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Thread: Chord progressions in Lydian Mode

  1. #1
    JazzNerd gersdal's Avatar
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    Question Chord progressions in Lydian Mode

    From Howard Morgens "All about chord progressions" the following chord motions are given:
    - I can progress to any other chord: However, it favours IV and V. In addition, it can act as n intermediate harmony between any two chords formulated from this list.
    - ii (IIminor) gravitates towards V or VIIdim and sometimes IV
    - iii usually moves to vi or IV. less so to V and ii.
    - IV is usually follod by V or I and sometimes by vi,ii, and VIIdim.
    - V most often goes to I and sometimes to IV or vi.
    - vi an progress to ii, IV, or V.
    - VIIdim usually resolves to I, but also goes to iii.

    In my experience this works well for Ionian mode (I,ii,iii,IV,V,vi,VIIdim), but not work for Lydian mode (I,II,iii,#IVdim,V,vi,vii) and probably not for all other standard modes (Dorian, MIxolydian and Aeolian is not so bad). For me it is sometimes difficult to get back to the I in the Lydian mode, and it feels more natural to go back to the I in the similar Ionian mode. Some changes gives a very good Lydian mode (I-II-I, II,V,I), and others does not at all.

    Does anybody have information about standard chord motions in Lydian mode like what Howard Morgen gives for the Ionian mode?

    Gerhard

  2. #2
    Mode Rator Zatz's Avatar
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    Hi gersdal,

    I remember we discussed general issues related to building progressions here:

    Building progressions thread

    But what you'll find in this thread is all about simple major and natural minor scale mostly. Still we should follow the same steps to establish Lydian tonality and try to figure out tension and resolutions directions in the possible chord progressions that would sound well and have a bright Lydian feel.

    For me it is sometimes difficult to get back to the I in the Lydian mode, and it feels more natural to go back to the I in the similar Ionian mode
    Right. It's the main problem here. The interval structure of the major scale establishes Ionian scale due to 7-1 & 3-4 halfsteps.

    Let me put F Lydian into focus to be more specific. Plus I'm going to speak 7th chords.

    Fmaj7(Imaj7), G7(II7), Am7(iii7), Bm7b5(#iv7b5), Cmaj7(Vmaj7), Dm7(vi7), Em7(vii7)

    Provided we strictly adhere the Lydian set of notes we face the following troubles:

    * No perfect forth (P4) bass. Tritone F-B instead.
    * Vmaj7 which doesn't contain tritone to resolve to Imaj7 (Cmaj7->Fmaj7). Lack of tension. No evident dominant chord.
    * Not quite clear what chords can be called subdominant except for maybe vi7(Dm7).

    The whole mess.

    I can see the way out by destroying the competitive tonal center - Vmaj7(Cmaj7) by introducing dissonance into this chord. The easiest thing to do is flattening M7 to get V7 chord. But we'll play fair and won't alter any single note

    What about Cmaj11 (c e f g b) with such fingering?

    -0-
    -0-
    -0-
    -3-
    -3-
    -x-

    Three(!) awful tension here:

    * B-C (half-step)
    * E-F (half-step)
    * B-F (tritone)

    Now see what happens. In V->I (Cmaj11->F) progression we get such chord transition:

    -0(e)---->---1(f)-
    -0(b)---->---1(c)-
    -0(g)---->--2(a)-
    -3(f)- --->--3(f)-
    -3(c)---->---3(c)-
    -x-------->---1(f)-

    Smooth voiceleading brings nice resolution plus pedal C-F interval establishes the tonality.

    Now about the subdominant group. We have G7 on the II degree. Let's kill it too. Why not use Gadd9? Pretty well inside Phrigian. No tension towards V degree (tonic in Ionian).

    This done go ahead and use cicle of 5ths & diatonic movements and listen to what you'll get and decide what sounds more Phrygian to you.

    Just random thoughts. I'm sure you may come up with some other ideas. Have fun.

    Warm regards,
    Zatz.
    Last edited by Zatz; 02-18-2004 at 11:56 AM.
    Zadd9 -> A6 -> T#9b5 -> Zmaj7

