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Question about the Lydian mode
#3046055 05/27/20 03:09 AM
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I was listening to Winger's "Headed For a Heartbreak" on YouTube today, and I remembered reading somewhere how the song was written in the Lydian mode. Since I never studied music theory, my knowledge is sadly limited, so I went to Scalerator.com to decipher this mysterious mode. I quickly noticed that D major Lydian mode is the same thing as A major. So my question is, how do you determine whether you're writing/playing in the Lydian mode of one key, or just in a different key?


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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
Sharkman #3046070 05/27/20 05:56 AM
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It's also the same as E Mixolydian, B Dorian, etc. The scale is determined by the underlying chord. If you play that set of notes over a D, it's Lydian. If you play the same notes over F# it's Aeolian. It all relates to the root or tonic.


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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
Sharkman #3046086 05/27/20 09:43 AM
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The Lydian mode is built from the fourth note of a major scale, from A to D is a perfect fourth.
if there is a key change, it changes the relationship of the scale notes to the key.


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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
skipclone 1 #3046131 05/27/20 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by skipclone 1
The Lydian mode is built from the fourth note of a major scale, from A to D is a perfect fourth.
if there is a key change, it changes the relationship of the scale notes to the key.

That is the correct way to find the notes of any of the modes, but my brain just has to relate any scale to its key orientation. So for me, Lydian is simply the major scale, with a raised 4th, regardless of the key I'm in. It's the perfect excuse to use the #11 chord voicing.


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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
Sharkman #3046136 05/27/20 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Sharkman
I was listening to Winger's "Headed For a Heartbreak" on YouTube today, and I remembered reading somewhere how the song was written in the Lydian mode. Since I never studied music theory, my knowledge is sadly limited, so I went to Scalerator.com to decipher this mysterious mode. I quickly noticed that D major Lydian mode is the same thing as A major. So my question is, how do you determine whether you're writing/playing in the Lydian mode of one key, or just in a different key?

Thanks for posting the Scalerator.com site Sharkman! It is an excellent site and learning tool. You determine whether you are writing/playing in the Lydian mode. 1st thing to do is find that song you want to play Headed for a Heartbreak. Sing along and find the original key and determine if it's too high for your vocal or too low. Let's say the original is in C but you like it in A. And you also want to keep it original using the Lydian mode. Go to that site and in the 1st drop down pick the note A from the chromatic offerings. in the next square over drop down pick Lydian. Call up the scale chart and have it in front of you. Notice the red dots with the A in them form a pattern of octaves. Each of them are the root tone/tonic notes which defines the key you want to play in. In order to orient yourself, find the A's on the 1st and 6th strings and make this your tonal key 1st position center point of reference (i.e. 5th fret). The 1st position of the A Lydian scale will be found there. This is true for any mode you wish to play in. The notes below show the tab and the sheet music scale notes that you will be using for the melody and/or for improvisation if you are a writer. Don't worry about the other keys or modes for now as there are many. Every key has a relative major and minor (of which there are many 12 x 2 for instance). Put your song on YouTube and play along with the chart in front of you. You can choose the original key note A and then pick the correct chart like Lydian. You don't have to change keys and will hear a lot of notes that will work for you. There are always accidentals and other notes that get thrown in but most of the ones on the chart will get you in the ball park.

That's how I do it to start with... cool

Last edited by Larryz; 05/27/20 06:10 PM.

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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
Scott Fraser #3046218 05/28/20 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Scott Fraser
Originally Posted by skipclone 1
The Lydian mode is built from the fourth note of a major scale, from A to D is a perfect fourth.
if there is a key change, it changes the relationship of the scale notes to the key.

That is the correct way to find the notes of any of the modes, but my brain just has to relate any scale to its key orientation. So for me, Lydian is simply the major scale, with a raised 4th, regardless of the key I'm in. It's the perfect excuse to use the #11 chord voicing.

Well no less a person than shred king Vinnie Moore, mentioned a good shortcut thinking-wise. He said, you're ALWAYS playing a major scale, no matter where you are on the fretboard.
You're just starting it in a different place. It's maybe a bit easier than trying to memorize augmented or diminished tones.


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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
skipclone 1 #3046229 05/28/20 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by skipclone 1
Well no less a person than shred king Vinnie Moore, mentioned a good shortcut thinking-wise. He said, you're ALWAYS playing a major scale, no matter where you are on the fretboard.
You're just starting it in a different place.

