Have you ever encountered the Lydian mode or the Lydian scale in music? If so, you might be curious about how it works. In this guide, you will discover everything you need to know about it, including interval patterns, scale degrees, and more.
What is a Lydian Scale?
It is a type of major scale that creates a unique and bright sound thanks to its raised fourth note. Most people refer to it as Lydian mode because, essentially, it’s the 4th mode of the major scale.
The Lydian scale is distinctive from other modal scales due to its raised fourth note. The Ionian, Dorian, Mixolydian, Phrygian, and Aeolian modes feature a natural fourth note. However, the Locrian mode has a lowered fifth note.
Fun Fact: While most musicians use the Lydian mode in jazz and fusion music, it suits any genre. You can even incorporate the Lydian dominant scale, the fourth mode of the melodic minor scale, which has a flat seventh degree for a more dominant sound.
What Notes Are in Lydian Scale?
The notes available in the Lydian mode depend on the root note or the scale’s starting note. For instance, if you start the Lydian mode on note C, the available notes in the scale would be:
C - D - E - F# - G - A - B
On the other hand, if you start the Lydian mode on note G, the available notes in the scale would be:
G - A - B - C# - D - E - F#
Tip: If you play guitar, you can explore the Lydian scale on the fretboard by starting on the root note and following the sequence of intervals. The essential thing to remember is that you should raise the fourth degree by a half step to give it a distinctively bright quality.
What Are the Lydian Mode Scale Degrees?
The Lydian mode consists of seven scale degrees, with the raised fourth degree being the defining characteristic that gives it a distinct sound. All the other scale degrees are similar to those in the major scale.
Root or Tonic
In the Lydian mode, the root note is the scale’s starting note, but it can be any note within the scale. For instance, in C Major (C D E F G A B), the root is C.
It is a whole step above the root note and helps establish the mode’s tonality.
This scale degree is two steps above the root note and has a major interval. It is an essential note for defining the mode’s major tonality.
Augmented Fourth (Raised fourth)
Raising the fourth scale degree in the Lydian mode by a half step gives it an augmented interval. As mentioned earlier, this is what gives the mode its distinct sound.
The fifth scale degree is a whole step and a half above the root note and has a perfect interval. It defines the mode’s harmonic structure.
This scale degree is two and a half steps above the root note and has a major interval. It establishes the mode’s mood and melodic character.
It is three and a half steps above the root note and has a major interval. It resolves the mode back to the tonic note and defines its major tonality.
What Is the Scale or Mode Formula for the Lydian?
A set of intervals between notes represents the Lydian mode. It includes whole steps (W), half steps (H), whole tones (T), and semitones (S).
- Whole step is the distance between two adjacent notes on the scale that are two or half steps apart.
- Half step is the distance between two adjacent notes that are only one-half step apart.
- Whole tone is the distance equivalent to two half steps.
- Semitone is half of a whole tone and equal to one-half step.
The formula for the Lydian mode consists of the sequence of intervals:
Whole, Whole, Whole, Half, Whole, Whole, Half (W-W-W-H-W-W-H)
Whole Tones, Whole Tones, Whole Tones, Semitones, Whole Tones, Whole Tones, Semitone (T-T-T-S-T-T-S)
As mentioned earlier, you can play the Lydian mode by starting on any note and following the sequence of intervals indicated by the formula.
What’s the Lydian Mode Interval Pattern?
The Whole, Whole, Whole, Half, Whole, Whole, Half (W-W-W-H-W-W-H) is the internal pattern of the Lydian scale, which indicates the distance between each mode’s note.
You can also use T-T-T-S-T-T-S or 2-2-2-1-2-2-1 described above.
For instance, to play the Lydian mode starting on note C, you would play the notes C, D, E, F#, G, A, and B, following the interval pattern of 2-2-2-1-2-2-1.
What Songs Use the Lydian Mode?
Several musical genres like jazz, rock, folk, and classical have used the Lydian mode. Here are examples of songs that utilize the Lydian mode:
- The Simpsons Opening Credits and Theme Song
- Ocean by Pearl Jam
- Blue Jay Way by The Beatles
- Lucky Man by Emerson, Lake, and Plamer
- New York State of Mind by Billy Joel
- The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Genesis
- Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin
- One Slip by Pink Floyd
Whether as a chord progression or a soothing melody, the Lydian mode’s raised 4th note adds a different mood to music. Plus, you can start with any root note, just remember to raise the 4th note!