We are all far too familiar with the standard major scale of music, also called the Ionian mode of the 7 standard modes of music.
It is uplifting and happy because the 3 main perfect intervals are all major chords: I – IV – V. And you have heard this in 1000s and 1000s of songs in popular music over the past decades.
But among the 7 modes, there is one that is considered the brightest and most uplifting of all. It can even sound happier than your standard major scale.
This happiest mode of music is the Lydian Mode. But why does it have such an inherent power to “uplift your spirit” and make you feel like flying?
Why the Lydian Mode is the Happiest Mode in Music
It all comes down to that 2nd chord of the Lydian mode. It is the only mode where both the tonic and 2nd chord (supertonic) are major triads.
This makes for a super uplifting transition when you go from let’s say a C Major chord to a D Major chord, which has that classic “Lydian Sound”.
It is particularly powerful if you make both of these chords in root position. The reason becomes clear if you analyse the internal voice leading between the chords.
If you play a C Major chord in root position, then go to a D Major chord in root position, all the chord voices will move upwards in a major 2nd interval. C to D, E to F# and G to A.
And the major 2nd interval is very uplifting by itself, which is very evident if you listen to a classic major 2nd trill on flutes for example.
By having all chord voices go up a major 2nd, you are basically boosting that major vibe by a factor of 3. Add the bass line to this, and you have yourself one of the most uplifting chord changes of music.