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Thread: The Lydian-Chromatic concept

  1. #1
    Registered User sweetious's Avatar
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    The Lydian-Chromatic concept

    Does anyone know anything about this concept concieved by George Russel? It sounds like the very thing I have been looking for all this time... Also I have heard of a book by Ted Dunbar about Tonal Gravity, anyone know about that as well?

  2. #2
    IbreatheMusic Author ChrisJ's Avatar
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    The Lydian Chromatic system, from what I understand, relates all modal scales back to either the Lydian or Lydian Augmented scale (I've never actually read the book, so forgive me if I'm mistaken). Ex: E phrygian = F lydian rather than E phrygian = C major (the more traditional way of thinking).

    I personally don't see the advantage in this way of looking at harmony, unless you where born thinking the lydian mode is the tonal center of music and I don't personally know any musicians that use this system as an improvisational tool. Any system has advantages and disadvantages and anything is worth researching. Check it out if you get a chance and let me know what you think.

    "The advancing guitarist" is a great book.

    -CJ

  3. #3
    Registered User SeattleRuss's Avatar
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    Right Chris. And from what I understand, George Russel's premise is that the major scale has too much inherent motion, i.e. just the sound of it gives the feeling of wanting to go towards the IV, whereas the lydian just sorts of sits there.....lol. He may be right but as you said, I see no advantages in thinking "everything lydian".

    Russ
    http://www.russletson.com

  4. #4
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    I don't know all the ins and outs of George Russell's theory but isn't part of it that the Lydian scale fits better with most harmonies because you don't get the clash with the 3 and 4. It is the #4 instead.

    So you can safely play the C lydian scale over a Cmaj7 chord, whereas you can't play the C Ionian scale without clashing with one of the guide tones in the chord.

    This also explains why you can play a Gmaj7 arp over a Cmaj7 chord - Gmaj7 is the V chord from the C lydian scale.

    Apparently the lydian scale is "more major" than the major scale.

  5. #5
    Registered User sweetious's Avatar
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    I went to lydianchromaticconcept.com and it explains a little. One thing I did get was that If you build seven intervals of perfect fifths (the most stable interval) You get C G D A E B F# and if you stack those notes in an octave you get the lydian mode, that is why it is the most stable.
    "I see no advantages in thinking "everything lydian"." -russ I don't think from what I can tell so far that he is saying always think lydian, I will get the book and find out since the greatest jazz composers and improvisers rely heavily upon his theories, anyways, He is for sure saying that the lydian is a place with no tonal "gravity" it is not pulling you or pushing you anywhere like all other chords so you know that if you are playing any other scale or mode it is pushing you somewhere hence the Chromatic part, in fact he talks something about using all twelve tones and always having twelve scales to play that push you back to lydian. Thats all I got from the web site, Iknow there is way more to it since the first volume is 260 some pages and he is working on a second volume to complete the theory.
    "I don't personally know any musicians that use this system as an improvisational tool." -ChrisJ
    You may not know them personally but you have surely listened to them...Miles Davis and John Coltrane were hugely influenced by this theory, two of the greatest improvisers ever, Miles was so influenced that his album Kind of Blue was recorded as a Lydian Chromatic experiment right after George told him about it, he was so excited about it... I cannot wait to get the book, I have a feeling it will ummm... rock!
    Oh go to his websites and read some about it, Georgerussel.com and Lydianchromaticconcept.com, they are vague because they want you to buy the book (which I will) but they talk about how he saw the theory and who it influenced and even a little about what it is....
    First master your instrument. Then forget all that $#@% and play! -- Charlie Parker
    Last edited by sweetious; 01-07-2004 at 04:32 AM.

