The Intriguingly Exotic Sound Of The C Lydian Hexatonic Scale


In two older String Theory columns (March and April 2015 issues), I introduced a pair of hexatonic (six-note) scales that are comprised of the same six notes and may be thought of as opposing sides of the same musical coin—the dark, serious-sounding E minor hexatonic (E F# G A B D) and its one useful mode, the beautifully bright D major hexatonic (D E F# G A B).


For further study, try playing the same notes in different positions and octaves, using the various E minor hexatonic fretboard patterns I presented in the March 2015 issue as a guide. Every time you switch to C Lydian hexatonic, move every B note up one fret to C. (To create more of an Iron Maiden–style harmony-leads figure, try omitting the two highest pitches in each repeating sequence and play the remaining eight lower notes as two beats of 16ths in 4/4 meter.)

Another helpful way to think of C Lydian hexatonic is C and D major triads combined: C E G + D F# A = C D E F# G A.


4 show inversions of these two triads “leapfrogging” each other up the neck on trios of adjacent strings. As with the Em and D triads we looked at in the previous two columns, these figures can serve as highly useful references for building harmony leads.

C Lydian hexatonic may also be conveniently reckoned as the C Lydian mode (C D E F# G A B) minus the seventh, B. The advantage of using C Lydian hexatonic instead of C Lydian is that its sparser architecture gives you a more “open,” pentatonic-like sound while retaining C Lydian’s signature note—the raised, or “sharped,” fourth, F#. And, as we saw in

FIGURE 2, with an even number of notes, the hexatonic scale works well with 16th-note and sextuplet phrasing. Try using it with wailing string bends and legato articulations to get a soulful, Gilmour-meets-Page lead sound, as demonstrated in


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The Intriguingly Exotic Sound of the C Lydian Hexatonic Scale
The Cambridge Companion to