The Lydian Dominant Scale, also known as the Lydian b7 scale, is the fourth mode of the melodic minor. But don’t worry about that for now as what we’re going to do is approach it from the good old A minor pentatonic scale instead. This offers you an easy way to get it up and running in your playing, rather than having to learn all about the melodic minor scale and its modes, which you can do here.
First, let’s compare the two scales visually.
As you can see, both scales share the 1, 5, and b7. The #4 you see in the Lydian Dominant scale is also known as the b5 – the blue note – so you should be able to incorporate this one. The trick is to leave out the natural 4 because this is what will give you that Lydian b7 sound. If you leave the other 4 in, you’ll just get the blues scale.
What’s more, you may be used to playing the Am Pentatonic Scale in a blues or rock situation where you normally bend between the b3 and 3. This works out great because the Lydian Dominant scale contains the 3.
Now let’s compare A Major Pentatonic to A Lydian b7.
The A Major Pentatonic scale gives you a great way to incorporate the other two intervals from the Lydian b7 scale, the 2 and the 6. Remember, replacing the natural 4 with a #4 (or the b5 if you want to think of it like the ‘blue note’) is what will allow you to work in that Lydian Dominant scale without it sounding too forced and obvious.
Lydian Dominant Scale – Hidden Chords
One of my favorite things to do is pull chords out of scale patterns – that way I can either use them as part of a solo to provide more melodic movement, as variations on the A7 chord if I’m playing rhythm, or as a reference for where I can use the Lydian b7 scale to good effect.
Check out these hidden chords below. There’s the trusty Hendrix chord (D#7#9), and the top part of an A9 chord (C#m7b5), plus a few others to add to your repertoire.
If you’re interested in learning more about where the Lydian b7 scale and various other modes come from, check out our Scale Fluency series, which also features a major/minor pentatonics edition.