The Lydian Mode Back to Modes

The Lydian mode originates from the 4th degree of the major scale eg: F to F in C major. Its scale degrees are R 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7 making it a major scale with a character note of a sharpened 4th. Lydian mode harmonic progressions can often sound magical and dreamlike, and when this mode is used for soloing in a rock or metal song, it sounds very sophisticated eg. Satriani’s “Flying in a Blue Dream”. Another example of the Lydian sound can be heard in the opening few bars of “Wake up” by Rage Against the Machine where a G# is bent up to an A and back to G# repeatedly over a D pedal.  The G# is the sharpened 4th capturing the essence of D Lydian and a vibe of intrigue and adventure!

Using the key of A Lydian (A B C# D# E F# G#), we will now link this mode to how we play the 5 positions of the A major pentatonic scale (A B C# E F#). The notes of the major pentatonic scale exist inside the lydian Mode and it can be helpful to see this clearly so firstly learn to play the 5 pentatonic shapes below. The ‘A’ root notes are black and other scale degrees are red with the scale degree number inside them. Fret numbers are indicated to the left of each diagram. Next, ‘pin’ the Lydian scale patterns onto the pentatonic ones and practice them one by one.

5 Positions of A Lydian:

5 positions of A major Pentatonic:


Next are 5 phrases in various styles to demonstrate what can be done in each of these scale positions.

Phrase 1 uses scale shape 1 and so on.

Complete backing track:

         Ionian        Dorian        Phrygian        Lydian        Mixolydian         Aeolian        Locrian

All material ©2011 Bridget Mermikides

Modes for Guitarists by Bridget Mermikides