+1 If you know the major scale mode and how to shift it, you know all of the 7 modes. thu


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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
skipclone 1 #3046261 05/28/20 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by skipclone 1
Well no less a person than shred king Vinnie Moore, mentioned a good shortcut thinking-wise. He said, you're ALWAYS playing a major scale, no matter where you are on the fretboard.
You're just starting it in a different place. It's maybe a bit easier than trying to memorize augmented or diminished tones.

There are benefits and shortcomings to adhering to any scale or pattern. Changes in the song can lead you astray quickly.

As a simple example, my band plays a song with an Em but there is a descending motif in the chords - D Db C B.

You can play in Em and leave out both the Db and the C but that doesn't address the potential inflections avaialble. You can only add a Db here and there or only add a C here and there. Or you can assert yourself over your predicament and use Db and C when appropriate.

There are no Modes that have a group of 4 chromatic notes.

Switch brushes, change colors!!!!


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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
Sharkman #3046262 05/28/20 05:37 PM
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While I know that is a true observation on the theory, it absolutely doesn't work for my brain to be thinking of a major scale which is not in the key nor the harmonic flavor of the context I'm actually playing in. For me, it's so much easier to just play Lydian over the chord or key of the moment than to try to transpose major to some other key, & be wondering why I'm not feeling the tonic properly. There are only 7 modes, classical modes at least, & only 5 of those are commonly used in popular music. That's not too much to memorize & be able to move all around the fretboard.


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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
Scott Fraser #3046364 05/29/20 11:12 AM
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Well guys-I think we can agree that chromatic or passing tones-they work for chords as well-are a bit outside a discussion of modes.
That said, there is a subtext to the comment 'starting it in a different place'. No one says, I have a car. it fell in the water. I'm going to drive anyway.
Transposing the major scale to a different place, doesn't mean the whole scale is going to sound great. If you know the major scale down cold-
then you know what not to play. Not playing creates space, breath-gives note choice more impact. And every note choice-every one-is someone's major scale. Extensions aren't just for hair.
Can't speak from experience there but, hopefully you know what I mean


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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
Sharkman #3046374 05/29/20 01:28 PM
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After reading all of this, I am imagining the following conversation between bandmembers:

"Guys, that sounded awful. What were you playing?"
"I was playing in the Lydian mode."
"Dude, why can't you just admit that you were playing in the wrong key?"


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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
Sharkman #3046381 05/29/20 02:31 PM
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Wrong key-sorry, not my department. Try one desk down or one desk up.


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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
skipclone 1 #3046403 05/29/20 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by skipclone 1
Well guys-I think we can agree that chromatic or passing tones-they work for chords as well-are a bit outside a discussion of modes.
That said, there is a subtext to the comment 'starting it in a different place'. No one says, I have a car. it fell in the water. I'm going to drive anyway.
Transposing the major scale to a different place, doesn't mean the whole scale is going to sound great. If you know the major scale down cold-
then you know what not to play. Not playing creates space, breath-gives note choice more impact. And every note choice-every one-is someone's major scale. Extensions aren't just for hair.
Can't speak from experience there but, hopefully you know what I mean


I'm sorry skipclone, I guess I didn't explain myself very well.
I used the chromatic motif as an example but failed to make my point.
Modes can be useful, no question of it. They are tools. So is the Octatonic scale - Tonic, half step, whole step, half step, whole step, half step, whole step, half step, whole step (octave).

Learn the modes? Sure, they may open doors to new ideas, always a good thing. My point was that we cannot expect to be able to express all songs/chord progressions using any single tool with the notable exception of your EAR. Listen, learn the structure of the song, use the tool that fits that brief and fleeing instant. Modes can be one of the tools you use. Metaphorically, sometimes we need a wrench and sometimes a screwdriver.

Now, for something completely different and possibly profoundly annoying. laugh

Historically speaking, what we now call modes were used in ancient Greece - hence the names of the modes. There is an interesting section just down the page a bit here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mode_%28music%29#Greek_modes
To be brutally honest, the tempered scale did not exist then. The fifth note on what we now call a major scale was not tempered, you could not play it correctly on a modern piano.
The ancient fifth was organic, the harmonic of the string or flute. The Laws of Physics instead of the Fudge of Convenience which now allows us to freely change keys.

