Lydian Scales

In medieval and modern music, the Lydian mode is a diatonic (seven-note) scale or musical mode which corresponds to the white keys of the piano from F to F. It may be considered an “excerpt” of a major scale played from the pitch a perfect fourth above the major scale's tonic, i.e., a major scale played from its fourth scale degree up to its fourth degree again. If we build a chord on the tonic, third and fifth, it is still a major chord.

The Lydian mode is actually equivalent to the major scale but with the fourth degree raised by a semitone.

Care must be exercised in identifying songs or pieces based in Lydian mode. It is common for listeners to confuse Lydian mode, particularly at the beginning of a piece, with an extended section based on the subdominant chord in a major key. So, for example, a piece in C major with a heavy emphasis on the chord of F major before the C tonality has been convincingly established, could be heard as centering around F, with a raised fourth.

Some notable compositions in Lydian mode:

  • “Messe in der lydische Tonart” (Mass in the Lydian Mode) by Simon Sechter
  • String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132 by Ludwig van Beethoven, titled by the composer “Heiliger Dankgesang eines Genesenen an die Gottheit, in der lydischen Tonart” (“Holy Song of Thanksgiving by a Convalescent to the Divinity, in the Lydian Mode”)
  • “Os justi” by Anton Bruckner

Two-octave Lydian scales are also available: PDF

F LydianF Lydian scale
Bb LydianBb Lydian scale
Eb LydianEb Lydian scale
Ab LydianAb Lydian scale
Db LydianDb Lydian scale
Gb LydianGb Lydian scale
Cb LydianCb Lydian scale
Fb LydianFb Lydian scale
F# LydianF# Lydian scale
B LydianB Lydian scale
E LydianE Lydian scale
A LydianA Lydian scale
D LydianD Lydian scale
G LydianG Lydian scale
C LydianC Lydian scale