March 16, 2014

Learning The Lydian Dominant Scale

Back in the day, I thought I knew it all because I knew all of my Major and Minor scales and Modes.

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, I’m going to assume that you are familiar with the concept of Modes and Minor scales.


Lydian 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.


Mixolydian and Lydian Dominant


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.

About Suzanne

Suzanne is a music fanatic with over 24 years of experience on the guitar. She is most comfortable playing rock, jazz, and classical style guitar.


  1. more

    • Yes! Sound is sound.But problems you will run into if you don’t Experiment ALL over your forbteard when you are eating out a song is that you:- May start on the last strings and find that you are running out of easily reachable notes. Unstead of fingering them up the octaves you will have to use bends and just go up on one string. When I play Muddy Waters type stuff I use strings 1, 2 and 3 for those doublestops that Muddy uses a lot. It allows me to het ones like the flat3rd-5th by placing my finger on one fret. If I played the same doublstop on the lower strings I would have to use 2 frets. -Do NOT worry about doing the same thing that Muddy did or that B.B. King did. Just make the sound. Thats the entire basis of playing a instruments part that isn’t yours. Like playing what Hank Crawford does on Harmonica. Or playing what Little Walter did on Guitar.Music is a universal language. If the sounds are there, Musicians Will understand what you are saying. We don’t talk finger language. And we Don’t hear with our eyes. P.S. If you only know a couple patterns or scales but still want to Ear out songs, don’t fret. The notes being played are only a few frets away from the scales you know. Hear them then match them up. You don’t have to be a genius. Just move your finger up and down, left and right until you find it. Good Luck!

    • A guitar scale is a strnig of corresponding notes often used in solos or various other melodies. If you practice them everyday (a metronome could help) your speed should increase. A powerchord is usually two notes played at once on different strnigs that make a powerful chord. Traditional chords have three notes or more, power chords became popular in the 60 s I believe. For example, playing the 7th fret on the 5th strnig at the same time as the 5th fret on the 5th strnig you get a power chord. The video I linked to below is of Joe Satriani it’s not really about scales but he taught Zack Wylde how to play so it’s a good vid to have for practice. As for the 12 scales, walmart has guitar scale posters (with all the other posters) for around 4.00 with about 20 scales on them, the 12 are probaly all there, minor and major. As for the 15 watt amp if you have enough money for an Ibanez Iceman or a Gibson SG you’d probably be better off getting a guitar from or an epiphone and buying a more expensive solidstate amp combo. Carvin guitars makes nice combo amps for around 300.00 and you can get almost any sound you want. If you’ve already got the amp then either of those guitars should sound okay, the sound mainly comes from the amp though the guitars kind of color the sound.Go to youtube and cyberfret for some good lessons and God Bless. I wish you the best. ^_^

  2. Também conhecida como Mixolídio #4.

  3. John Pett says:

    Love the Lydian Dominant, actually sounds more "correct" to me than Lydian or the raw major scale. One exercise I love to do, and which really brings attention to the harmonic properties, is doing 16th note sweep runs starting from the root and the 5th string and outlining chord scales, with a few modal extensions thrown in on top and bottom. A great way to hear how the harmony builds with any particular scale.

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