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jnorris235
01-26-2017, 04:49 AM
Bit of a beginner, but came across a Ukulelehunt article on these different scales.
I understand how to use just the notes in the particular scale but is there an easy way to work out which chords could be used? A blues scale usually uses 7th chords, which I know the shape of. But to use chords over an Arabic or other weird scale do you just have to go through a chord chart crossing out those with notes not in the scale?
I think I'm asking a sensible question.........

ubulele
01-26-2017, 10:06 AM
Hmm, "easy" is a relative term, and I tend to err on the side of too much detail, but bear with me here.

For Lydian scale, there is indeed a relatively simple way, since it uses the same diatonic pattern as the major and minor scales, just shifted. Consequently, the natural chords in the key exactly match the set for the related major and minor keys, just associated with different scale degrees. For instance, F Lydian is a relative mode of C major, and its scale includes the same set of seven pitches: (C D E) F G A B C D E F (...). Therefore, the I chord in Lydian mode matches the IV chord of major mode: they're both major triads, which extend into maj7 seventh chords. Here's how all seven Lydian degrees map out compared to the major scale, with the associated triad and 7th types for each degree:

Lydian Major Triad Seventh
I IV major maj7
II V major 7
III VI minor m7
IV VII mb5 = m7b5 (mb5 = the diminished triad)
V I major maj7
VI II minor m7
VII III minor m7

To figure out the key signature for a Lydian scale, either go down a fourth (five semitones) or up a fifth (seven semitones). The Lydian scale will share the same key signature as the major scale built on that note. For instance, a fifth below D is A, so D Lydian has the same key signature as A major: 3 sharps (F#, C#, G#). Consequently, you'd expect these diatonic chords in D Lydian:
I = D[maj7]
II = E[7]
III = F#m[7]
IV = G#mb5 or G#
V = A[maj7]
VI = Bm[7]
VII = Cm[7]

Of course, as we know from major and minor scales, other chord qualities may be substituted for the ones above; particularly, we might use V7 in place of Vmaj7 to increase the pull to the I chord, or for the IV degree we may either use a less dissonant chord type or substitute the more dissonant and ambiguous dim7 for the natural 7th m7b5 (the "half-diminished" chord, also notated ""). The degree matching the diminished triad is usually a bugaboo for the various diatonic modes. In Lydian mode, the IV chord, usually one of the central chords in a key, gets mapped to the diminished triad, so II is often substituted for IV instead. (In major mode, II is classed as a "subdominant" type of chord, along with the true subdominant, IV, so even in major mode you find these two chords substituted for each other in function.)

You'll find similar correspondences between the other "standard" diatonic modes and major mode:
Dorian: I corresponds to the relative major's II, etc. The relative major tonic is a whole step below, so G Dorian shares the same key signature and chord set with F major.
Phrygian: I corresponds to major III, etc.; the relative major tonic is a major third (four semitones) below.
Mixolydian: I corresponds to major V, etc.; the relative major tonic is a fourth (five semitones) above.
Aeolian (= natural minor): I corresponds to major VI: the relative major tonic is a minor third (three semitones) above.
Locrian (rarely used): I corresponds to major VII, etc.; the relative major tonic is a half-step above.

Let me also warn you that some pundits with a superficial understanding of tonality, modes and harmonic development will tell you "Lydian harmony is the same as major harmony, but you start the scale in the middle—it's all the same key." Don't buy it. This view disregards the many defining features of modes, such as tonic departure and return (both melodically and harmonically), frequency of chord usage, common progressions, common substitutions and alterations (as mentioned above) and the many other behavioral idiosyncrasies that have crept in over generations. So while identifying the natural, shared diatonic chord set is an excellent and necessary starting point, actual Lydian harmony goes much deeper and significantly departs from major harmony. The same applies to every other mode. The "all the same key" view may have held when modes first came into existence, but is nothing but a historical footnote in relation to modern practice, and has been for centuries.


Harmony for scales like Arabic, Hungarian and Indian ones (or the blues scales) gets complicated because they may contain scale steps larger than a whole step, and some third intervals that result when you skip over notes in the scale pattern have sizes larger or smaller than the minor and major thirds used in the "standard" diatonic pattern. When that happens, the derived triads can be either dissonant or modally ambiguous (having no minor or major third). In practice, the underlying harmonies can be regularized by substituting notes not in the scales, but as these substitutions are arbitrary, you end up with a richer assortment of harmonic alternatives—as indeed we see in the regular minor mode, where the treatment of the 6th and 7th scale degrees is rather fluid. Another complication is that some scales may include more than seven pitches (ignoring the octave)—how, then, do you build up the chords? Of course, one solution is to use an approach similar to "power chords": you don't always need a full triad or seventh. With altered scales like these, the focus tends to be on rich melodic and rhythmic improvisation, not on complex harmonic backing.

A similar thing happens in gapped scales (pentatonic and hexatonic, meaning they have five or six notes only): for harmonies, you often have to fill the gaps somehow, but exactly how you do it is arbitrary, and can change upon each instance.

So as you see, you've asked a very good question, but there is no simple answer except with relative modes of major and minor, like Lydian.

Interestingly, at the other extreme we have the diminished and whole-tone scales. With the two diminished scale patterns, which alternate whole and half steps (for instance, C Db Eb E F# G A Bb C and C D Eb F Gb Ab A B C), every third interval is a minor third, so the derived triads on every degree are diminished triads, while all the sevenths are diminished sevenths. Similarly, all the thirds in the whole tone scale (like C D E F# G# A# C) are major thirds, so all the triads are augmented triads and all the seventh intervals would be unisons with the octave, devolving the seventh chords into augmented triads as well. Sticking to these natural chords would be boring indeed—though when interjected into songs in other scales, diminished or whole-tone scale passages can be quite effective.

