So what's the deal with scale formulas? Just when I think I have a hold on understanding them they confuse the crap out of me. Example, taken out of the latest guitar magazine talking about the lydian mode:

Lydian mode's intervallic structure:
W W W H W W H
and, the scale formula is:
1 2 3 #4 5 6 7

so the C Lydian scale is
C D E F# G A B

which makes total sense. Whole step between C and D, then D and E, then E and F#, followed by a half step to make it G, etc., thus following very neatly the 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7 scale formula. Like, what stands out to me is that the only sharp in the scale formula is on the 4, which of course corresponds to the F#, the only sharp out of the actual notes.

Now let's try B Lydian
B C# D# F F# G# A#

Now WTF? I know that's the scale, because I applied the whole W W W H W W H thing.

But after constructing it, how does 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7 make any sense??? There are sharps all over the place in the actual scale, yet in the scale formula it says there should only be one sharp. I'm so confused

Anybody understand this stuff?
Only really skimmed your post, but I think your getting sharps in the formula mixed up with actual sharps on the fretboard. Just because in the formula there is a #4, this note itself does not need to be. For example, in F lydian the #4 would be a B.
Hope I helped
it would be E# not F
.. and yes theres a difference

Edit: also when applying scale formulas you just use the degrees of the scale and apply then to the major of the scale your working with
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Last edited by victoryaloy at Apr 16, 2008,
the 1 2 3 4# 5 6 7 applies to the major scale.it means you raise the 4th note of the major scale by a semitone to get the lydian mode of the scale,it doesn't neccesarily mean that the fourth note is a sharp
example, the c major scale is

C D E F G A B

to get the lydian mode you raise the fourth note by a semi tone

so you'll get C D E F# G A B

you get what i mean?
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The #4 in the scale formula refers to the major scale; you're taking the 4th scale degree of the major scale and making it sharp, i.e. moving it up one fret. The notes themselves can have as many sharps or flats as they need to have, the sharp 4th simply means take the major scale and move the 4th note up one fret. I'm not too good at explaining things but I hope this helps.

EDIT: for example, D# Major is

D# F G G# A# C D

therefore D# Lydian would be

D# F G A A# C D

see how the 4th is raised one semi-tone? Nothing to do with the actual notes themselves.
Last edited by rcw110131 at Apr 16, 2008,
So if I said hey, construct the E Lydian scale knowing only the scale formula (1 2 3 #4 5 6 7) you'd be able to do it? How does that work
Quote by yoursweatersux
So if I said hey, construct the E Lydian scale knowing only the scale formula (1 2 3 #4 5 6 7) you'd be able to do it? How does that work

You just take the E Major scale and raise the 4th by one semi-tone, i.e. one fret.
Instead of saying 'sharp' and 'flat' when thinking of scale formula's, it is better and less confusing to say 'raised' and 'lowered'. Hence lydian has a raised fourth.
E maj
E-F#-G#-A-B-C#-D#

E lydian
E-F#-G#-A#-B-C#-D#
Quote by joshjhasarrived
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You're getting the sharps in the scale formula mixed up with sharp notes i.e. F#. The notes in the scale formula means you're affecting the W W W H W W H, not the ABCDEFG structure.
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Ohhh ok I've got it now. Thanks dudes!