George Russell and the Lydian Chromatic Concept

Looking into the history of jazz movements from ragtime, to swing, to be-bop and post-pop uncovered the work of George Russell and his philosophy of music with the lydian scale. Russell’s Lydian Chromatic Concept simplifies improvising melodies and laid the foundation for a new sound, giving rise to the “cool jazz” epitomized in the classic Kind of Blue.

From experience in playing traditional West African Music as taught by Abou Sylla of Guinea, the Lydian scale appears almost naturally in Mande songs. And it appears Miles Davis’s wish of replacing C with F on the piano may have been done hundreds of years ago with the balafon.

In the above excerpt, Russell explains two different approaches to musical harmony and the intent to shape a new sound in jazz emphasizing more liberal approaches to music. — The Subject is Jazz, WNBC. 1958. New York, NY.

Extending Russell’s theories may lead back to the more complex tonalities found in the “blue notes” of  blues and jazz, Arab, South Asian, and African music along with many bodies of music that predate classical European traditions.


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