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A way to understand & play modes - Lydian scale

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by stoob, Mar 14, 2016.

  1. stoob


    Feb 3, 2008
    Horten, Norway
    I've been playing for ages and although I have some understanding of the modes, I just had a brainwave/epiphany/discovery moment and I thought I needed to share it with the bass community. So if people are unsure with how to play Lydian for example, I just found a great way to play it in a song that everyone should try out.

    I was just playing along with a song in a certain major key and they ended the song by playing/holding the fourth chord which gives the song a dreamy feeling to end on.
    Then I realised by soloing around that I was actually playing in the lydian mode, easy.

    If you play in G major for example, end the song by finishing it on the fourth chord which is C. If you center the G scale by concentrating on the C, B and F#then you are playing the Lydian mode, the fourth mode. And I understand this is simple to a lot of people by it's been a great discovery for me.

    * Update*
    People have said here that you are not actually playing Lydian but the G major scale, but what I mean is if you concentrate on the notes that give it a Lydian "Flavour", you are playing in Lydian and can get comfortable with that way of playing a mode. :)

    Here's a video of Tony Grey explaining the Lydian mode in a G major track ending on the C7 chord:

    If you end on the D chord, you can play around the D, F# & C notes and you will be centering around the 5th note of the G major scale which is D and the 5th mode which is the Mixolydian mode. Play the G major scale on this which is using the D and Am chords of the G scale:

    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
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  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Respectfully, you are still playing in G Major in your example. Songs do not become modal Lydian compositions every time they change from the I chord to the IV chord!

    To expand the concept, if you see a progression like G-D-Emin-C, it's not G Ionian, D Mixolydian, E Aeolian, C Lydian! Rather, it's simply I-V-vi-IV in G.

    A wonderful musical exercise is to learn to sing "Do Re Mi" from The Sound of Music. You will hear that C is the 4th or "fa" in the G Major scale. "When you know the notes to sing, you can sing most anything."
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2016
  3. Sorry, you are not quite there, keep working at it. Modes are best understood when you finally get that WOW. i.e. you kinda have to figure it all out yourself. Bits and pieces from the Internet just do not tell enough of the story and brick walls keep coming up.

    The IV chord you speak of begs to move to the V or climax chord, so yes you do get a sound that wants something, but, what you described is not modal. You are still tonal and the ole I tonic chord rules. IMO what you are hearing is the IV sub-dominant chord wanting to move to a dominant V or V7 chord, which will want to move to the I tonic chord for resolution. When I finally understood tonal and modal it all clicked for me. You are getting close.

    If you use a #4 NOTE in the major scale (R-2-3-4-5-6-7) you turn the major scale into the Lydian mode of the major scale, i.e. R-2-3-#4-5-6-7.
    • Ionian is the same as the major scale R-2-3-4-5-6-7
    • Lydian is the major scale with a #4.
    • Mixolydian is the major scale with a b7.
    • Aeolian is the same as the natural minor scale. R-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7
    • Dorian is the natural minor scale with the b6 sharped into a natural 6 (R-2-b3-4-5-6-b7).
    • Phrygian is the natural minor scale with a b2 added.
    • Locrian is the natural minor scale with a b2 and a b5 added.
    • Think signature notes, not chords. Ionian is home base for all the major modes and Aeolian is home base for all the minor modes. Using those as home bases and then changing one note makes them modal. But, there is more....

    Now for the mode sound to develop you will need to be playing over a vamp chord. What is a vamp chord? A vamp chord sustains it does not move to resolution. A vamp chord drones the signature modal note ---- so the signature modal sound can develop.

    When you have a V-I cadence it will always calls attention to the tonic I chord. So all your modal work goes for naught. You need the modal vamp to drone the modal sound, in this case the #4 so you can hear Lydian's signature sound. I know that did not give you enough of the story....... I would suggest a Google on modal harmony.

    Your getting close, keep digging.

    You may have, up to now, done modes by running the scale, i.e. C Ionian then same thing but, start on the D for D dorian, same thing and this time start on the E for Phrygian. You can do it that way, I like the Major scale and change one note much better as I find this works best for me on the fly.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2016
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  4. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    Your way of thinking of modes is not off-base, but your example is not a good one. Actually that's the way I think of modes, but keep in mind that the key you're in defines the modes. So for your example, you would need to be in the key of C to play C Lydian mode (or adding #4, as Malcolm said, or F# as if you were in the key of G).
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2016
  5. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I think that such assertions just confuses things.

    you don't "need" to be in the key of C to call it C Lydian, it's not "wrong" to do so.
    In the same sense , Mushroo's assertion that its "just the Key of G" (which I basically agree with), is still not absolute.

    G major / Ionian and C Lydian are simply two different lenses through which we can view the same 7 notes.
    It ain't about correct or incorrect, it's about what lens is the appropriate for the context.

    Two of the "lenses" we can view modes through are Relative Modes and Parallel Modes
    Stoob, your eureka moment of realizing that G major Scale played to a C major chord
    produces a Lydian sound is entirely appropriate for understanding Relative Modes:
    Take the same 7 notes and emphasize a different one as the root.

    Relative Modes = same key / scale, 7 different root notes.

    What Theses other guys are trying to point you to is an understanding of Parallel Modes.

    Parallel Modes = same root note, 7 different keys /scales

    Parallel Modes are the "lens" MonetBass is getting at when he wriets "you need to be in the key C to play C Lydian."