The difference between the Just fifth, which is sharp when compared with the Tempered fifth, is enough to throw the circle of fifths off by about a quarter of a semi-tone, this dfference of resolution at the conclusion of the Circle of Fifths is called the "Pythagorean comma". More than anybody ever wanted to know at this link.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circle_of_fifths

Why should we care? American music has deep roots in Blues music, a derivative of musics from Africa. When you see a guitarist like Son House playing bottleneck, it is because the tempered scale of the frets on the guitar do not and cannot express the music. Nor can it be played correctly on a piano. I'll be the first to admit that it could also be that the guitar in question, due to action issues, condition of strings, inaccuracy of fret location, etc. is impossible to play as a fretted instrument so something needed to be done to overcome that obstacle. There are far too many slide players to use that same excuse for all of them though, many play slide on quality guitars well set up - Muddy Waters comes to mind. Listen closely!

Things are more "precise" now - some would say more precisely incorrect. We have marvelous solutions like this: https://www.truetemperament.com

I've attached a photo of a Strat build I made and use. The fully scalloped fretboard combined with what has become an intuitive sense of pitch derived from decades of listening is my current preferred tool. If I want to play tempered I use a very ight touch. If I want to play the beautiful "notes that are wrong", I can do it without friction.

OK, now my tiny brain hurts, just passing along some food for thought. Back to getting all modal! Cheers, Kuru

Attached Files Strat.JPG

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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
Sharkman #3046404 05/29/20 04:48 PM
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+1 You have to play in the right key. All of the 7 modes (including the Lydian) can sound very pretty under the right fingers. All of the modes will sound "awful" if you play them in the wrong key while playing with others. The 1st step is to decide which key your guys/gals wish to play in. That will be your root tone, your tonal center, key note, key, #1 interval, octave notes, etc. I like using the key of A when practicing scales as it gives me some frets below and above the 5th fret to work with. I do not use the Phrygian or Locrian modes and only use the other 5 (as Scott mentioned) as my deaf ear just won't adjust to anything but the camels are coming hoo roo hoo roo! For the most part I just use the major Ionian and minor Aeolian mode scales and combine them with the major and minor 5 Pentatonic scale positions. I do change colors as Kuru suggests and throw in a few chromatic runs and I also throw in a melody line now and then LOL! cool

Last edited by Larryz; 05/29/20 04:53 PM.

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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
Larryz #3046410 05/29/20 05:05 PM
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No worries KuruPrionz-I think-if I'm right-your intent was to say, boxes are not good unless they are
multidimensionally exploded boxes. But all boxes start with four corners.
That said, yes-there was in fact a good deal of debate about the tempered tuning system.
Most of us have never been exposed to scientifically accurate music-because it would sound terrible.
A hallowed member of this forum-not currently active-played atonal music on a glissentar.
For the average listener it's an acquired taste. It's pretty close to how scientifically accurate music would sound. I liked it.
Anyway, the way things turned out, the G note is kind of the Pluto of tempered music. It's usually the one that never quite sounds right,
like Alvin if it was 'The Six Chipmunks'- "Where's G?" it was either that, or sacrifice two other tones. G took one for the team.


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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
Sharkman #3046413 05/29/20 05:29 PM
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Yeah, Skip. I have a client who plays microtonal re-fretted guitars. He's very deeply into the math which makes certain intervals what they are. Much of it just sounds out of tune initially, but after working through a whole album or two with him, it begins to make sense. And still sounds out of tune, but in a musically acceptable way. For even temperament, my ear always tells me the major third is horribly out of tune. I think this comes from working with a string quartet for almost 30 years, where they 'fix' their thirds to be nicely just intonated. So, yeah, the G, never quite right. I'm always going a little sharp with tuning the G, unless I'm mostly working on other notes on the G string, & not playing it open.


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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
Scott Fraser #3046420 05/29/20 06:00 PM
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Sure Scott-well I think all other values equal, slightly sharp just sounds more alive, for any note.
Back in my music childhood-I was already playing live-someone commented on my tuning and said with a smile,
'Oh, the Santana E haha'. I totally got it. Neil Young-totally love you, chime in anytime. But it was right for the music.
If anything, cover bands should be more aware of that. Example-'I just heard 'All Along the Watchtower' with perfectly pitched tuning.
(It's like having rice for dinner)-30 minutes later, I need more music'.

Anyway after twenty years of life in Japan, I am fresh out of preconceptions.
The craziest crap you ever heard of, if done consistently, will eventually start to make sense.

