If you want to make music with a scale, it’s best to strip it down to its essence – a playable one-octave shape – so that you don’t have to worry about remembering patterns and juggling large amounts of notes. For this kind of exercise, I like to use patterns on the top three or four strings with an extra 7 thrown in to help with resolving lines. Here’s an example:
By far the most important notes in a Lydian scale are the 1, 3, #4, and the 7; these notes give you the essence of the Lydian sound, while the rest play a supporting role. This means that you can’t give all the notes equal volume, vibrato, placement and use; you need to give more importance to the 1, 3, #4, and the 7. The first thing to do is mess around with this pattern but EMPHASIZE the important intervals; in fact, put your headphones on so that no one can hear you and really exaggerate the 1, 3, #4, and the 7 for a while to bring out that Lydian flavor. Once you’ve done this, try playing some regular lines and see how much better they sound.
The Shy Scale
I’d say the melodic minor scale is one of the shyest of all scales in that in the beginning, it’s hard to bring out the sound. At first it sounds like a major scale tacked onto a minor scale, then it just sounds weird and unusable, so you sling on a few backing tracks and you kind of get into it, but it’s not until you really exaggerate those 3rds and 7ths that you begin to coax out the real sound of the scale.
Getting to Know You
This is a great exercise to do with scales you haven’t used before. Check out this Dorian b2 scale:
Try this out with your CAGED and 3NPS patterns to see if you can make them more musical. It’s more of a challenge because of the number of notes you’re juggling, but you should be able to hear the difference.
If you like the above patterns, download the PDF below which contains 12 of them to practice with.