  6. #6
    Registered User SeattleRuss's Avatar
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    Hey Sweetious -

    I know that upon first reading about the Lydian Chromatic Concept, it can seem exciting....
    And I am the last person in the world who would want, in any way, to stifle that feeling but...
    Let me just say that I think I'm pretty familiar with the approaches used by Coltrane & Davis during the making of "Kind of Blue"....
    George Russel was, I beleive, instrumental in furthering the cause for modal improvisation, however, I feel pretty confident that neither Davis nor Coltrane were thinking in terms of his "Lydian Chromatic Concept" at all while playing. I'm sure they investigated it thoroughly though.
    I've known a lot of musicians who studied it only to abandon it after they discovered that Russel basically is just giving different names to already existing scales & modes. Not only that, to be able to get anything out of his system at all, you have to have an intimate understanding of all the scales, modes, harmony, chord forms etc common to western music, so really, it's like putting another layer between you and the music - I see no point in it.
    Some examples of a "revolutionary" idea for soloing on a C7 chord - Bb Lydian. Well, Bb Lydian *is* C Mixolydian, the mode that is commonly used to play over dominants. Or another one, the "Bb Lydian Augmented scale" used over a C7....guess what? it's just another name for the C Lydian b7, or Lydian dominant scale, one of the modes of the Melodic minor - no great revelation here.
    It's not that I'm saying that any of George Russel's ideas or concepts are wrong - it's just his way of organizing things.

    Russ
    http://www.russletson.com

  7. #7
    IbreatheMusic Author ChrisJ's Avatar
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    Hi Russ,
    I read Japanese so I got a kick out of your "I love strange music" thing. Why Osaka Ben?

    Anyway, back to the Lydian Chromatic thing. I think back when Jazz progressed into a modal thing rather than the "arpeggio against the chord" way of thinking of the Bebop era, the Lydian Chromatic idea was new and refreshing to the players in those days, who where looking for ways to organize modal thinking. Like any system, if it works, it's good I guess but it seems a little easier to think: D dorian = C major rather than: D dorian = F lydian. Like I said before, I never read the book, so I might be missing the point.

    sweetious and gregburt: I'm interested in anything so let me know if the book sheds some light on the subject for you. The Miles Davis "Kind of Blue" record is great, and when Miles is playing the D dorian scale in "So What," we'll never know if he was thinking C major, F lydian or maybe even...D dorian. It's fun to imagine anyways....

    By the way, I also mentioned it in my last post, "The Advancing Guitarist" discusses the Lydian Chromatic Concept along with several other modal systems. Great book!
    -CJ

  8. #8
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
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    Chris,

    good point... I agree that "The Advancing Guitarist" is an awesome book. I especially loved those random thoughts at the end... man, some of those you could think about for days

    Everyone, Guni reviewed the book for ibreathe.... check it out:
    http://www.ibreathemusic.com/reviews/article/11

    Eric

  9. #9
    Registered User SeattleRuss's Avatar
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    LOL Chris!!
    It's Osaka ben because....my japanese is pretty weird...
    I learned a lot by watching videos, and "Downtown" was a favorite. Plus I had some roomates for a couple of years that spoke some of the most unintelligable Kansai ben you ever heard! Kind of kishiwada ben and kawachi ben mixed. So when I speak, you might hear 5 dialects come out at once! lol....

    On to the Lydian Chromatic thing, re-reading my post, I hope I didn't come off like I have some inside knowledge of what was going through Davis and Coltrane's minds while they were recording "Kind of Blue" or any of their stuff. Of course, that's impossible. I also don't want to discourage any kind of research / investigation into any aspect of music theory. For sure, there are many roads to arrive at any given sound we're trying to get. Although I use and teach methods of playing that result in achieving a certain modal sound by playing in another mode already known to the player, Ex., student is already fluent in the aeolian mode all over the neck., he wants to get a phrygian sound over a D5 chord, he can just play G aeolian. I do think it's really important though, to internalize the sound of the modes by learning and playing them from the root up, to get a real feel for them, and to be able to instantly grab a note and already know what it's going to sound like over a given harmony.
    Somebody slap me......ramble ramble....lol

    Russ
    http://www.russletson.com

  10. #10
    Resident Curmudgeon szulc's Avatar
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    Point of View

