The major scale may get all the attention, but have you been introduced to its close relative, the Lydian scale? Enjoying the show? Please consider rating and reviewing it! Rate and Review! It was fascinating to learn from him all about this way of thinking about music. Welcome to the show, Andrew.
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The major scale may get all the attention, but have you been introduced to its close relative, the Lydian scale? Enjoying the show? Please consider rating and reviewing it! Rate and Review! It was fascinating to learn from him all about this way of thinking about music. Welcome to the show, Andrew. Thanks for coming back to share a little bit about this fascinating topic. Christopher: Get us started from the beginning. What is the Lydian Chromatic Concept, and where did it come from?
He was hanging out in the forties and fifties with all the great jazz innovators of that time. He was himself a French horn player, playing some jazz French horn; but he was very interested in theory and in the new movements in jazz. One day he was talking with Miles Davis, and he asked what his goals were. He pondered in what would it be to play all the changes? He came up with a different kind of a music theory. Most of music theory that we have right now explains how … Musicians will do something.
He came up with this concept, the Lydian Chromatic Concept, based on a new picture of scales and chords. Andrew: Yes. George called it a unified field theory of music, which is something that…. Something physicists have been after right now to try and unite quantum physics with Einsteinian physics, and make one theory that explains everything. Christopher: Well, certainly I think you can see it as the one model to rule them all. We better dive in and talk about what exact this Lydian Chromatic Concept is.
What does it have to do? What does it have to do with what some of our listeners may already be familiar with, which is the Lydian mode? Andrew: Okay. Well, the Lydian mode is a very particular scale, and a lot of times we learn the Lydian mode in reference to the major scale.
So if you have a scale like we usually think of a scale, like a C major scale. Going up and down in steps, but of course those notes can be played in any order. Going up and skipping up in thirds. Similarly, you can play them with fifths. Now, if you look at the circle of fifths, … the fifth is a fundamental interval in nature. You hear a fifth, it has that hollow kind of resonant sound to it. The circle of fifths is organized in this way according to this interval.
If I play … a scale in the order of fifths, if I went all perfect fifths going from C. Christopher: So what you did was you started from the note C, and without any regard to key signatures, or scales, or anything like that, you just took this fundamental interval of a fifth. You went up a fifth from a C to get to a G, and then you did it again from G to get to a D, and so on, until you had seven notes to build your scale with. You put them all within one octave.
You just collapsed them down into one octave, and that produced your Lydian scale. Is that right? Like if you go back in time, back like in the Middle Ages, in the Renaissance, a third was actually considered a dissonance.
The consonant intervals were the ones that were these pure mathematical ratios, which were octaves and fifths. Then, a fourth, which was the inverted fifth. They have that resonant quality. Christopher: As you pointed out there, the one real difference between those two is just one note.
Christopher: Just play up and down those first four notes for us, if you would? I think that creates a real mood that does not sound like a major scale.
The idea that there is a tonal gravity wrapped up in all this. Can you tell us what that is and how it relates to this fourth note changing? Andrew: Absolutely. We talk about … A lot of times, we talk about the tonic.
The tonic is, in any scale, is usually the first note. In any interval, if you really listen carefully. This is a great ear training exercise. For example, if I play … a second, just going from C to D, and then I come back … it resolves back down to the C.
It resolves to the lower note in the interval. If I look at a major scale, I mean at a Lydian scale, rather. Every interval in this scale. It has a very restful quality and feeling to it, the Lydian scale. So it has this very space-y, relaxed thing. Now, if we look at the major scale, we have that interval of the fourth. Now the fourth … resolves upward. All the other intervals are resolving down, except that fourth. I remember when I was first learning music, that sounded like such a music theory word.
It sounded like complex Roman numerals, and classical music analysis. What Andrew was saying there was that in the Lydian scale, any pair of intervals from the root note are going to resolve back to that bottom note. Andrew, maybe you could just demonstrate that perfect fourth and augmented fourth comparison for us, so we can hear that resolution in one direction versus the other. Andrew: Yes, yes. Very well said, Christopher.
If I go to … the fourth, it resolves up. Ba-dum, makes this a real solid beginning to a melody. Now, the … when I come down, it wants to go back up to that F. It wants to come back up and resolve to the F. It just hangs out there. Can you explain that a little bit? Andrew: Yeah. Diatonic simply means two tonics. The diatonic scale has two strong centers of tonal gravity, which is the root and then the fourth degree. What happens is that the major scale is a very restless scale.
It can just can go on forever, this idea of tension and resolution, tension and resolution, tension and resolution. You have this kind of a … thing in Western music. Until then, there was all these various modes that were used. You have the age of exploration. You have the Renaissance. You have the Reformation. Christopher: Fantastic. Well, I know that when I first learned about this stuff from Andrew, it blew my mind a little bit.
I think a lot of us take the major scale for granted, as kind of the base scale that everything else comes from. The Lydian scale is a lot more balanced, and tranquil, and has that single tonic. I hope this has set off some new thoughts in your heads and sparked some inspiration maybe. Andrew: Well, my first suggestion is just to explore it. The Lydian scale is the center rather than the major scale. How can you learn more about it? The first thing is just to play with it. Then, go online, do some research about it.
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About the Lydian Chromatic Concept
This innovative band leader, influential composer, legendary educator and philosophically profound master of music devoted 50 years of tireless, purposeful development in forging and generously disseminating his visionary theoretical system. Maestro Russell's singular world-renowned theory reveals an objective, illuminating vista of interrelated and boundless insights into what music is telling us about its own innate nature and reciprocal architectonics. His hard-cover book, the fourth edition can be ordered directly from Concept Publishing through Amazon. Scroll down to the very bottom of this page to read a collection of selected wisdom quotes by many Jazz master innovators who either played in Mr. Russell's ensembles, collaborated with him or studied "The Concept" with him.
The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization
What is the aim of the Lydian Chromatic Concept? What is the primary difference between the Lydian Chromatic Concept and all other theories of music? What is Tonal Gravity? Why is the Lydian Scale of paramount importance in this Concept? What is the fundamental difference between the Lydian and Major Scale? What is a Lydian Chromatic Scale?
Russell's work postulates that all music is based on the tonal gravity of the Lydian mode. Russell believed that dominant function was the driving force behind all harmonic motion. Russell focuses on the Lydian mode because it can be built with fifths. For instance, to construct a C Lydian scale one could list the first seven tones on the circle of fifths starting with C, the desired Lydian Tonic. Russell builds a prototype chromatic scale starting on the Lydian Tonic by stacking fifths, skipping the interval between the seventh and eighth tones. Thus the Lydian Chromatic Scale and all its derivatives contain only Pythagorean intervals. Russell posited that tonal gravity emanates from the first seven tones of the Lydian mode.