Lydian "The 5 Key"

After going thru my previous lessons (especially Master Class, Part I), you should now be getting familiar with how to control the resolved and unresolved sounds found in a key. Let's take this a step further by seeing how one key can affect the sound of another.

Let's look at the relationship between the key of C and the key of G

(I Key)      (R)
Key of C     CMaj7, Dmi7, Emi7, FMaj7, G7, Ami7, Bmi7b5	 
(V Key)                         (U)
Key of G     GMaj7, Ami7, Bmi7, CMaj7, D7, Emi7, F#mi7b5

*The only difference between these 2 keys is that the key of G has one # in it. The F#!

*Also note that both keys have a CMajor7 chord in them.

The CMaj7 is Resolved in the 1 key of C (the original key of the song you are playing in) and Unresolved in the 5 key of G (the major scale up a 5th from the current key your playing in). This means that a Major7 can have a #4 in it, and still be a Resolved chord. Since the CMaj7 in the key of G is Lydian, (or unresolved) then all the Chords in the Key of G are Resolved in relation to the key of C because there are no Fs in them just F#s.

When is the last time you used a F#mi7b5 for a CMaj7 as a substitute chord or just played it's arpeggio? Just think of the possibilities!

Let's look at this.

I Key C
CMaj7 [C,E,G,B] D,F,A 
F#mi7b5 [F#,A,C,E]G,B,D (7 chord from the Key of G can be a CMaj6#4) 
D7 [D,F#,A,C]E,A,B  (5 chord from the Key of G can be a CMaj69#4) 

As a rule, everything in the 5 Key is Resolved in whatever key your playing in. Any Maj7 can have a #4 in it and will still function as a Maj7 and if we call this Resolved, then any thing that can be played in the 5 key is Resolved and any combination using any of the remaining notes (the 4) is Unresolved.

For example, the notes in the key of G are. G,A,B,C,D,E,F# This could be a CMaj7#1169 or C,E,G,B,F#A,D and will still function as a CMaj7 of course having the entire scale in one chord is not practical, it is harmonically correct and will not violate the tone family.

Practice improvising over the following: II, V, I, I   Key of C
   (1 Key C major) (5 Key G major)
||:Dmi7 ///|G7 ///|CMaj7///|////:|| 

Try recording a steady C note pedal tone or a Cmaj7th chord then play and listen to each one of the 7 chords from the key of G over the recording. You will obviously hear Lydian. By refocusing your thinking towards the V Key it seems to be much easier for guitar players in particular to open up the neck and get a Lydian sound over any major7th chord being that they are instinctively so familiar with seeing everything from their major scale's patterns, arpeggios, and blues subs, etc. From an analytical standpoint it is much faster and simpler to identify which chord subs are available over the I Key by using this technique of finding the major key up a 5th and quickly rattling off the 7 chords from the root of it's harmonized scale.

Paul Nelson is a recording artist and top session player who tours with many inter-national acts. His guitar work has been heard nationally on NBC, WWF, TNN, and UPN television, and has been featured on countless CDs along side many of today's top guitarists.

Studying under Steve Vai, Steve Khan, and Mike Stern early on, he is
currently touring as part of the Johnny Winter Group as well as writing for and
playing on the Rock/Blues Legend's latest Virgin /EMI grammy nominated release. His
highly acclaimed solo CD (Guitar World, Guitar One, Vintage Guitar) entitled
"Look" has been released worldwide. Paul is an endorsement artist for Ernie
Ball, DiMarzio and Fender guitars. Visit:

Paul Nelson is a top session and touring artist with many international acts, his guitar work has been heard in the USA on NBC, TNN, and UPN television, and he has guest appeared on numerous CDs featuring many of today's top guitarists.

His solo CD is entitled "Look".

Paul Nelson