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Lydian Bass Mode | Easy Scale Lesson

Introduction to the Lydian mode

The Lydian bass mode is one of the most “exotic” sounding modes on bass guitar.

In this lesson you’ll learn what Lydian is, the Lydian bass scale sequence, and look at a fretboard diagram to help you visualize Lydian.

What is the Lydian mode?

The Lydian bass mode is the 4th mode of the major scale, and is commonly used over major and major 7th chords because of its harmonic structure.

Being the 4th mode of the major scale simply means the Lydian bass scale is built from the 4th degree of the major scale.

You’ll see this put into practice in the upcoming examples.

Where Lydian’s name comes from

Major scale modes have Greek names.

The Lydian modes name comes from the region of Lydia, a region that was next to ancient Greece.

Lydian scale formula and interval structure

The Lydian scale formula is:


The #4 is the single interval that sets the Lydian mode apart from the Ionian mode (the major scale).

Constructing Lydian in whole and half steps

Here’s the Lydian mode constructed in whole and half steps:


This means you can pick any root note, follow this pattern of whole and half steps, and when resolving on the root note you will have played through a Lydian scale!

Applying Lydian

Lydian is considered a major mode, because its root chord is a major triad.

The Lydian mode is commonly used over a Maj7#11 chord, as the #11/#4 is the Lydian mode’s defining interval.

You can also use Lydian over major chords and major 7th chords possessing the same root.

This also means that it can be played over the IV chord in a major scale progression, as the IV chord can be a major triad or a major 7th chord.

C Major Scale Bass

Here’s the C major bass scale, which you’ll use as a reference for understanding Lydian.

If you don’t know, the interval structure of the major scale has no sharps or flats. The scale formula is 1-2-3-4-5-6-7.

Notes in C major


C major bass scale one octave

F Lydian

Here’s the F Lydian bass scale.

This is the 4th mode of the C major scale (shown above). You can derive the Lydian mode from the C major scale or any other major scale by building the scale from the 4th degree.

As you can see, F Lydian has the same notes as the C major scale, but F is used as the root note.

Since F is the new root note, the interval structure changes in the scale sequence! The new structure is the Lydian scale sequence: 1-2-3-#4-5-6-7

Notes in F Lydian


F Lydian Bass Scale

C Lydian Scale Bass

Here’s the C Lydian bass scale.

This is often referred to as the parallel mode for the C major mode/scale.

As you can see, the only thing that’s changed relative to the C major scale is the F note has moved to F#. This is the #4 interval, which you’ve learned is what sets Lydian apart from Ionian (major).

Notes in C Lydian


C Lydian Bass Scale

C Lydian Bass Mode Fretboard Diagram

Here’s a complete C Lydian bass scale diagram, with the intervals.

Even though I used note names in the above examples, it’s also good and important to analyze the mode by looking at it’s interval structure across the fretboard.

C Lydian Bass Scale Fretboard Diagram Showing Intervals

Conclusion: Practicing the Lydian Bass Mode

Now that you’ve learned some Lydian bass scale shapes, it’s time to put them into practice!

When practicing the mode pay attention to how the #4 sounds relative to a major chord or major 7th chord with the same name.

Start by practicing with the F Lydian scale, because all of it’s notes are natural, which makes it easier to understand. Plus, you may already be familiar with the notes of this mode if you know the C major scale.

From there you can practice using C Lydian, the Lydian mode parallel to C Major. This will help you understand how the #4 sounds relative to a major 4th interval. Try playing both scales over a C major chord.

In general, you can type in “Lydian backing track” on YouTube, which will help you practice the mode.

What’s next?

Looking for some other bass scales to master? Then check out these 2 lessons:

Major Pentatonic Bass Shapes | 5 pentatonic scale positions

Minor and Major Blues Scale Bass: Comprehensive Guide

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