Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization – Part 1

Index to posts in this series


Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organisation (cover)This post is the first in a series covering the “Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization”, a jazz theory book written by George Russell in 1953. The “Lydian Chromatic Concept” (LCC for short) is a novel approach to music that treats the Lydian mode as the primary mode rather than Ionian (the major scale).

Russell’s idea is actually based on some very compelling observations but his book is rather dense and difficult to get to grips with. I intend the posts in this series to deal with some of the core concepts presented by Russell but in a more straightforward and accessible way – a way that I can understand! I’m certainly no expert and this will be a learning process for me too.

For a general overview of the “Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization” try this article on Wikipedia. Further information can be found at, which has information about Russell and which appears to be selling the book at the bargain price of $125.00. The book is hard to find, at least at reasonable prices (for example check out this used book site).

George Russell

Wikipedia comes to the rescue again for basic biographical information about George Russell but if you want to see the man in action and hear some of his work the following YouTube video is a great place to start. It includes one of my favourite Russell compositions, the fabulously named “Stratus Phunk”.

Although George Russell is not particularly well known now he was a huge influence on players like Miles Davis. In fact the video above features the incomparable Bill Evans, a close associate of Russell, on piano. It is not often acknowledged how much the modal movement in jazz – so often attributed to players like Miles Davis – owed to Russell’s ideas.

Stay tuned for further posts on the LCC. I’ll keep the index at the top of this post updated as I add new ones.

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OMG thanks a lot!!!!

Andrew Shaw

The Lydian scale (as regards the concept) is not a mode. George Russell would not agree with your description – and to quote such an unreliable source as Wikipedia as a go to place for information is crazy.