The lydian mode | Guitar lesson with Diagrams

What's the Lydian mode

jazz guitar scalesThe lydian mode is the fourth mode of the major scale. There are seven mode named ionian, dorian, phrygian, lydian, mixolydian, aeolian and locrian. It is a major type scale (because there is a major third) and very used to play over major chords. The Lydian mode has a very interesting sound because of its #4 (or #11) it is similar to the ionian mode but has a raised fourth (#4) instead of a perfect fourth. Playing the F lydian mode over a C major chord is the same as playing the C ionian mode starting with the fourth (F). The Lydian mode gets interesting when it is played over a major chord, for example playing a F lydian scale over a FM7 brings tension because of the raised fourth / raised eleventh (#4), it sounds "Lydian".

F Lydian mode F G A B C D E
Formula 1 2 3 #4 (#11) 5 6 7
Intervals W W W H W W H

(W = whole step ; H = half step)

You can play the lydian mode over the following chords :

maj, maj7,maj6, maj7#11, maj9#11, maj 6/9.

Triads, chords and arpeggios

The lydian scale is a major type scale, there are not many differences with the major scale (ionian mode) only the fourth is raised by a semitone. That means that major  triads, major seventh, and major sixth arpeggios are built the same way as the ionian mode. Only the major eleventh arpeggio is different from the ionian's. This following chart will help you to play any major triad or arpeggio.

F Lydian mode F G A B C D E
Formula 1 2 (9) 3 #4 (#11) 5 6 (13) 7
F Major triad 1 x 3 x 5 x x
F major sixth arpeggio 1 x 3 x 5 6 (13) x
F major seventh arpeggio 1 x 3 x 5 x 7

Comparison of the Lydian modes

There are four main Lydian modes. One is from the harmonic minor scale (the sixth mode), it is called Lydian #2 mode because it contains a major second (2 or 9) instead of a natural second (2). The three other modes are from the melodic minor scale, they are named Lydian augmented and Lydian dominant, respectively the third and fourth mode of the melodic minor scale. The Lydian augmented scale hase an augmented fifth (#5) whereas the Lydian dominant scale has a minor seventh (b7).

Lydian mode 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7
Lydian #2 mode 1 #2 3 #4 5 6 7
Lydian augmented 1 2 3 #4 #5 6 7
Lydian dominant 1 2 3 #4 5 6 b7


Lydian guitar diagrams

Here are two recommended guitar patterns to play the lydian mode. To understand and "hear"  the lydian mode it is recommended to play these patterns by starting with the "root".

What is a root ?

Every scale has what is named "a root". This is the most important note of a scale, it gives its name to the scale. For example the root of of the F lydian scale is "F", nothing's easier. In the diagrams this is the orange note (R).

To play the F lydian mode following the first pattern and starting with the lowest root, you have to put your second finger on the sixth string at the thirteenth fret.

To play the F lydian mode using the second pattern still starting with the root, you must put your second finger on the fifth string at the eighth fret.

Once you have learnt these patterns you must play them in twelve keys by moving the root to the desired note keeping the same intervals.

Pattern 1

(roots "R" on the sixth, fourth and first string)

Lydian mode guitar diagram pattern 2

Pattern 2

(roots "R" on the fifth and third string)

Lydian mode guitar diagram pattern 1

D lydian jazz guitar lick

This jazz guitar line is built with the D lydian mode which is D, E, F#, G#, A, B, C#.

Lydian jazz guitar lick

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Last edited: 10/12/2017

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