The Lydian Mode: Fun and Easy GUIDE

Welcome to your complete beginner guide to the Lydian Mode.

My favourite mode of the Major Scale is the lydian mode. The lydian mode is awesome because it is distinctly colourful and lush. The magical thing about the Lydian Mode is that none of its notes are dissonant – its easy to use! Spend some time exploring how the different notes of this mode sound played over a maj7 chord. Jazz is about teasing the listener with levels of consonance and dissonance in your lines. The lydian mode is great for this, enjoy.

Use this lesson to:

  • Learn basic modal theory.
  • Tune your ears to this mode’s unique sound.
  • Know how to improvise with it musically.
  • Have fun while you learn!

 Lydian Mode Example

lydian mode
Can you see how F lydian has the same notes as C major scale?

Visual Lydian Example

lydian mode
If you play all the white notes on a piano from F to F you play F lydian scale.

Real Life Example

IV IVm
In this example Fmaj7 is the IV chord in the key of C major. You can play F Lydian over this F maj7 chord.

Fingering

I recommend you start off by learning the lydian mode on the guitar in these two positions. A white circle means that note is the root note of the scale. Numbers indicate what finger to use (1: first finger, 2: second finger, etc). You can easily move this diagram up or down frets.

lydian mode lydian mode

How to HEAR the Lydian Mode

To start off with, you can think of F lydian = C major scale. But to really HEAR the unique sound of a lydian mode you need appreciate the lydian scale as its own entity.

Try this:

  • Forget about C major.
  • Think of F lydian as the F major scale but having a raised 4th (#11).
  • Play a Fmaj7 chord and play through the scale slowly.
  • Accustom your ears to the sound of the #11.
  • Try this with all your modes, think of each mode as its own unique scale.

To sum up, modes are easy to learn because they share the same notes. But to get your ears around them, think of each mode as a unique scale and key centre. I remember modes being confusing to me when I started out, let me know in the comment section below if this trick works for you!

When to Use the Lydian Mode

  • maj7 #11 chords.
  • any maj7 (for a modern, lush sound).

How to Use the Lydian Mode

Over a maj7 chord, your inside sounding notes are 1 3 5 7. To add some ‘jazz’ simply emphasize 9, #11 13. The #11 is the best thing about this scale. Spend some time getting to know the sound of the #11 note over a standard maj7 chord.

Lydian Mode Summary

ScaleLydian Mode
ChordMaj7#11, Maj9#11, Maj13#11
NotesR, 2, 3, #4, 5, 6, 7
C LydianC, D, E, F#, G, A, B
Chord/ Guide Tones3rd and major7th
Color Tones9th, 13th, #11
Avoid NotesNone
Sam's TipLydian is the sophisticated version on the major scale; focus on the #11 note - it is a great sound to have in your toolbox.

You are doing great! See why this is my favorite mode of the major scale? To really get your fingers and ears around the Lydian Mode, I recommend you immediately check out, ‘How to Practice Jazz Guitar Scales‘.

Related Lessons

Free Major Scale Mode Lessons

  1. Ionian
  2. Dorian
  3. Phryigian
  4. Lydian
  5. Mixolydian
  6. Aeolian
  7. Locrian

Thanks for checking out this lesson, please feel free to leave a comment below with any suggestions or questions.

~ Sam Blakelock | pickupjazz.com

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