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Lydian Dominant Notation

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Lithius, Jun 12, 2011.

  1. Lithius


    Dec 20, 2009
    Howdy guys,

    My question is about how lydian dominant should written as a
    key signature. I'm writing a song completely in B lydian dom.
    Should it written as lydian with a flat 7th or mixolydian with a
    sharp 4th? or maybe something else? Your help would be much appreciated :D
  2. onda'bass

    onda'bass Supporting Member

    Sep 5, 2010
    Buffalo Ny
    It is a IV chord in jazz minor, but there is no key signature for it. So Uses accidentals or write in an open key.
  3. Beginner Bass

    Beginner Bass

    Jul 8, 2009
    Round Rock, TX
    A&R, Soulless Corporation Records
    Since it's a dominant flavor, I would say B mixolydian/E Major. In my mind, the primary flavor in such is one of B7 with a raised 11th, not BMaj7(#11) with a minor 7th. But I would suggest accidentals, NOT a key with E# and A natural, as a performer might be quite confused by this. Many might count the #'s or b's, and would see B Major (5#'s), which, of course, would not be right at all.
  4. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Your question is between theory and practice. Parts that go to the performers should always be as clear as possible. That is, use the key signature that is closest to the collection of notes you use and fill in the rest with accidentals. Inventing or using non-standard notation, while sometimes necessary, always adds to confusion for the performer and an additional need for rehearsal time.
  5. Soreinsun


    Oct 22, 2010
    I don't know about everyone else, but I'm very used to playing lowered 7th scale degrees. Almost habitually in certain genres! I recommend using the Mixolydian Key and using an accidental for the raised 4th. This will bring attention to the raised fourth every time and give the player a heads up of the resolution tendencies of both the lowered 7th and raised 4th. Cool scale to use, by the way.
  6. pig


    Jul 18, 2009
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    It should be written in C using accidentals, it'd be mixo #4.
  7. Jeffrey Wash

    Jeffrey Wash Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2011
    Santa Cruz
    This makes sense to me ^
  8. Whoa, wars have been fought over what I am about to say.

    First, what is a mode. It's a mood of a major scale. Mixolydian and Lydian are moods of a major scale. OK what major scale are they a mood of? Any one you like.

    Scale degrees:
    1, 2, 3,.. 4, 5, 6,. 7 is the major scale.
    1, 2, 3, #4, 5, 6,. 7 is the Lydian mood of the major scale.
    1, 2, 3,...4, 5, 6,.b7 is the Mixolydian mood of the major scale.

    The Lydian dominant mode will have both a #4 and a b7. But, it is still just a mood of a major scale.

    Which major scale. Any one you want. The one you chose is what decides the key signature. Key signatures show what major and/or minor scale/key the song is to be played in. Not what mode is to be used to play the song. That is dictated by the notes used. Yes you will go out of scale to get the mood you are looking for - you sharp the 4th for Lydian and you flat the 7th for Mixolydian. For Lydian dominant you will use both the #4 and the b7.

    If you want to use Dorian you just moved from the major scale to the natural minor scale. How would this affect the key signature? I don't need an answer, you hash it out....

    Natural minor scale 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7.
    Dorian takes the natural minor scale and sharps the b6.
    Phrygian takes the natural minor scale and flats the 2.
    Locrian takes the natural minor scale and flats 2 and the 5

    If you are still using:
    Ionian = C, D, E, F, G, A, B
    Dorian = ...D, E, F, G, A, B C
    Phrygian =.....E, F, G, A, B, C, D
    That's relative modes; easy to teach thus what most of us were taught. Easy to teach, hard to use. Parallel modes are much easier to use in a song. Parallel modes are; want Phrygian, use the natural minor scale and flat the 2, if you want Dorian use the natural minor scale and sharp the b6 back to a natural 6.

    Good luck and have fun.
  9. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Apr 22, 2011
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    Since you say that your song is entirly in B7(#11) I would use the B Major key signature. That way you will emphasize the b7 and #4(#11) on the chart making it easy to read and understanding the alterations.

    For me it is best to use either the major or minor key signatures for reading and understanding the tonal center. Even major blues songs are written in major key even if the first chord has a dominant flavor.
  10. Hoover

    Hoover Banned

    Nov 2, 2007
    New York City
    It's almost a trick question. Because "key signatures" are used to indicate what "key" a piece of music is in (or starts in), and "B Lydian Dominant" isn't a "key" at all, it's a mode, aka an unordered pitch collection.

    Therefore, imo the most efficient, effective, and obvious way to indicate the modal collection your piece uses to the musicians who have to read/play it -- in addition to the aforementioned suggestions to use the key signature of the most closely related major scale plus accidentals to account for the necessary deviations -- would be to write a big bold parenthetical "(B Lydian Dominant)" right at the start of the piece, above the first bar.

    iow, Be as unambiguous and unequivocal as possible. Just tell them.
  11. teleharmonium


    Dec 2, 2003
    When the home scale for the piece is not diatonic, it would be very confusing to indicate the key as meaning anything other than the tonal center. It does not help to imply a diatonic tonality by notating it as if it were an altered lydian of some other key, when that other key is never going to function as the tonic. That just adds confusion for no real benefit (other than a few less accidentals).

