When learning how to play jazz guitar, one of the scales that will pop up on a regular basis is the Lydian Dominant Scale.
The fourth mode of Melodic Minor, the Lydian Dominant Scale features a #11 interval in it’s construction, which makes it very similar to the Mixolydian Mode but with a bit of a “brighter” sound to it as the #11 gives it a distinct flavor compared to it’s Mixo cousin.
In today’s lesson, we’ll be learning, dissecting and performing 5 classic Lydian Dominant Scale licks that come from the jazz guitar vocabulary, and that will help you bring the Lydian Dominant sound into your solos in an organized and authentic fashion.
If you are new to this scale, check out my “Lydian Dominant Scale Fingerings for Guitar” page to help you get this important scale under your fingers and in your ears before you progress onto learning these 5 licks and phrases.
Do you have a question or comment about this lesson? Visit the 5 Lydian Dominant Licks thread at the MWG Forum.
When learning this lines, it’s important to not only memorize them as written, but to take them into other musical situations to make sure you get the most out each and every phrase in this lesson.
Here are a few ways that I like to practice lines that can help you internalize, memorize and master these licks.
This first lick, written in the style of the great jazz guitarist Pat Martino, is played over a V7-Imaj7 cadence in the key of F major.
Starting on the 13th of the C7 chord, the line then progresses down in a scale-wise motion until is descends a GmMaj7 arpeggio, that then resolves to the tonic at the start of the next bar.
Since the Lydian Dominant Scale is the 4th mode of the Melodic Minor Scale, playing a GmMaj7 arpeggio over C7 is a great way to bring the 7#11 sound into your lines and solos.
Click to hear audio for the Lydian Dominant Scale Lick 1
Featuring a variation of the first lick, especially in the first bar with the scale-wise motion and GmMaj7 arpeggio, this phrase is then expanded to cover two bars of a C7#11 chord, both of which use the Lydian Dominant Scale.
The line in bar two features a common Bebop idea, where, instead of playing directly from the A to G to F#, you take a slight detour and use the E-F-F# chromatic notes to get you to your destination.
This little phrase may only be a few notes long, but it is worth pulling out of this longer lick and bringing it into you playing in other situations, over other chords and inserting it into other scales and modes.
Click to hear audio for the Lydian Dominant Scale Lick 2
Using more of an arpeggio feel throughout the first half of the phrase, this lick also brings in the Dominant Bebop Scale into the last few notes of the line.
Because the Mixolydian and Bebop Scale are only one-note different they are often used interchangeably when soloing over 7th chords in a jazz context.
And, because the Mixolydian and Lydian Dominant are only one-note apart, and are both used over 7th chords, you can bring in the “bebop major 7” interval to your 7#11 lines as well.
To do this, you simply play the Lydian Dominant Scale as you normally would, but then you add in the bebop note, raised 7, to bring that Bebop Scale flavor into the mix at the same time.
If you want to explore this idea further, check out my video lesson “Intro to the Lydian Dominant Bebop Scale” for more information on this fun and important melodic device.
Click to hear audio for the Lydian Dominant Scale Lick 3
In this lick, which is played over a short ii-V-I progression in the key of C major, I used an A7 arpeggio over the G7 chord to bring out the Lydian Dominant color over that section of the phrase.
This is a fun and important tool that you can use to build 7#11 lines without simply running around the Lydian Dominant Scale.
Playing a 7 chord one-step, 2-frets, higher than the chord you are on, such as playing A7 over G7, gives you the 9th, #11, 13th and Root of the underlying chord.
So, you get a lot of the juicy, colorful notes of the G7#11 chord, while stepping beyond the Lydian Dominant Scale at the same time.
This is a concept that is worth extracting from this lick and exploring further in your practice routine.
Click to hear audio for the Lydian Dominant Scale Lick 4
The last line in this lesson returns to the A7 shape over G7, to create a G7#11 sound. But, this time it is part of a descending sequence that runs a G triad, to an A triad before resolving to a Cmaj6 arpeggio in the last bar of the phrase.
Using the #11 note as a passing tone between the 5th of G7, D, and the root of Cmaj7, C, is a common way to bring a sense of chromaticism to your lines as you solo with the Lydian Dominant Scale.
Click to hear audio for the Lydian Dominant Scale Lick 5
As jazz guitarists, we know that the 7#11 sound is something we need to have under our fingers and in our ears, but learning this scale and turning it into music can sometimes be two different things all together.
By studying licks and patterns taken from the jazz repertoire, such as the 5 laid out in this lesson, you will not only learn to apply the Lydian Dominant sound to your solos, but you will do so with an authentic sounding and convincing fashion at the same time.
After checking out these licks in the woodshed, head on over to the Matt Warnock Guitar Facebook Page and share your thoughts on this lesson or ask any questions you may have regarding the Altered Scale, or anything jazz guitar for that matter.
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