Harmonic Minor Modes: The Lydian #2

We've started working on the Harmonic Minor modes, and today we'll take a look at the Lydian #2. The main application for this scale is over a major seventh type of chord. Assuming you know your Major scale modes then you already have two ways to play over this type of harmony: the Major itself and the Lydian. Neither of these, though, is all that exciting.

For easy reference here are the CAGED fingerings exactly as they appear in the Encyclopoedia (white circles are triad arpeggio notes, and in particular white circles with black dots are roots):

The Harmonic Minor group provides a nice variation on the Lydian, which is exactly the same except for that raised second note. Here's a very simple run in A, which you should ideally play over an Amaj7 chord to get the whole sound:


The real interest comes from the #2, which you can also think of as a flat 3 and which contrasts nicely with the major third in the chord. I'm emphasising that at the end of the run above, but for to clarify the sound try this run in the same position:


This little lick also does something I always enjoy, which is singling out some of the notes separated by semitones -- in this case the #2 and 3 and the #4 and 5. With the root added to them they make a pentatonic scale that's a subset of the Lydian #2. This approach can help you to break out of that straight-up-and-down playing that plagues many beginning soloists.

As with the Dorian #4, the arpeggio I like best in this scale is probably the dominant seventh, which this time is built on the major seventh of the underlying chord. Here it is in the A-shape pattern up at the 12th fret (you really must hear this over the Amaj7 chord for it to make any sense):


and of course, since this is a mode of the Dorian #4, it shouldn't be surprising that the dominant arpeggio can also be played as an augmented triad:


As a little added extra, if we sharpen the 6 of the Lydian #2 we get a scale I call Rasikapriya, after the Carnatic melakata of the same name. All you're doing visually is taking the E-shaped pattern we played at the fifth fret at the very beginning and moving two notes. In the diagram below, the red notes are what we play if we're playing Lydian #2 and the green notes are what they become when the scale becomes Rasikapriya:

Now the Rasikapriya scale is a whole new heptatonic with seven modes in its group, so there are plenty more resources here for us to play with. We might do that in a future lesson but, for now, if you're getting familiar with the Lydian #2 try throwing in a few Rasikapriya phrases along with it.


Even with only one note altered, Rasikapriya sounds very different from the Lydian #2, and much more "exotic". As well as over major 7 chord it fits nicely over dominant 7s. Try it and see what you can come up with.