  3. #3
    JazzNerd gersdal's Avatar
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    Hi Zatz,
    Thanks for you reply. The tensions you suggests are tested, and found exiting and inspiring - and best of all I think it is working. I received a e-mail from Chris Juergensen on the subject, and for your information a part of the e-mail follows here:
    "I hope my answer doesn't discourage you
    from trying to find different modal progressions but: I
    think that while the ionian and aolian mode tend to
    lend themselves to chord longer chord progressions that
    end up back at the "I" or "i" chord, the other modes do
    not. They generally work ok for short progressions: D
    dorian: Dmin7 - G7, F lydian: F-G, G mixolydian: G - F,
    etc..
    Modal harmony usually gets used in a different way, the
    chords in the modal progression tend to be unrelated
    and, more so than the triad or 7th chord, the upper
    extentions in the chord get emphasized: for the lydian
    mode, maybe four bars of Amaj#11, four of Cmaj7#11 and
    another four of Emaj7#11 is just one example of how
    modern composers might use the lydian mode as a
    harmonic tool to compose with. "
    I'll keep on working on the Lydian mode, and keep you all updated if your interested.
    Gerhard

  4. #4
    Mode Rator Zatz's Avatar
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    Gerhard,

    I'm glad it worked for you! And thanks for sharing the info Chris sent you! Very useful thoughts. Please do go ahead and post anything you manage to find on this topic - I will be happy to know more

    Warm regards,
    Zatz.
    Zadd9 -> A6 -> T#9b5 -> Zmaj7

  5. #5
    Registered User sweetious's Avatar
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    Hey gersdal,
    Just a little thought, maybe it will seem stupid or not really deep but it is something I have noticed about modes in general as well as the lydian mode which is one of my favorites... Modes tend to not have as much tension as traditional tonal music i.e. true major and minor (natural, melodic and harmonic.) Modes have a little more of a floating quality rather than a tendency to always be moving towards a tonal center. Take this with a grain of salt this is not always true and there are subtle tensions in all of the modes. The cool thing about the lydian mode is that there are two leading tones that lead into the I. The 7th and #4th degrees in the scale push into the one. If you play any chord with either of these notes in it it wil push back to the I. anyways, have fun and let your ear be your guide.

    First master your instrument. Then forget all that %$#& and play!-- Charlie Parker

  6. #6
    JazzNerd gersdal's Avatar
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    Hi sweetious,
    Thanks for your reply. I have seen your point, and it is a struggle to create longer chord progressions in Lydian mode. Sometimes I feel I get it, and then when playing the whole thing over again it's not that good anymore. Shorter modal vamps to create the Lydian mode works fine. I will check your idea of "the 7th and #4th degrees in the scale push into the one".
    Gerhard

  7. #7
    after looking at all these points and trying them all out i have actually come to the rather disheartening conclusion that th best one is just Chord I - Chord II while holding a pedal, anything longer just kind of loses it, (i usually try and put some false relations in with any other chords i use but you really cant beat it!)

    the trick is, to make yours sound different to anything else in lYdian so you need to do a lot of inversions and again false relations in among the piece...

    If anyone knows of any good progressions though i would very much appreciate it if they could post it... My band is recording next week and theres a part in lydian that works really well, ill post it a.s.a.p

  8. #8
    Jazzman Poparad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zabakuz
    after looking at all these points and trying them all out i have actually come to the rather disheartening conclusion that th best one is just Chord I - Chord II while holding a pedal, anything longer just kind of loses it, (i usually try and put some false relations in with any other chords i use but you really cant beat it!)
    This is very true. Adding too many chords to a modal 'progression' makes things sounds like it should go back to the I of a major or minor key.

    Modal music is often very simple and only uses 1, 2 or 3 chords. I think people tend to want to make things more complicated than they really are.

    the trick is, to make yours sound different to anything else in lYdian so you need to do a lot of inversions and again false relations in among the piece...
    You don't need to do all that. All you need is a good melody to make your music to be unique. So often we get hung up on complicated harmonic ideas that we foget that the best music is the music with great melodies. (Not that harmony isn't important, but it isn't the only thing to think about).

  9. #9
    JazzNerd gersdal's Avatar
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    Hi,
    Zabacuz: I made an small example of what I managed in nearly pure lydian mode in the thread http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/...ead.php?t=7437
    However, I do agree with you that constructing long progressions in lydian mode is not easy, short vamps are rather preferable.

    Poparad you wrote: "Modal music is often very simple and only uses 1, 2 or 3 chords. I think people tend to want to make things more complicated than they really are."

    Yes, I agree to some extent, but it's fun and challanging to force yourself to think out of the "box". I don't know if it makes very good music though :-).

    G

  10. #10
    Registered User JohnJumper's Avatar
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    I learned this concept from a Frank Gambale DVD and it really simplifies the concept of modal chord progression construction. Maybe this will help...

    The most identifiable chord progression from any key is the IV - V which is a Major to Major chord change and the only place where 2 Major chords are that close together in a diatonic key.

    What the heck does that mean? That means that a change from C to D can identify the key as G Major because those are the IV and V chords of the G Major scale.

