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I would like to point out that the Roman numerals used are for identifying the relationship to the Lydian parent scale or Lydian tonic. They have no value for the purpose of harmonic analysis. This is an attempt to create chord categories and be able to quickly find the Lydian tonic or parent scale.

I also want to point out that this is a discussion of melodies against chord changes in diatonic major and minor progressions. This discussion may not apply to many types of music such as modal melodies and more abstract concepts. I consider these vertical melodic situations. You are choosing, for the most part, one scale, of a particular coloring, for each chord. This is what is meant by playing vertically or "playing the changes". Horizontal playing is when you block out key centers in a progression to a tune and then play off of the major scale or blues scale, almost modally, until the key center changes. When it changes you of course move to the next major or blues scale of that new key center. I am not interested in covering that here, although it has great value in adding variety to your melodic improvisations, I will only be discussing playing melodies over changes vertically.

There are three sections. G Lydian, G Lydian Diminished (G Lydian with a b3rd), Bb Lydian Augmented (Bb Lydian with a #5th). G Lydian is a parent Scale for Maj7th and IIm7 to V7. A Parent scale is the most consonant scale that supports melodies to be played against the given chord.

The purpose is to discuss how melodies are best represented in this fashion. I used Bb Lydian Augmented because it gives a scale for the diatonic IIm7b5 in the same key as the IIm7 in the G Lydian Scale. These are two different colorings for the same chords. The similarity I want to point out is the difference in colors using Bb Lydian Augmented or G Lydian Diminished for Em7b5.

Section I:
IIm7 to V7 in Dmajor is the tonal center. The same scales and melodies can be used for Gmaj7, but my discussion is of the IIm7 to V7.

Of course you can play a Dmajor scale, E dorian, and A mixolydian modes for these chords.
I am sure many try to hear the different modes and their characteristics against the chord progressions, but the basic melodies we play over changes does not change. The tonal gravity stays the same. Em7 to A7 is the sub-dominate moving to the dominate. The basic sound is a G major triad with the 5th D resolving to the 3rd C# of an A triad over a moving base in a cycle of fiths. Basic voice leading.

Melodies played strictly in Dmajor, with or without chromatic embellishment, sound as a G triad to A triad or a G triad resolving to a G with C# giving a movement from Em7 to A9 (G triad with C# spelled GBC#. When A is in the base it sounds like A9). The GBC# has the tri-tone in it G, C# supporting the sound of A7. Although we use this for an A9th chord this is the distinctive sound of G Lydian and melodies in a G Lydian scale. As to wether we have G, E, or A in the bass leads our ears to accept which chord it sounds like.

Have you ever noticed those fake books that have the right voices but the wrong bass notes? Like Cm7b5 to F7b9 in place of Ebm7 to Ab7. This is an easy error to make if you are transcribing from a recording where the bass is very melodic and not always playing roots, or just walking bass lines that are again melodic and not playing the roots on one all the time. So the point is we hear and play the same melodies against a variety of different roots, and these melodies create tension and release moving from sub-dominate to dominate.

Take Gm7 C7 Fmaj7 using Bb Lydian for the Gm7 C7 and F Lydian for Fmaj7. For the same F Lydian scale you can use Dm7 G7 which creates IIm7 V7 chords in a backwards cycle of fifths. Keep in mind the backwards cycle of fifths. This is very meaningful. Now take the bridge to The Night Has 1000 Eyes in the key of F (sorry I like to play it in F). Bbm7 /Eb7 /AbMaj / /Abm7 /Db7 /GbMaj / /Bbm7....
Bbm7 /Eb7 /Fm7 /Bb7 /Abm7 /Db7 /Ebm7 /Ab7 /Bbm7.....
This does make an interesting substitution, but what I really have in mind is playing melodies for the IIm7 V7 in the same Lydian scale in place of the I chords. Playing this way gets you away from coming to rest when resolving your melody and adds variety to you phrases.

For another way to hear and get closer to the sub-dominate to dominate sounds try an A peddle tone and play a G triad against it. Now move the D to C# back and forth This is a dominant peddle used for turn a-rounds in bebop and a very traditionally Latin sound when doing this in a Latin Rhythmic scheme.

