I could not have been more wrong. As time rolls along, I realize I don’t really know much at all. Every now and again a scale name pops up and I think to myself, “Where did that come from?”
So I’m about to take the mystery out of one of those scales for you. Guitarists, allow me to introduce, the Lydian Dominant scale.
When I teach scales to my students, I always show them several ways of getting the scale and I’d like to take you through that process, as well. So, first, let’s go through just the intervals to get started.
I’m going to start on F and jump a whole step (two frets) to G, two more frets to A, two more frets to B, one fret to C, two frets to D, one fret to Eb and two more frets back to F.
Of course, we can play that across the neck, too, but it’s easier to see on one string.
If we look a standard F Lydian scale, we have the notes F-G-A-B-C-D-E-F. So, to get to the Lydian Dominant from a Lydian, we flat the seventh (E) of the Lydian scale. Easy enough.
From an F Mixolydian (F-G-A-Bb-C-D-Eb-F) we sharp the fourth (Bb).
To get to a Lydian Dominant from either the Lydian or Mixolydian, we just have to move one note. There is an easier way to find the Lydian Dominant, though.
Since you’re a raving fan of GuitarScalesCharts.com, I’m going to assume that you are familiar with the concept of Modes and Minor scales.
We can create a C Melodic Minor scale by either taking a C Major scale and flatting the third (C-D-Eb-F-G-A-B-C) or taking a C Minor and raising the sixth and seventh notes.
What does C Melodic Minor have to do with anything? Take a look at the notes of the F Lydian Dominant again and compare them to the C Melodic Minor. Same notes.
Basically, the F Lydian Dominant is a Mode of C Melodic Minor.
“Awesome!” you say. “Now how do I use it?”
There are 2 ways that I use and abuse scales. First, I use new scales that I learn to create new and unique chord progressions. That drill goes something like this:
Lay the notes of the scale out over two full octaves:
Start creating chords by combining every other note. To keep things simple, I’ll stick with three-note chords:
F-A-C = F Major
G-B-D = G Major
A-C-Eb = A Diminished
B-D-F = B Diminished
C-Eb-G = C Minor
D-F-A = D Minor
Eb-G-B = Eb Major
So, if I were to take a I-IV-V from here, I’d actually end up with F, Bdim, C Minor. Not exactly a standard chord progression and it gives you an interesting flavor.
Next, soloing. There are more rules to what scale goes over what chord than I can count. I’ll break this down into my short, simple rule. If you can create the chord from the scale, it will most likely work.
Let me explain this a little more. If you talk to a Jazz guru about improvising with a Lydian Dominant scale, there are 2 recurring themes that you’ll hear over and over: (1) Use it for a non-resolving Dominant chord and (2) Tritone Substitution.
Take a look at the first two chords, F and G. If I extend my “every other one” chord pattern one more note, what do I get? F-A-C-Eb or F7 and G-B-D-F or G7. Two non-resolving Dominants just for you. See that B Diminished? F to B is technically and augmented 4th, which is the same as a diminished 5th, which is a tritone.
All the rules are already built into the scale/chord relationship. What I suggest is that you grab the backing tracks that I’ve put together for you and just try the F Lydian Dominant over each chord in the harmonized scale. Some combinations you’ll hate. Others, you’ll find really interesting. In the end, it’s your playing that needs to find a voice.