    I would notate it in B using accidentals for the 4 and 7.
  12. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    No, a mode is not a mood of the major scale. Modes are separate scales that relate to the major scale.

    No, lydian dominant is a mode of the melodic minor (acending) scale. Sometimes called "jazz minor."

    More confusion is spread about teaching modes than any other concept. Teaching modes as "a major scale played from X to X" does not teach modes. It explains how modes are constructed, and that's all.
  13. teleharmonium


    Dec 2, 2003
    What do you mean by mood ?
  14. buddyro57

    buddyro57 me and PJ (living with the angels now)

    Apr 14, 2006
    Cedar Falls Iowa
    Hmm well, maybe but quite-far removed. I think of lydian dominant as the 4th mode of melodic minor:
    Given G as root, starting from the 4th degree produces
    C D E F# G A Bb

    Since Melodic minor is a variant of Dorian (or Aeolian), I guess one could think of it Lydian Dominant as a synthetic mode ( it is also referred to as Acoustic Scale by Slonimsky) and used quite often by Bartok, Scriabin, and others.

    As for a key signature, I would have to see the melody written out. Then I would choose the most conventional key to facilitate easy and accurate reading, then supplying additional accidentals where needed. I would not fashion a non-standard key signature (though some have), it just causes questions.
  15. Each mode has a mood. A specific sound. In our music we normally let the vocalist set the mood. If you are going to play an instrumental solo - lead break - you should maintain the mood the vocalist has set. Problem with this is the modal mood needs a modal vamp for the modal mood to develop. The normal chord progression calls attention to the tonal center of the progression. A modal vamp sustains the characteristic mood of the mode you are using IF the vamp contains the right chords. Normally no more than two. One being the tonic chord and one having the characteristic note of the mode.

    Ionian is the major scale. Kinda hard getting a modal mood from the major scale as it is THE MAJOR Scale. The major scale is said to give an attractive up beat happy sound. If you want that forget about a mode and just use the major scale.

    Lydian is a major mode and gives a day dreamy mood. The #4 is it's characteristic note.

    Mixolydian is a major mode and gives a Latin or Blues mood. Depending on the number of dominant sevenths used. It's characteristic note is the b7.

    Aeolian is the natural scale and it like the major scale has a specific sound. It is said to have a sad sound. I hear startled more than sad. It is the home bass for all the other minor modes. It's characteristic note is the b6.

    Dorian is a minor mode and gives an attractive jazz mood. it's characteristic note is the natural 6.

    Phrygian is a minor mode and gives an exotic sound or mood. Where I hear Mexican with the Mixolydian mode I hear Spanish or middle Eastern with the Phrygian mode. It's characteristic note is the b2.

    Locrian is the diminished mode. As such it to is minor using the b2 and b5 in it's makeup. It gives a tense and dark mood. It's modal vamp is best done with just one chord, the m7b5 1/2 diminished chord droning in the background.

    Each mode has a mood, IF you play the right chords under the modal notes. Remember a chord progression calls attention to the tonal center of the progression and a modal vamp calls attention to the characteristic note of the mode. The droning characteristic note sustains the mood.

    Question. How many moods will a song have? Probably one. Your vocalist can set that mood for you. If you will be playing an instrumental solo lead break pick the mode that will sustain the mood set by the vocalist and ask the guys to change from the chord progression they used for the vocalist to a modal vamp for your solo. Yep, something to think about.

    Good luck with that.
  16. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    There is so much wrong with the above post I don't know where to start.

    Please do not interpret it as a discussion of music theory.
  17. HaVIC5


    Aug 22, 2003
    Brooklyn, NYC
    Very true, every single last point you make.

    Just to add, there are a lot more moods than that, like the moods of the melodic minor, harmonic minor and harmonic major scales. In fact, you can combine moods in a specific musical equation wherein S is the parent scale degree the first mood begins on, D is the second mood's parent scale's number of consecutive half step intervals, Σ is the Schillinger Expansion of the first modal mood, G is the number of voices in counterpoint within the synthesis of the two moods, and Z is the length of the composition in divisions of an hour (rounded to the nearest tenth).

    (3S^G) + (4Z/(G+7Σ))

    This way you can combine them to get bigger and more powerful moods. Eventually you want to catch them all and become pokemood master.

    Anyway, just curious, in your opinion, what is the best mood for metal?
  18. teleharmonium


    Dec 2, 2003
    OK, well, we all have subjective ways of thinking about sounds, and that's fine, but those sorts of things are not factual statements. Beyond that, I think it's absurd to view lydian and mixolydian as any sort of derivative or variant of a major scale.

    Music is defined by sounds and we then describe the sounds with words and theoretical constructs. It doesn't go back the other way; when our constructs have commonalities, this does not change the sounds. Each unique scale has a unique sound and because of that, at the most they can be subjectively compared to other scales, or described in sections based on the commonalities.

    This reminds me of the show Iron Chef, when the panel will sample picked crab brains or something like that, and describe the taste as "nostalgic".
  19. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Given no other info about the music, for B lydian dominant I'd just pick a key sig of B lydian (F# major) or B mixolydian (E major). But it really will depend on the chords and melody...In practice, I'd most likely go by the main cadences in the chord progression and let accidentals fall where they may.
  20. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    thank you jon and adam for making this thread entertaining

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