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Ok, this might very well be deemed as cheating, as not all that many bop players were playing over funk grooves, but hopefully you're starting to see the point of this series now. We're using bop as a starting point for our phrasing ideas and exploring all of these complex tonalities to twist the listeners ear. So in an unscheduled break from true bop we're going to take a look at my favourite guitarist - Scott Henderson, and a sound which is very common in his playing, the lydian dominant scale.



I would seriously recommend checking out Scott if you haven't really heard him before. He's an absolute master of jazz fusion and one hell of a filthy blues player. You should check out his fusion work with Tribal Tech on "Dr Hee" (if you like it a little 80's) or "Face First" (if you want something a little more modern and funky). His best work has to be on his three solo blues albums (I'm pretty sure the solo on "Dolemite" is the best guitar solo ever) - try his double disc live album to get a well rounded view of his playing in this setting. Aside from that, his DVD "Jazz Rock Mastery" is essential viewing. All together now - "Ed has sex with his girlfriend!" haha.

This isn't actually all that far removed from our last column (on melodic minor) as Lydian Dominant is one of the modes of the melodic minor scale. Now I'm not going to go into detail on modes, needless to say, if you don't understand them, we don't have time for it here. Just read on and learn the lick. For those of you that do understand modes well we'll be able to take a look at the two ways of playing modes and why I prefer to go the slightly harder route with it.

Lydian dominant (or Lydian b7) is the 4th mode of the melodic minor scale. E Lydian Dominant is mode 4 of B melodic minor.

B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A#, B = B melodic minor

E, F#, G#, A#, B, C#, D. E = E Lydian Dominant

The same pool of notes but with a different note functioning as the root, and therefore, an entirely different set of intervals.

R, 2, 3, #4, 5, 6, b7, R - The lydian scale but with a b7 (hence the name). This scale fits nicely over a dominant 7 chord, or a 7#11 (7b5). Think of it as a nice tonality you can use over a dominant chord that doesn't resolve up a 4th to the tonic of your key.

Above I have given you the fingerings for the scale in position 4 and 1. This brings us on nicely to modal visualization technique. Some of you may be wondering "if E lydian Dominant is B melodic minor then why not just play that?". This is certainly a valid question, and a method that many players employ. If you look closely - the position 4 shape is actually position 1 melodic minor.

The problem with this method is that you will tend to phrase as though you're playing over Bm, stressing the root (which is the 5th of our E7 chord) and the b3rd (which is the b7 of our E7 chord). There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but over the E7 wouldn't you prefer to target the 3rd, b7 and the #11? these are the important sounds right? I would recommend playing E melodic minor position 4 then E lydian dominant position 4 one after the other, and be aware of where each interval lives. You want to be able to see each of these scale in relation to their parent chord rather than having to go "well I want lydian dominant, thats mode 4 of melodic minor, so if i move down 5 frets and play melodic minor we should be ok." that's a long thought process if you ask me, and the only benefit I see is that you've found a short cut. If you cut corners though, you're only cheating yourself.

Above I have these scales played over our backing of E7 - listen closely to how this scale sounds against the chord. Its an infectious tonality to use when you're confident with it.

This is one of those tonalities where the key to using it is experimentation, I could sit here and show you licks all day but you'll never really absorb the sounds unless you spend hours becoming comfortable with the sound. Then you can call it up whenever you need it.

Before we go onto the lick, I just thought I better write out the slap guitar lick on the backing as I knew I'd get an email or two asking!

Notating slap guitar doesn't exactly have conventions, so I'll tell you here. We have slap, slap, slap, hammer. Then Slap, left hand hit, slap, pop, slap, right hand thumb, pop. then I'm striking the chord with my index finger. Take is slow and build up speed. If demand is high enough I'll do a full video lesson on this style.

Anyway, onto the lick.

As you can see, this lick starts up in position one using what you might like to think of as a pentatonic hybrid, it's just a cool two note per string pattern I love to use for lydian dominant. We then slide down to position 4 and resolve to the 3rd (G#). You may want to go back to the previous audio example and listen to the lick played slowly at the end.

Above is the lick played to the backing track in context but playing the lick rigidly in time.

This version is me in "Henderson mode" - notice that when the lick is played it's more loose in feel, floating over the beat (played as fast as the hands will go usually!)

Lastly we have an extended backing track for you to practice over

I hope this proves useful to you - next time i'll be going all Michael Brecker on you with the "Tritone Scale" keep your eyes peeled for this fantastic synthetic scale!

In the meantime - please add the following and post your thoughts below.

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