YarraJoe
01-26-2017, 11:04 AM
Bit of a beginner, but came across a Ukulelehunt article on these different scales.
I understand how to use just the notes in the particular scale but is there an easy way to work out which chords could be used? A blues scale usually uses 7th chords, which I know the shape of. But to use chords over an Arabic or other weird scale do you just have to go through a chord chart crossing out those with notes not in the scale?
I think I'm asking a sensible question.........

You might not like this, but time to jump into some music theory. Have a look at the Michael New channel on YouTube, he has a long but very approachable vid on just what your looking for it's called 'How to turn a Mode into music'

Alytw
01-26-2017, 12:02 PM
What an amazing explanation. Thank you ubulele, very well explained.

jnorris235
01-26-2017, 12:06 PM
Thank you ubulele. I put your reply into Google Translate, but it couldnt do anything with it. So I'll follow yarrajoe's advice!
But seriously ubulele i need to really work through what you said and it looks like a useful and interesting layer to my uke playing will result. I do like fiddling around and want to understand just why there are different scales, the deeper understanding. Thank you for your time!

YarraJoe
01-26-2017, 01:20 PM
Thank you ubulele. I put your reply into Google Translate, but it couldnt do anything with it. So I'll follow yarrajoe's advice!
But seriously ubulele i need to really work through what you said and it looks like a useful and interesting layer to my uke playing will result. I do like fiddling around and want to understand just why there are different scales, the deeper understanding. Thank you for your time!

Theory is interesting and very useful, the biggest challenge is finding someone that can explain it in a way that clicks with you personally. For me I'm a visual spatial learner so what might take pages of text and my brain throbbing and probably wandering off, I find I can really quickly understand with the simplest of diagrams. If your like that then you will get plenty out of Michael's videos.

jnorris235
01-27-2017, 12:04 AM
I watched one of his a while ago and didnt understand a word. However I progress rather like a game of Tetris. Eventually all the bits fall into place, one hopes. Watched again last night and, bingo! Getting there! Need to free myself from the piano interface to the ukulele one so it becomes a natural feel.

jnorris235
01-27-2017, 12:15 AM
I'm making lots of notes and rewriting to help me remember. One minute I'm using # and the next b. And i know I should by now recognize G# as Ab, and it probably matters - but isnt it easier just to use the # throughout? I noticed that the blues scale has a flattened 5th whicb I guess isnt the same as a sharpened fourth. But in some modes, I could see the pattern more easily if G# was always G# and not sometimes Ab...

Booli
01-27-2017, 04:17 AM
Ubulel and Bill -

I love that your explanations with the full application of theory are so detailed. I just wish I had the patience to read and digest it all now. Sadly, my time and attention are always cut short nowadays.

Please do not let my failures to absorb this information ever stop you, they are both welcome and necessary.

Eventually I will revisit the theory side of the music myself and when I do, your posts will become very useful to me at that time.

Kudos to you both for sharing your experience and knowledge. :)

Sharpshin
01-27-2017, 04:18 AM
Ubulele,
Your post is clear, and though it pushes way past my atom sized bubble of knowledge...my bubble just got a wee bit bigger and the horizon is broadened. I appreciate the time, effort, and thought you put into your answer to the OP.

jnorris235
01-27-2017, 04:44 AM
Bill1: The only bit I havent connected with is the pre- and the penultimate para. I have my scale of E major, construct the Lydian A from that, but you got the chords from the C template F,A,C,E - shouldnt this be from the Lydian A mode which is A B C# D# E F# G# A. And therefor be A,C#,E,G? Please tell me just to go away and study if I'm missing the whole concept!

TheCraftedCow
01-27-2017, 05:31 AM
THANK YOU !!! What a pleasure to read something written for someone who seriously wants to know. Sometimes frets are wonderful, and other times they are an impediment.

ubulele
01-27-2017, 08:51 AM
Ubulel and Bill -

I love that your explanations with the full application of theory are so detailed. I just wish I had the patience to read and digest it all now. Sadly, my time and attention are always cut short nowadays.

Thanks! In rereading what I wrote, I realize that I took what is probably a harder tack for a learner. For instance, if you have a major scale like G major, and you want a Lydian scale on the same tonic, you just add the next sharp to the key signature (or cancel a flat, in flat keys); the note to sharpen or cancel will be the 4th one in the scale:
G A B C D E F# (G), with one sharp
becomes
G A B C# D E F# (G), with two sharps
and the relative major scale will then be the one that starts on the 5th note of the Lydian (or original major) scale: D major, in this case. So if you know all the diatonic chords in the key of D major, you'll pretty much use the same set for G Lydian harmony—and the same key signature and set of scale notes. However, this won't tell you which chords you'll use most frequently, or the most characteristic progressions or harmonic alterations (just as, in minor mode, we often substitute a major V7 chord for the minor Vm or Vm7 chord that is the unaltered derivative); these will differ from both G major harmony and D major harmony. Still you get the derived chord set, which is a big head start to learning the mode more thoroughly, and there are a lot of overlaps with D major harmony.

So I'm writing up what I hope to be a more understandable approach, coming at it from a different direction and using Mixolydian as the main example mode, since this is used frequently in rock, country and pop music, whereas Lydian is not. I'll probably post this in a separate thread, so it will be easier to locate and reference in the future.