Last edited by skipclone 1; 05/29/20 06:10 PM.

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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
Scott Fraser #3046450 05/29/20 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Scott Fraser
Yeah, Skip. I have a client who plays microtonal re-fretted guitars. He's very deeply into the math which makes certain intervals what they are. Much of it just sounds out of tune initially, but after working through a whole album or two with him, it begins to make sense. And still sounds out of tune, but in a musically acceptable way. For even temperament, my ear always tells me the major third is horribly out of tune. I think this comes from working with a string quartet for almost 30 years, where they 'fix' their thirds to be nicely just intonated. So, yeah, the G, never quite right. I'm always going a little sharp with tuning the G, unless I'm mostly working on other notes on the G string, & not playing it open.

In the genre Muddy Waters called "Deep Blues", the minor 3rd and the flatted 7th are not part of the tempered scale and the third especially is probably not even part of the Just scale.

For the flatted 7th, with my scalloped board I often start one fret lower than the flatted 7th and stretch almost to the next note but not quite. It sounds so much better to me. The minor third can cover a somewhat broader range depending on the song and the expression. The fifth gets moved a bit depending and the flatted fifth can make it's appearance sometimes.


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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
Sharkman #3046709 05/31/20 12:58 PM
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Hi guys-sorry, I had to step away. My city, and my old neighborhood, has been on fire.
I went to high school in Minneapolis. The South side was the 'nice' part of town. I can'r believe the images I've been seeing.
Several of my cousins have met or spoke with George Floyd. They said he was a sweetheart of a guy, always smiling.
This kind of horror would have been unthinkable when I was growing up. My mom says the same thing.
What has happened to my city.
Sorry for the rant.

Last edited by skipclone 1; 05/31/20 12:59 PM.

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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
skipclone 1 #3046735 05/31/20 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by skipclone 1
Hi guys-sorry, I had to step away. My city, and my old neighborhood, has been on fire.
I went to high school in Minneapolis. The South side was the 'nice' part of town. I can'r believe the images I've been seeing.
Several of my cousins have met or spoke with George Floyd. They said he was a sweetheart of a guy, always smiling.
This kind of horror would have been unthinkable when I was growing up. My mom says the same thing.
What has happened to my city.
Sorry for the rant.


Skipclone, these are truly difficult times. It is impossible to discuss here with the "no politics" rule. I wish peace for you, yours and EVERYBODY!!!


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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
KuruPrionz #3046815 06/01/20 02:31 AM
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Thanks KuruPrionz
I`m not going to press my luck on that policy, except to say that if
the issue wasn`t personal rather than political before, it damn sure is a lot more like it now.
Peace out.


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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
skipclone 1 #3046818 06/01/20 02:38 AM
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Originally Posted by skipclone 1
Thanks KuruPrionz
I`m not going to press my luck on that policy, except to say that if
the issue wasn`t personal rather than political before, it damn sure is a lot more like it now.
Peace out.

We could write songs, music heals. Plus, I bet we'd get a pass with our messages if we sang them.

I've been searching for that inspiration, it is not an easy thing to verbalize and I won't allow anything less than my best work. The situation deserves so much more!!!!

Be safe!


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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
KuruPrionz #3046852 06/01/20 06:09 AM
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It takes time to process.
Right now it would just be a lot of language I can`t say on TV and don`t teach in English class.


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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
skipclone 1 #3046854 06/01/20 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by skipclone 1
It takes time to process.
Right now it would just be a lot of language I can`t say on TV and don`t teach in English class.


I never know where or when it comes from. I've gotten up at 3am and written an entire song in 10 minutes.
I've had it take a couple of days. And, I've realized that one line or word needed changing and suddenly knew what to change after 40 years. That was a HUGE relief!!!!!

Or, I'll get a stupid idea and pursue it for not reason, I recently wrote a song that is not about anything but insinuates that it is about something. That took about a week, the most meaningless and easily re-mis-interpreted song I have ever written.

This is something heavy but I dislike "preachy" songs intensely. Navigating this will be interesting. It is an eternally relevant topic.


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Re: Question about the Lydian mode
KuruPrionz #3046858 06/01/20 07:52 AM
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Well, arguably Rage Against the Machine gets preachy. Depending on your musical tastes so does U2. But they do it with some really good music.
about that song you mentioned-hey, it worked for Phil (Susudio) Collins.

Last edited by skipclone 1; 06/01/20 12:36 PM.

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