Master Theory Class Part llI : Lydian “The 5 Key”

This is part III of my Master Theory Class lessons. In order to fully understand the following I recommended that you refer back to part l & part II for a complete description of my resolved and unresolved concept.

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. Lets take this a step further by seeing how one key can effect the sound of another.

Lets look at the relationship between the key of C and the Key of G

*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.

As a rule!
Everything in the 5 Key is Resolved in what ever 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.
Ex. 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.

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 its harmonized scale.

PAUL NELSON  is a top recording artist and session player touring with countless international acts. His guitar work has been heard on international and nationally broadcast television shows and commercials aired on NBC, WWF, TNN, and UPN. Studying under Steve Vai, Steve Khan, and Mike Stern early on he is currently touring with Johnny Winter as well as writing for and playing on the Rock/Blues Legend's latest Grammy nominated Virgin/EMI release. His highly acclaimed solo CD entitled "LOOK" has been released worldwide. Paul is an endorsement artist for Ernieball/Musicman, Fender, Taylor and DiMarzio products. For questions, comments and more visit: and