For those of you who have followed my series on guitar modes, thank you for all of the positive feedback. It’s really heart-warming to know that many readers are eager to learn, and are open to new ways of looking at, and approaching the guitar and music theory. Once again, thank you for your support.
The Lydian Mode is created or formed by raising the fourth degree of the major scale by one-half step. This creates a very bright sound. As you may or may not know, each guitar scale and/or guitar chord has it’s own color. The color ranges from dark to bright. Minor scales are darker whereas major scales are brighter. The same applies to guitar chords. It is the color of a scale or chord that evokes a desired emotion from the listener.
Since the Lydian Mode is bright in color, it will evoke a bright or light emotion from the listener. Musicians are like painters. We use color to evoke emotion.
Like all other guitar modes, there are certain, specific, and essential elements necessary in order to fully establish and effectively utilize the Lydian Mode.
First, the tonic or root note of the Lydian Mode must be established. In other words, if one is to establish the “F” Lydian Mode, the the “F” note must be used. It is the tonic note, or tonal center.
Secondly, the major third scale step must be used. It is the major third scale step that creates the bright major sound.
Last, but not least, the raised fourth degree of the Lydian Mode must be used. This is an essential element (characteristic) of the Lydian Mode. Don’t leave home without it.
There are also essential chord characteristics (elements) that must also be established in order to play true Lydian chord progressions. Unlike previous modes that we have discussed in previous articles, there are some very important general rules that must be followed when utilizing the Lydian Mode and Lydian chord progressions.
First, the #IV dim. chord should always be excluded from the Lydian progression. For example, for the “F” Lydian tonality, one should avoid the B dim. triad (#IV dim.). Also, the V7 is not available in or for an authentic Lydian progression.
The I MA chord (the Tonic chord), must always be established and one of the other strong characteristic Lydian chords should always be utilized (II MA or VII mi.).
The strongest Lydian chord progression is the I Ma progressing to the V Ma, then progressing back to the tonic I Ma.
Therefore, the best and strongest Lydian progressions are as follows and are applicable to the “C” Lydian tonality:
1). I Ma-C, II MA-D, I Ma-C.
2). I Ma-C, VI mi-A mi, II Ma-D, I Ma-C.
3). I Ma-C, III mi-E mi, II Ma-D, I Ma-C.
4). I Ma-C, VI mi-A mi, VII- B mi, I Ma-C.
The preceding examples of Lydian chord progressions are very strong Lydian chords and deliver the best results when thinking in terms of strict Lydian application.
The reader will notice that, once again, triads are used in all of my examples regarding modal chord progressions. This is for very good reason. Triads are basic chords which contain the essential elements for each mode (see previous articles on modes). Extended chords have a tendency to conflict with strict modal application. It’s best to use triads. This way, any extended modal scale tones will act, in essence, as passing tones, and will cause less conflict in a strict modal application.
Can one use extended chords in a strict modal application? Yes and no. We’ve already discussed the best applications as dictated and expected by the so-called strict theorists. However, music is a system of sound. When it comes to sound, almost anything is fair game these days. It’s all about you, the listener, and the color of music. What portrait are you attempting paint? What do you want to convey to the listener? These are questions that only you can answer. Whatever your answer, play and create wisely. Remember, it’s not in your best interest to confuse your audience. Keep things simple.
Be sure to view previous articles regarding different modes and applications. I’m sure that you’ll find value in those writings. Until next time.
©2008 Michael E. Fletcher. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.