The Lydian Scale | Guitar Lesson with Diagrams

What's the Lydian mode?

The Lydian mode is the fourth mode of the major scale. It is similar to the Ionian mode, but has a raised fourth (#4) instead of a perfect fourth. It gets interesting when played over a major chord, for example playing a F lydian over a FM7 brings a little bit of tension because of the raised fourth / raised eleventh (#4 - #11).


What's The Lydian Mode Interval Pattern?

As shown in the table below, the interval pattern for the Lydian scale is 1 (tonic) - 2 (second) - 3 (major third) - #4 (augmented fourth) - 5 (perfect fifth) - 6 (sixth) - 7 (seventh).

F Lydian mode F G A B C D E
Formula 1 2 (9) 3 #4 (#11) 5 6 (13) 7
Intervals W W W H W W H

(W = whole step ; H = half step)

Comparison With Other Lydian Modes

It can be helpful to compare the Lydian scale with the five other Lydian modes taken from the harmonic minor, harmonic major and melodic minor scales.

  • The Lydian#2 mode is built on the sixth degree of the harmonic minor scale.
  • The Lydian diminished (aka Lydian b3) is built on the fourth step of the harmonic major scale.
  • The Lydian augmented #2 is built on the sixth degree of the harmonic major scale.
  • The Lydian augmented is the third mode of the melodic minor scale.
  • The Lydian dominant is the fourth mode of the melodic minor scale.
Lydian 1 2 (9) 3 #4 (#11) 5 6 (13) 7
Lydian #2 1 #2 (#9) 3 #4 (#11) 5 6 (13) 7
Lydian diminished 1 2 (9) b3 #4 (#11) 5 6 (13) 7
Lydian augmented #2 1 #2 (#9) 3 #4 (#11) #5 6 (13) 7
Lydian augmented 1 2 (9) 3 #4 (#11) #5 6 (13) 7
Lydian dominant 1 2 (9) 3 #4 (#11) 5 6 (13) b7


Comparison between lydian modes on guitar 1
Lydian mode 4th mode of the major scale

Harmonization And Analysis Of The Lydian Mode

When stacking thirds on each step of the Lydian mode we get the following types triads and seventh chords. As shown in the chart and the cheat sheet, each chord type corresponds to a Roman numeral.


C Lydian C D E F# G A B
Intervals 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7
Roman Numeral Analysis I II iii iv° V vi vii
Triads Major Major Minor Diminished Major Minor Minor
Seventh Chords Maj7 Dom7 min7 min7b5 Maj7 min7 min7


How To Play The Lydian Scale On Guitar?

Lydian Mode One Octave Shapes

Here are four guitar shapes to play the Lydian mode. The first shape has tonic on the 6th and 4th string. The second shape has tonic on the 5th and 3rd string. The third shape has tonic on the 4th and 2nd string. The fourth shape has tonic on the 3rd and 1st string.

To understand and "hear" the lydian mode it is recommended to play these patterns starting with the tonic (1), the orange note in the diagrams.

Lydian mode one octave shapes guitar

Lydian Two Octave Shapes

These two shapes show how you can play the Lydian mode in position whithin the space of two octaves.

Lydian Mode and Major triad Chord - Audio file

Lydian mode two octave shapes guitar

Lydian Mode | 7 Notes Per String

Here are seven Lydian shapes starting on each degree of the scale. Once you have learned all these shapes be sure to play them in twelve keys by moving the tonic to the desired note keeping the same intervals.


Lydian mode guitar shapes

Lydian Mode Harmonisation & Arpeggios

The Lydian mode harmonized in thirds gives the following chords and arpeggios. One effective way to practice scales is to associate them with their related chords. You can play the Lydian mode over these chords.

Degrees I II iii iv V vi vii
Triads Maj Maj min dim Maj min min
Tetrads Maj7 7 m7 m7b5 Maj7 min7 min7
Extensions 9,#11,13 9,11,13 9,11,b13 b9,11,b13 9,11,13 9,11,13 b9,11,b13
Lydian mode harmonized in arpeggios

Lydian Mode Jazz Guitar Backing Track With Scale Diagram

Lydian Scale Guitar Chords

The Lydian scale can be applied to a number of chord types, the most obvious are : maj6#11, maj7#11 and maj9#11. However, you can use the Lydian mode over over non-altered chords as maj7, maj6, maj9, simply to add tension to your lines.

Look at the diagrams below and try to associate them with the Lydian shapes previously seen.

Non altered chords for lydian scale
Lydian guitar chords

Lydian Mode and Minor Pentatonic Scale

When playing a minor pentatonic scale (1 - b3 - 4 - 5 - b7) starting from the major seventh (7) of a maj7#11 chord you emphasize the important chord tones that are the seventh (7) and the third (3) as well as the upper-structure (9, #11 and 13). 

Over an Fmaj7#11 chord, just take the seventh degree (E) and play a minor pentatonic scale (E - G - A - B - D) as shown in the first phrase below.

Fmaj7#11 F G A B C D E
Intervals 1 2 (9) 3 #4 (#11) 5 6 (13) 7
E min penta. E G A B X D X
Intervals 1 b3 4 5 X b7 X
Emin against Fmaj7#11 7 (2)9 3 #4 (#11) X 6 (13) X
Lydian mode and minor pentatonic scale

Lydian Lick #1 - Minor Pentatonic Scale

Here is Fmaj#11 line. You see an E minor pentatonic scale on the first two bars.

Lydian lick guitar

Lydian Lick #2 - Intervals of Sixths

This F Lydian lick contains thee intervals of sixths ; C - A ; B - G and A - F. Trying to play intervals from the Lydian mode can bring interesting ideas into your major lines.

Lydian lick 2

Lydian Lick #3 - Minor Blues Scale

Another idea of Lydian lick is to add a chromatic passing tone, a flatted fifth, between the fourth and the fifth of the minor pentatonic scale, thus giving an E minor blues scale.

This way you will set a short chromatic line (A-Bb-B) to approach the #11 of Fmaj7.

Lydian jazz line

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Last edited: 2023-11-04

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