The Mixolydian Mode – A Rocker’s Delight

In previous articles we have covered the Dorian, Lydian and Locrian Modes. This week it is the turn of Mixolydian. As with the other Modes covered, Mixolydian is another of the modes based on the Major (Ionian) Scale and is built from the 5th note of the Major Scale.

It is made up of the following notes in relation to the corresponding Major Scale:

This means that C Mixolydian would be made up of the following notes:

Mixolydian is one of the ‘Major’ sounding modes, but is sometimes referred to as a ‘Dominant’ scale due to the b7. It only differs from the Major scale by the one note (b7).

It is quite a bright sounding scale but avoids the ‘cheesiness’ of the Major Scale. The b7 combines with the Major 3rd to create a mix of major and minor colour to the mode that makes it quite distinctive. It is used quite extensively in rock music where you can use the Major Pentatonic scale and target a b7 whilst playing to get the sound. Some examples would be Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N Roses and Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The chords that are built on the notes of Mixolydian always follow the same pattern (if you remember the Major Scale chord sequence, just start from the 5th and loop!).

As usual the position of the dominant 7th chord will help you identify a Mixolydian chord progression. In this case it will normally be the first chord in the sequence. The normal characteristic Mixolydian chord progression is a Major chord follow by another Major chord a Tone (2 frets) lower. Again think of Sweet Home Alabama – D then C then G (the I, VII & IV of Mixolydian).

As always, try playing some Mixolydian chord progressions to get the feel for yourself. Try playing the Major chord of the key to the Major chord a tone lower to ‘get’ the sound.

Below is a Mixolydian chord progression you can listen to and get the feel of it. Have a jam over it too if you feel like rocking!!

Mixolydian Chord Progression Playalong Track

Try improvising in C Mixolydian or C Major Pentatonic and try adding/targeting the b7.

Enjoy some Mixolydian rocky vibes this week!!

Work hard and most importantly, have fun!!

-Duncan Richardson - MU Columnist

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