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. If used as the first chord in a bridge or m8 section, it feels as if the section ‘takes off’.
The best way to approach learning the Lydian mode is to start with your trusted Major Pentatonic. From here, simply add the #4 and maj7, like this:
Do not underestimate the importance of being able to solo in Lydian as most songs use the IV chord.
You need to practise this formula in all five shapes before you start connecting them. Let’s start with the E shape.
The E shape
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 demonstrates how to play the E shaped Lydian scale by adding the intervals to the pentatonic scale.
When you take the step by step advanced course, we first play it in A, then move it around the cycle of 4th: A – D – G – C – F – Bb – Eb – Ab – Db – Gb – B – E.
The A shape
This is a very compact shape, possibly the easiest A shape to improvise with, out of all the modes.
Looks like this in chordacus.
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 shape
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…
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 practised 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 shape
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 shape
Looking at the C shaped Lydian mode, can you still see the chord and the Major Pentatonic shape?
Notice how the #4 has moved to the next string in comparison to the Ionian C shape.
This is the last shape to learn. When you’ve taken the C shape and all other shapes around the cycle of 4th, it is time to start connecting them.
If you hesitate on a specific shape, simply go back and work on that individual shape again, these things will help:
- Add the intervals on by one to pentatonic
- Sing along
- Change the rhythm
- Move it around the cycle of 4th
Once you know all your Lydian shapes individually, you need to connect them. The video lesson demonstrates this in A, but you need to do this in all keys in order to ingrain the shapes into your hands.
Try different rhythms, triplets are used in the video but any rhythm is possible.
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 lesson demonstrating the concept.
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 #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 part and songwriting.
Remember, always build from a pentatonic to get the phrasing right. You wanna know when you add the #4, not guess.
The Lydian mode is mode four and belongs to chord IV.
Whenever a song has a IV chord you can use Lydian and really play with the chord progression and with the music.
If you can already swap pentatonic scales 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 course goes well deep into it with real musical examples.
Just playing Lydian scale shapes, like you’ve seen here, really is just the beginning!