So generally I hear and play melodies around a G triad resolving to an A7 or just changing the emphasis to the C#. If you play Em7 to A7 melodies it does not really mater where or when you play the C# unless the melody you are playing places an importance on the A7 being heard on a specific beat.
This is true when playing unaltered sounds for Em7 to A7. Of course there are many times when you want to play the A7 as an altered chord such as A7#5 or A7b9#5 etc. I am only discussing the basic sound of melodies for IIm7 to V7 here not any altered chords.
And keep in mind all the melodies you hear and play can be chromatically embellished around this basic sound just as you play none chord tones to embellish the melodies of the chord tones. So you can also treat the whole G Lydian scale as the structure you are embellishing with chromatic tones, not just embellishing the chord tones. This should give a great amount of flexibility to the way you hear and play melodies.

Start by playing melodies primarily using G triads and then embellish with none chord tones. Then embellish chromatically. Second, play melodies using all the notes of the G Lydian scale and embellish them chromatically.

Section II:

The G Lydian Diminished is named this due to the flatted 3rd scale degree. Since the G Lydian scale is the parent, most consonant sound, for Em7 and A7 flating the 3rd scale degree is just adding a flatted 9th to A7 and a flated 5th to Em7. This is the parent scale for these two chords. It works very well for A11b9 to A7b9 as a dominate peddle also.

All the melodies and concepts for creating melodies from a G Lydian scale are exactly the same. Instead of playing off of a G traid it is a G minor Triad. This also expresses the IIm7b5 (Em7b5) with a natural 9th, not flatted, to a V13b9 (A13b9) for use in minor keys. Granted there is usually a F natural in the key of Dminor, but I am concerned with the consonant sound for each chord not the key of the music. This supports the extensions for each chord and harmonic movement towards the tonic of the key of the music.

The G Lydian Diminished contains the same intervals as in the D Harmonic minor A Bb C# D. The F# makes for a strong resolution to Dmaj7 as well as a strong leading tone to resolve to the F natural in Dminor.

Since we are playing off of the IVm triad in the key of the music, Gm in the key of D or Dminor, instead of the IV, G in the Key of D, we can get a bluesy or minor sound either superimposed over Dmajor or Dminor. It can also be very exotic. The purpose is to have a minor version of everything we can do with the G Lydian scale and this also expresses the IVm6 chord in minor keys.

In these first two sections we are using the same Lydian scale for both the IIm7 and the V7 chord. First in the major key and then in the minor. This is a real basic approach and has limitations. You will learned to hear a lot, but you end up playing the same sounds all the time. It's really the same as play major scales and has just the most consonant colorings for the chords.

Section III will open up the V7alt tri-tone substitution, and playing different scales for the IIm7 and the V7 in major and minor keys.

Section III:

The heading for this section is the equivalency of these chords.
Em7b5,9,11 C7,9,#11,13 F#7Altered (tri-tone substitute for C7) and the minor IV chord Gm6. We can throw in BbMaj7#5 but we are not covering that here. The alter dominate 7th is F#7,b5,#5,b9,#9.

These chords are all equivalent and just have different bass notes. They are all expressed by the Bb Lydian Augmented Scale (G melodic minor) which is each chords parent Lydian scale being the most consonant sound supporting the altered notes and extensions.

The C7,9,#11,13 can use all or some of the extensions and really came into use in bebop. When you have a V7 chord that does not resolve it became very common to use this melodic device to play melodies that sort of hang or don't resolve. There will never be another you:
Eb / /Dm7b5 /G7 /Cm7 / /Bbm7 /Eb7 /AbMaj7 /Abm7 Db7/Gm7 /Cm7 /F9 / /
Fm7 /Bb7 //

The F9 chord is a pause. The movement continues when the progression reaches Fm7 to Bb7. This is where to use F9#11 and play the Eb Lydian Augmented scale (C melodic minor). This is just one use.

If you want an altered sound after the IIm7 to stretch the tonality, alter the sound, and create more melodic and harmonic tension before reaching a I chord, you can substitute bII7 in place of the V7 chord. Using Bb Lydian instead of Lydian Augmented creates a problem. There is no F# in Bb Lydian and F natural is the Major 7th of F#. The Bb Lydian Augmented scale Bb,C,D,E,F#,G,A,Bb solves the problem in this situation. In the key of C Dm7 G7 supper imposing bII7 (Db7) over the G7 gives you the altered sound of G7. If you change the bass note also to Db you change the progression and substitute the bII7 the tri-tone substitution. So you would play the B Lydian Augmented or Cb Lydian Augmented (Ab melodic minor) scale. See the relationships building.

