This month Martin Goulding looks at Lydian mode. With its distinctive #4th degree it’s an airy and uplifting sound, known for its association with flight.
Martin Goulding gets your fingers flying as he navigates the Dorian mode in 5ths and 6ths.
Today we look at C Lydian, the fourth mode of G Major: C-D-E-F#-G-A-B, or 1-2-3-#4-5-6-7. A common scale choice for improvising over major 7 chords, Lydian mode is characterised by its #4th (in C that’s F#), which differentiates it from the Major scale (or Ionian mode) which contains the perfect 4th degree.
We’ll arrange the Lydian mode as two ‘master exercises’ in positions 1 and 4, with the chord, scale, arpeggio and intervallic pattern all incorporated into a single exercise for maximum efficiency. We’ll be playing through the scale firstly in 3rds and then in 4ths, with strict alternate picking throughout. If these exercises prove challenging, break each example down four notes at a time and work on memorising each ‘fragment’ before moving on. Pay particular attention to the recommended fingerings as well as the direction of the pick strokes, which form the momentum of the technique. As with all exercises, shake out the hands and arms as soon as you feel any tension or fatigue.
In the third example, we’ll work on developing our recognition of the strongest intervals in Lydian mode. These are the chord tones, or notes of the maj7 arpeggio (R-3-5-7). We’ll do this by surrounding or ‘enclosing’ each consecutive chord tone using a ‘lower neighbour tone’ - this is a scale note lower than the target chord tone - followed by an ‘upper neighbour tone’ - a note played one scale degree higher. This will provide us with a visual map of the key intervals from which we can start and resolve our melodies when improvising, as well as forming the basis of a new melodic vocabulary.
To develop a clean technique for patterns that require the use of fretting-hand barring and rolling for playing adjacent notes across two strings, you’ll need to adopt a ‘square and dropped’ hand position with the thumb positioned in the middle of the back of the neck, and with plenty of space between the underside of the neck and the ‘cup’ of the hand. With the hand position square, you’ll be able to stretch out and position your fingers for greater accuracy, with the first finger set to mute the lower adaject string with its tip, as well as resting flat over any treble strings underneath. With the picking hand muting any unattended lower strings, the notes should sound clear and even in velocity.
NEXT MONTH Martin looks at more fretboard navigation, introducing Mixolydian mode
Joe Satriani uses Lydian mode in tracks like Flying In A Blue Dream
Brought to you by...