    I read this book in college. It seemed to make some sense, but ia way it was kind of like "So What?". I do remember when I first learned modes that I was resistant because it seemed to be redundant to learn the Major scale from each root. Later I realized the whole modal thing is all about who is masquerading as the root of the moment. I realized it was how each mode sounded from the root that made the difference. This book is sort of like that because you say to yourself "I already know the modes, whay do I need to recategorize them?" It is possible that you could be brought to some great musical epiphany but changing you point of view. Then again maybe not...
    The chances are that back when this was published it was mostly a new way of looking at things. Since we live in the day of the Internet it all seems passe'.
    This is a great topic for thought provoking discussion though.
    "Listen to the Spaces Between the sounds."
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  11. #11
    Registered User sweetious's Avatar
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    Szulc, since you have read the book and most of us haven't could you at least give us the main idea, is it just a renaming of modes? That would seem silly to me and if that is all it is as Russ and Chris have said then why bother, it is just a matter of convention and communication. And we already have our convention, if you tell me lydian dominant I know what you are saying In a more direct manner than If you say play the melodic minor of G minor over a D7 although it is also true that I have to a more intimate knowledge of the convention of naming the modes.... anyways, I just want to know if the book is worth my time... I do think it is interesting the theory that Lydian is more stable and at rest than Ionian...

  12. #12
    Registered User SeattleRuss's Avatar
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    szulc - read through some of these. I spent a few hours reading through these after this thread got going. You might not recognize the names of a lot of these posters, but alot of them are extremely heavy hitters in the jazz world. There's many different perspectives on the LCC....

    http://groups.google.com/groups?as_e...TF-8&lr=&hl=en

    Russ
    http://www.russletson.com

  13. #13
    Registered User SeattleRuss's Avatar
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    Uh...I meant - Sweetious....lol

    Russ
    http://www.russletson.com

  14. #14
    IbreatheMusic Author ChrisJ's Avatar
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    Hmm... looked over some of the links, sounds heavy. As I said before, never read the book myself or know anybody personally that uses it (or at least says that they do) so I don't have an opinion one way or another but I would suggest everyone first try to understand "traditional" major scale/modal theory before diving in. It's best to have a reference point. From the links that Russ provided and from stories that I have personally heard there are basically two points of view on the subject:

    A) A logical approach to catagorizing modal harmony.
    B) Confusing and not worth the effort.

    In the "The Avancing Guitarist" Mick Goodrick explains the system a little bit and pretty much takes the middle road. He states, and I quote him from the book; "One appealing feature of the L.C.C. is that it is a complete and consistent system within itself. One less appealing feature is that it can tend to be confusing to someone who doesn't already have a strong background in both derivative and parallel thinking." He goes on to say that the system have its own advantages and disadvantages.

    I'll explain what derivative and parallel means so those of you who may not understand the meaning won't get confused more by my post.

    Derivative: D dorian = C major, D lydian b7 = A melodic minor. (refering back to the major or MM scale)

    Parallel: D dorian = D dorian, D lydian b7 = D lydian b7. (each mode a seperate entity).

    Lydian Chromatic: D dorian = F lydian, D lydian b7 = C lydian Augmented. (refering to back to the lydian and lydian aug scale).

    Anyway, as long as what you play sounds cool, anything goes.

    -CJ

  15. #15
    Registered User Spin 2513's Avatar
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    Originally posted by gregburt
    I don't know all the ins and outs of George Russell's theory but isn't part of it that the Lydian scale fits better with most harmonies because you don't get the clash with the 3 and 4. It is the #4 instead.

    So you can safely play the C lydian scale over a Cmaj7 chord, whereas you can't play the C Ionian scale without clashing with one of the guide tones in the chord.

    This also explains why you can play a Gmaj7 arp over a Cmaj7 chord - Gmaj7 is the V chord from the C lydian scale.

    Apparently the lydian scale is "more major" than the major scale.
    First of all by adding the major 7 th to C major , you have made a Dissonant tension , so playing C lydian is the natural thing to do . C major only has 3 notes ,so there is less to think about . a root and fifth power chord has two , so you can play any tonality you want , like M.Friedman does

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