Abm7 Db9 in place of G7 with the #7 or not on Abm and the #11 or not on Db9. If you go so far as to change the chord progression you change the situation and no longer have to worry about the #7 on Abm7. You just change the chords completely. Supper imposing the substitution over the G7 though maters. Of course if you play it right or well, whatever, it doesn't mater either. Rules were meant to be broken through understanding of the relationships. If it sounds right and you hear it right it will work right, and everyone will believe you.

So try Dm7 G7/Abm7 Db7/ in place of the IIm7 to G7. Or just get the tension on the V7 chord by playing melodies for Dm7 and then Db7,9,#11 in place of the G7. So you play F Lydian for Dm7 and B Lydian Augmented (Ab melodic minor) for G7 getting a G7#5b9 sound. If you spell the G7altered chord it's G,Ab,Bb,B,C#/Db,D#/Eb,F,G this covers the root, 3rd, 7th, b5, #5, b9, #9 and it is B Lydian with a raised 5th (Ab melodic minor). It's difficult intellectually to do this while playing but reasonable to think of substituting the bII7 and the scale that fits it. The B Lydian scale with raised 5th adjusts the scale to fit both the bII7 (Db7) and V7altered (G7altered), and it just happens to be the melodic minor scale (Ab melodic minor). This is not an accident it is a cosmic epiphany, or whatever you want to call it. So is the backwards cycle of fifths.

Now how does the IIm7b5 work. It is the +IV of the Lydian scale. It is a II chord in the minor key and is the same spelling as the IVm6 a minor IV chord. Also notice the +IVm7b5 VII7 is a substitute for Imaj7. In this case Em7b5 A7b9 for BbMaj7 (Stella by Starlight) and they are all in the same Bb Lydian Augmented scale.

So take Gm7 (IIm7 in F) and move it up a minor 3rd you get Bbm6 or Bbm7 the minor IV chord in the key of F. Change the Ab to an A natural and you get a scale that fits Gm7b5,9,11 for your minor II chord. Notice the minor third relationship. Another cosmic epiphany. And the scale is Db Lydian Augmented (Bb melodic minor notice Bb is IV in F). If you pair up Gm7 C7 and Bbm7 Eb7 because of this one and two note differences you get a very close relationship. IIm7 V7 and IVm7 bVII7. Now add the tri-tone substitution of F#7/Gb7 for C7 and do the same for it you get C#m7 F#7 and Em7 A7. Now just look at the dominate 7ths we have.
C7 - Eb7 - Gb7/F#7 - A7 give them all b9ths and call then diminished chords and C#o7 - Eo7 - Go7 - Bbo7 all four dominate 7th are diminished substitutes for each other and they are a minor third apart. This is no accident but another cosmic epiphany. There are only 12 7th chords and they can be organized into 3 different diminished chords Co7, C#o7, and Do7. Each set of four is spelled the same within the set. So the IIm7 V7's are also in the sets. Over time as I noticed this I started playing the exact same melodies for A7 as C7, Eb7, Gb7 and the respective IIm7, IVm6, IIm7b5's. This is worth leveraging.

Now that we have looked at the three sections we can see a means to choose consonant parent scales for common progressions, relationships between progressions in different keys of a backward cycle of fifths and minor thirds, and equivalency of all chords contained in the same harmonized scale weather it is Lydian, Lydian Augmented, or Lydian Diminished. I know we didn't look at Lydian diminished as much but the concepts are the same you just change the Lydian scale to Lydian Diminished to use the minor II etc or just for a different coloring in the major keys.

We can also see that all the chords are basically the same in the same harmonized scale and that we are changing the emphasis and usage by changing the bass note. This gets real interesting if you use this as a rule for substitutions and stretch into the minor thirds concept and the backwards cycle of fiths. We didn't look at all the chords in the harmonized scales but the concept will hold true if you write it out. I have started it for you.

Page Last Updated: November 3, 2005 | Email: cgrey0224@comcast.net

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