lydian through the cycle of 4th

This exercise takes the Lydian mode and runs it through the cycle of 4th, but in a new direction.

Instead of jumping up and down the neck we now move to the closest possible shape, like this:

A Lydian – E shape
D Lydian – A shape
G Lydian – D shape
C Lydian – G shape
F Lydian – C shape

Repeat that pattern a fret up:

Bb Lydian – E shape
Eb Lydian – A shape
Ab Lydian – D shape
Db Lydian – G shape
Gb Lydian – C shape

Here’s a video demonstrating the concept.

Lydian Improvisation

This improvisation in A Lydian has no chord behind it so you can really hear the mode in its barest form.

Can you see the major pentatonic shapes?

Can you see and hear when I add the the #4th and maj7th?

Over chord IV, using the technique of new chord = new scale, Lydian is the winner.

Since most songs use chord IV, expect to spend a lot of time with Lydian, especially if you get into song writing and arrangement.

Remember, always build from a pentatonic to get the phrasing right. You wanna know when you add #4, not guess.

Conclusion Lydian

The Lydian mode is mode four and belong to chord IV.

When ever a song has a IV chord you can use Lydian and really play with the chord progression and with the music.

If you could already swap pentatonic as the chords change, adding a couple of notes to each shape isn’t that hard and Voila, you’re playing using modes!

If you want to find out more about Lydian then the Advanced Guitar Course goes well deep into it with real musical examples.

Just playing Lydian scale shapes really is just the beginning!