• A Lesson On The Lydian Dominant Scale And My Favorite Dominant Thirteenth Chord

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,General Music,Gospel music,Jazz music,Piano,Scales,Theory

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    If you’re interested in learning about the harmony of the Lydian dominant scale, then this lesson is for you.

    The Lydian dominant scale is one of the best scale options for dominant chords that resolve to major chords (in the major key). So many scholars and great players can attest to this.

    Notwithstanding your favorite music genre (whether gospel or jazz), you’ll appreciate the dominant thirteenth chord we’ll be learning in this lesson and the good thing is that the scale and chord we’re learning can be played side-by-side and this is because the latter is derived from the former.

    So, kindly give me your undivided attention for the next seven minutes or so and I guarantee that you’ll be glad you did.

    A Breakdown Of The Lydian Dominant Scale

    The Lydian dominant scale is a synthetic mode.

    Synthetic modes are derived from other traditional scales like the melodic and harmonic minor scale.

    The fourth mode of the melodic minor scale is the synthetic mode that is known as the Lydian dominant scale. If the G melodic minor scale:

    …is played in such a way that it starts and ends on its fourth tone (which is C):

    …this produces the C Lydian dominant scale:

    …which is the fourth mode of the G melodic minor scale.

    Now Let’s Take Our Focus Off The Melodic Minor Scale…”

    The Lydian dominant scale combines the features of two notable modal scales: the Lydian scale and the Mixolydian scale.

    Check out these two scales starting from C:

    The C Lydian scale:

    …is a major scale with a raised fourth (F to F#).

    The C Mixolydian scale:

    …is a major scale with a lowered seventh (B to Bb).

    The C Lydian dominant scale:

    …has the raised fourth and the lowered seventh combined in one scale. So, you have a Mixolydian scale that has no avoid note.

    Attention: The avoid note is the fourth tone of the scale. The Lydian dominant scale does NOT have an avoid note because the fourth tone is raised.

    “For Your Reference, Here Are All The Lydian Dominant Scales On The Keyboard…”

    The C Lydian dominant scale:

    The Db Lydian dominant scale:

    The D Lydian dominant scale:

    The Eb Lydian dominant scale:

    The E Lydian dominant scale:

    The F Lydian dominant scale:

    The Gb Lydian dominant scale:

    The G Lydian dominant scale:

    The Ab Lydian dominant scale:

    The A Lydian dominant scale:

    The Bb Lydian dominant scale:

    The B Lydian dominant scale:

    My Favorite Dominant Thirteenth Chord

    It’s not new that scales form chords and the Lydian dominant scale is no exception to this rule.

    The Lydian dominant scale is the underlying scale of my favorite dominant thirteenth chord and that’s the dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord.

    The Dominant Thirteenth [Sharp Eleventh] Chord

    Using the C Lydian dominant scale as a reference:

    …we can form a thirteenth chord by stacking notes together using a fixed interval of thirds.

    “It’s Simpler Than It Sounds…”

    Starting from C:

    A third above C is E:

    …and a third above E is G:

    Altogether, that’s the C major triad:

    …and that’s not all:

    A third above G is Bb:

    …and another third above Bb is D:

    At this point, we’ve formed the C dominant ninth chord:

    …and we’re going all the way up to the thirteenth:

    A third above D is F#:

    …and a third above F# is A:

    If all the scale tones derived from the fixed third intervals are played together, the outcome is the C dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

    Now, before I show you how this chord can be resolved and applied, let me show you how to voice it.

    “Part-Over-Root” Voicing Of The Dominant Thirteenth [Sharp Eleventh] Chord

    It’s very unrealistic to play the dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord with one hand. But if you follow the voicing guideline below, you can play any dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord on the keyboard.

    So, here’s the dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord in two simple steps:

    Step 1. Establish the root on the left hand.

    Step 2. Go down a whole-step from the root on the right hand and play a major seventh [sharp five] chord.

    ‘Let’s Form The F Dominant Thirteenth [Sharp Eleventh] Chord…”

    Step 1. Establish the root on the left hand.

    The root is F:

    Step 2. Go down a whole-step from the root on the right hand and play a major seventh [sharp five] chord.

    The root on the right hand is F:

    …and a whole-step below F is Eb:

    So, the Eb major seventh [sharp five] chord:

    Altogether, we have the Eb major seventh [sharp five] chord played over F (the root) on the bass:

    The Eb major seventh [sharp five] chord:

    F (the root):

    …which produces an overall F dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

    “Here Are All The Part Over Root Voicings Of The Dominant Thirteenth [Sharp Eleventh] Chord”

    C dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

    Db dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

    D dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

    Eb dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

    E dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

    F dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

    F# dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

    G dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

    Ab dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

    A dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

    Bb dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

    B dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

    Resolution Of The Dominant Thirteenth [Sharp Eleventh] Chord

    The dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord resolves to a major chord that is a fifth below its root. So, the C dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

    …resolves downwards by a fifth to F:

    …and that’s to the F major ninth chord:

    …or any other F major chord.

    Attention: The dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord also resolves to minor chords and I’ll be showing you how this works in a subsequent lesson.

    Final Words

    The Lydian dominant scale is a great source of melodic and harmonic ideas and we just got started with its harmony in this lesson.

    In a subsequent lesson, we’ll proceed into learning melodic lines ranging from licks, to runs, and more.

    Don’t forget to practice and master all the Lydian dominant scales on the keyboard and try your best to figure out a comfortable fingering to play the scales with.

    Thank you for your time.

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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