Another possible application to the whole tone scale, besides those we saw, is in the Lydian Dominant Mode.
“Gosh, now it became difficult! It screwed me up! I will not understand anything!”. Calm down, sure you will understand, it’s really simple. What is the Lydian scale? It’s a major scale with an augmented fourth. If you didn’t know that, it is just to check the Greek Modes; do this scale and observe it.
Let’s recap then. If the tonality is in C major, the chord of fourth degree is F7M and the Greek Mode used in F is the Lydian Mode. Until here, nothing is new.
Lydian Dominant Mode
If we change this seventh major of F7M for a seventh minor, we would have F7 chord. In this case, the scale that we used before (Lydian Mode) would have an alteration in the seventh degree (it would no longer be major, but minor). This new scale (Lydian with seventh minor) is called Lydian Dominant Scale, because the resulting chord became a dominant chord with seventh (F7).
Very well, the greatest result of all this is when the chord of fourth degree is a dominant chord, the scale in it has an augmented fourth (which comes from the Lydian Mode) and a seventh minor (which comes from the dominant structure), being really similar to the Hexatonic scale!
Actually, the only note that the Hexatonic scale has that is not in the Lydian dominant scale is the augmented fifth degree.
Similarity between Lydian Dominant and Hexatonic Scales
Compare below the F Lydian dominant scale with F Hexatonic scale:
- Notes of F Lydian Dominant: F, G, A, B, C, D, D#
- Notes of F Hexatonic: F, G, A, B, C#, D#
Due to this affinity, we conclude that the Hexatonic Scale can be used in Lydian dominant chords, as we wanted to show you!
Now let’s continue this reasoning. Where does the Lydian dominant chord come from? In which context does it exist?
It is always in the melodic minor harmonic field. Let’s see C melodic minor harmonic field:
Notice that the fourth degree is a major chord with seventh! (in other words, a Lydian dominant). Therefore, the Lydian dominant comes from the melodic minor context. This makes us to conclude some things. Take a breath, calm down and relax. Ready? Now we can go on.
We already saw that F Lydian dominant is the mode that fits in F7 when F is the fourth degree of the tonality. And what is the scale to be played in the first degree (Cm7M) in this case? It is C melodic minor, right? Because this harmonic field is created in this scale!
So my friend, this means that the Lydian Dominant Scale is the fourth mode of melodic minor scale. In other words, F Lydian dominant is the C melodic minor scale played starting in its fourth degree.
We are doing here the same thing we did in the Greek Modes, in other words, we are playing a scale starting from other degree that not the first. If is hard to understand, read again the article about Greek Modes and then return back here. The idea will be really clearer.
Let’s now compare the notes of C melodic minor with F Lydian dominant:
- Notes of C melodic minor: C, D, Eb, F, G, A, B
- Notes of F Lydian dominant: F, G, A, B, C, D, Eb
They are exactly the same notes. Have you noticed that C minor melodic scale is one fifth above F? Do you remember that we taught you how to use the melodic minor one fifth above the non altered dominant chords?
So then, there it is one application to this! F7 is a non altered dominant, right?! The moral of the story is this: Playing the melodic minor scale one fifth above a non altered dominant, we are doing this dominant sounds like it was a fourth degree Blues (IV7).
For example, we let’s suppose that we are improvising in this cadence:
| Dm7 | G7 | C |
The tonality here is C major, but in G7 we can play the D melodic minor scale, as we already know. Doing this, we are using G7 chord to “cheat” the listener making him/her that G7 is IV degree Blues. This is the same as thinking that tonality changed to D melodic minor (momentarily), where G7 is acting like fourth degree IV7 (and not as V7 of C anymore).
Of course that this is not the only explanation to use the melodic minor scale one fifth above the dominant. Many musicians prefer thinking that this D melodic minor scale creates an alteration (ninth flat) in G7 chord. Independently of the explanation that you will choose, the important is not to be restricted to only one train of thought, because sometimes we can explore hidden resources and create really attractive sonorities when thinking beyond the common sense. Never block your mind when the subject is music!
Melodic minor and Lydian dominant
Well, returning to the idea of Lydian dominant, due the fact that we are doing G7 sounds like IV7, we can also try playing the Hexatonic scale on it, because we already saw that there is more affinity between Hexatonic and Lydian dominant mode (IV7) that between Hexatonic and Mixolydian dominant (V7). Summarizing, when you apply the Hexatonic scale in a non altered dominant V7, try to mix your solo to the melodic minor scale one fifth above.
This combination sounds really good, because it renders the Hexatonic more attractive! The melodic minor one fifth above can make the V7 has another momentary function (IV7), which is more interesting to the Hexatonic. In practice, Hexatonic scale doesn’t use to appear alone, because the Lydian dominant chords (IV7) or augmented fourth dominants are not really common. So Jazz and Bossa Nova musicians like to put a small dose of Hexatonic mixed with other things (mainly the melodic minor one fifth above), to give this “taste” we explained. Many even don’t know the reason of this!
To finish this, notice that there are just two Hexatonic scales (C and C#); the other ones are identical to these two, starting in other degrees. This is really useful of observing when improvising, because it increases our field of vision. Instead of thinking in G Hexatonic, for example, you can think in D# Hexatonic, which is identical.
So, when you want to mix G Hexatonic and D melodic minor, for example, you can think in D melodic minor and D# Hexatonic (it is closer and better to see). Get the hint!
1.200 words later…
Well, the subject here burned our neurons! But the concept is not as complicated when we put the pieces together. With practice these concepts will go from your head to your veins!
We can guarantee that explanations like this one you will not find anywhere, even paying a lot for books and extensive bibliographies. It’s a great pleasure to Simplifying Theory team to scrutinize the details and reveal the hidden secrets behind many theory themes of music.
If this website has been useful for you, help us to divulge it so that we can improve even more!
To finish this topic, we will give you an example in Guitar Pro of the use of Hexatonic in an altered dominant chord.
The base, hexatonicscale.gpro, in D minor tonality and is made by the following chords:
| Em7(b5) | A7(#5) | Dm7(9) |
Try to create your own ideas and mix the A Hexatonic with D melodic minor scale in this example. Enjoy it!
Go to: IVm6 chord
Back to: Module 10