How often have we heard this?
Teacher: Do you know what the C lydian scale is?
Student: That’s the same as the G major scale, right?
It’s useful to know that a C lydian scale has the same notes as a G major scale.
But I find it much more useful to know that a C lydian scale is a C major scale with its fourth note raised a half step… and a shame that many people focus on the first way of thinking at the expense of the second.
After all, if your goal is to make melodies that sound like they’re in the key of C, doesn’t thinking in G make that difficult? By contrast, thinking of C lydian as C major with a raised fourth not only lets you keep the correct root in mind, but tells you about the sound of the scale—namely, one notch “brighter” than major, because the sharp eleven replaces the natural four.
I thought of a slogan while I was teaching a student this evening:
There’s a reason why Bach didn’t name his B Minor Mass
“The D Major Mass Starting on B”
What do you think? :)