    The main concept we are all pointing to is that Relative Modes are useful for understanding the note construction of a mode
    But Parallel modes are better for understanding and exploring usages.

    Scott Divine had an excellent Video demonstration of how to practice modes in a Parallel fashion but I can't seem to dig it up
    you can probably find it at his web site.
    Basically you pick E as your root, and play a droning open E while playing each mode rooted on E on the A string.
    This reveals the sound of each mode against its root. (as opposed to its relative root)
  6. Yes that video of Scott's has vanished. I suspect it has been folded into some of his "pay for" lessons and is no longer available as a stand alone free video. It did an excellent job of explaining how a droning "something" (the E string) is needed for the mode sound to sustain.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
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  7. stoob


    Feb 3, 2008
    Horten, Norway
    Thanks for that post Mambo. Looking back on the original post, perhaps it wrong of me to say you are playing in the Lydian mode and of course you can't play Lydian through a whole song in G major in that way, but when you finish on the fourth chord and play around with notes that give it the Lydian "flavour", you are playing Lydian.
    I saw a video that a band was playing in G and then they finished the song on the C chord, but all band members know that feeling you get when playing a nice song and when you have been focusing on a key but play around on the fourth chord at the finish of a song, gives it a mystical feel. If you center around the Lydian "flavour" then you are playing a Lydian mode, by focusing on the F# to B, C & G and back to F# for example.

    It's just a suggestion for a musicians to try play the Lydian flavours when finishing a song on the fourth chord and holding it, then they can get comfortable with that way of playing a mode.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
  8. stoob


    Feb 3, 2008
    Horten, Norway
    I do understand that and playing all the modes over a drone, but my suggestion shows a nice idea of playing a Lydian mode in a song without realising it to practice listening to modal flavours. All this "No" it's not a mode", "yes it is" just confuses players. In a certain way, when you play a scal on the 4th chord, you are playing the Lydian mode.

    If you end on the D chord, you can play around the D, F# & C notes and you will be centering around the 5th note of the G major scale which is D and the 5th mode which is the Mixolydian mode.

    This video by Troy Grey is a great video on playing the Lydian mode, the G scale on the C7, which is EXACTLY as I have been saying :) By ending on a C chord, why not C7? and playing the major scale concentrating on the 'Lydianesque' flavours which are B & F3# notes.

    Wanna play G major scale but centering around the D chord for Mixolydian? then play around with this which is using the D and Am chords of the G scale::

    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
  9. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Another way to think about this sound (without resorting to "modes") is that D, F#, and C are "chord tones" of the D7 chord, and ending a song on the V chord is called a "half cadence."

    Cadence (music) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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  10. Whousedtoplay's attached charts are excellent. Worth anyone's time.
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  11. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Who knew a G-C-G-D progression could be so complicated!
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  12. stoob


    Feb 3, 2008
    Horten, Norway
    Lol, I never meant to and don't want it to :)
  13. I've tried looking at the Lydian Chromatic Concept, but I just don't have enough time on my hands to wrap my head around it.

    So can you apply The Lydian Chromatic stuff to any song, or does it have to be built using the concept from the ground up?
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
  14. stoob


    Feb 3, 2008
    Horten, Norway
    I don't know the answer, I'm sure someone else will say something, but I'm sure for a song to be played in a mode you need to have all the chords made up of 7ths, minors, maj7 chords for example that lends themselves to the tonal centers of the mode you are playing.

    But like I said, if you have a chord that suddenly is adroning chord or holding on chord )like the end of a song for example) you can play around with the modes.
    My example is, you play in G major then the last chord you play holds at a C chord, it's a wonderful chance to play in Lydian.

    Play in G major then play around with C lydian on the C chord, here's a good track to play along with:

  15. Thanks for taking the time to write. I have a pretty solid handle on the modes of the major scale and how to use them. The Lydian Chromatic Concept is a totally different way of musical organization, not related to major scale harmony (directly).

    Basically, George Russell argues that a major scale, for example C, consists of two tetrachords that embody two tonalities, not one. But if you adapt the major scale to Lydian mode (in the key of C that would be a C major scale with F-sharp instead of F), it removes the duality of conflicting tonics, and more fully satisfies the tonality of the major chord, creating a more unified sound.

    So instead of the parent scale being Ionian as is the case of typical western harmony, the parent scale becomes Lydian, and all of the modes will be built from that scale. Ya dig?

    This is a completely different concept than you guys were discussing, so I apologize for possibly making the thread take a weird tangent...

    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
  16. Cool. I may need to have a deeper look at this.
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  17. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    To my ear, this example could very easily be part of a tonal progression in the key of G.
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  18. stoob


    Feb 3, 2008
    Horten, Norway
    That's the point and why you don't need to complicate modes if you don't want to.
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  19. Ruh roh...
  20. <snip>

    This is an important distinction that many people seem to miss when discussing modes. In the Tony Grey Video, the overall harmony doesn't sound Lydian, simply because he's playing a certain sequence of notes from the G major scale. It sound Lydian because the backing track harmony underneath is Cmaj7. If he played that exact same solo with a backing track that was played in Amin7, for example, then the harmony would sound Dorian.

    As Mambo pointed out, Modes only sound like "modes" when they are played in "isolation" in the Parallel Mode format, where you play different scales from the same root.

    When playing Relative Modes, (which is the way most people see them, in the beginning) the "modal harmony" only comes out through the harmony that sits underneath it.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2016

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