    Ok ... so what ... How do you make a modal Lydian sound with that? If you put the C (the fourth note in the scale) in the bass for both of those chords you get the Lydian sound .... so .... C to D/C will sound Lydian. Just to strengthen the concept - putting the A in the bass (C/A to D/C) would make it sound Dorian - Why is that? Because A is the second note in the G scale or the root of the Dorian Mode.

    Here is a chord progression that illustrates the concept... if I want to play C Lydian and then move to C Dorian I could play:

    |: C ... D/C ... | C ... D/C ... | Eb/C ... F/C ... | Eb/C ... F/C ... :|

    Why is that Lydian to Dorian? Well the "C to D/C" progression we just talked about and is the Lydian sounding chord progression we built above. C Dorian will be based on the Bb Major scale (C is the second note in the Bb Major Scale) where the IV chord is Eb and then we put the C in the bass to get the Dorian sound then F is the V chord of Bb Major and we again put the C in the bass to get the Dorian sound. So we have a IV to V chord progression with the second in the bass (Dorian)

    I probably do not do as good a job describing that as Frank does but ... you get what you get and you don't throw a fit.

    Now I will do an equally bad job illustrating it whith sound. I have attached a recording of this chord progression and then another shorter version with some lead...Sorry the lead is so lame but I think it illustrates the points...
    Attached Files Attached Files

  11. #11
    Registered User JohnJumper's Avatar
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    After all that I forgot to add this point to address your question. The Lydian modes are still gona give you the same tension and release that you hear in the Ionian mode because they are the same chords (different bass reference)...It is hard to resolve to the I chord in Lydian because there is so much tension - The I in Lydian is the IV in Ionian which always wants to move to the V. So to end on the Lydian I is like dropping one shoe...Just because the chords have the same names in the other mode (i.e. one two three) does not mean they perform the same harmoic function in that mode that they perform in the Ionian mode...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by gersdal
    From Howard Morgens "All about chord progressions" the following chord motions are given:
    - I can progress to any other chord: However, it favours IV and V. In addition, it can act as n intermediate harmony between any two chords formulated from this list.
    - ii (IIminor) gravitates towards V or VIIdim and sometimes IV
    - iii usually moves to vi or IV. less so to V and ii.
    - IV is usually follod by V or I and sometimes by vi,ii, and VIIdim.
    - V most often goes to I and sometimes to IV or vi.
    - vi an progress to ii, IV, or V.
    - VIIdim usually resolves to I, but also goes to iii.
    This table is only valid for major keys (minor keys are also similiar but have some differences). however, modes don't have their own progression tables/charts/formulas whatever you call them, only scales do (minor and major scales).

  13. #13
    JazzNerd gersdal's Avatar
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    Hi Shade of black,
    Yes, I agree that the scheme I mentioned does not work for the other modes, and it is not easy to establish a scheme like that for the Lydian, Phrygian etc modes. However, Zatz gave some good ideas about creating tension to resolve naturally to the root chord. Zatz also gave a good example of a good tension chord that resolves well to the root chord in lydian mode, the Vmaj7sus4. Some days ago I also discovered that the VIImb9 also is a good tension chord in lydian mode. For other discussions on the lydian mode I understand that I should look a little more into Vai and Satriani's tunes, and analyse these a little more in detail.

    I have attached two files utilizing the mentioned tension chords.

    G (with the middle name "Steve" according to the guitar quiz)
    Attached Files Attached Files

  14. #14
    Registered User Sir Speedy's Avatar
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    I liked that piece on Gambale C D/C Eb/C F/C ... i always wondered how he thought of that ... cool


    I like playing A lydian relative to E major , i think it's an easy key to work with .

    the whole point of the lydian sound to me is it doesn't resolve meaning it goes to the vi ii or IV instead of the I

    here's a progression



    A maj////.. D#min7-5/ .. B maj ///.... A maj7

    F#min G#min A sus

    B Maj A Sus C# min7 F#sus

    You can even ring out some open high E and B strings here , for that suspended sound I don't dig the idea of keeping the chords exact .

    i go for the "Rush" chords here
    ________
    *** Cams
    Last edited by Sir Speedy; 09-15-2011 at 08:35 AM.

  15. #15
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    lydian mode

    if you are into lydian you should check out the work of
    george russell, from the new england consertatory
    i think his book is simple entitled the lydian mode

    it is his belief that the lydian mode is really the center
    of tonality, meaning that the #4 is correct rather than
    the perfect 4th that occurs in the ionian mode .... and that
    we have been wrong for centuries.... the theory is very far out
    there but listening to his music sometimes makes you think that he could be right

    and i would argree that it is hard to resolve and stay in lydian
    but listening to russell vast repretoire you can get a feel for it

    hope you check him out or just listen to hin compositions

    arnold

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