10 contrasting pieces
Exploring the wonderful world of the Mixolydian, Jon Bishop provides 10 stylistically different pieces to illustrate how versatile this mode this and how it can refresh your playing.
Welcome to our mega Mixolydian feature. One of the most useful of all the modes, the aim of this month’s lesson is to apply the Mixolydian to a wide variety of stylistic settings, using both rhythm and lead ideas. It’s hoped that by the end of the lesson your Mixolydian trick bag should be fully topped up. But first, let’s review what the Mixolydian mode is and how it functions. We’ll be looking at it in the guitar-friendly key of A, but of course everything here applies equally to all other major keys.
Mixolydian is the fifth mode of the Major scale, so to get A Mixolydian we play a D Major scale starting from its fifth degree (which is, of course, A). So the notes of A Mixolydian (A-B-C#-D-E-F#-G) are the same as those of D Major (D-E-F#-G-A-B-C#).
Another way to look at the Mixolydian is as a ‘tweaked’ Major scale. So, for example, A Mixolydian is the A Major scale but with a flattened 7th (a G note).
If you examine the notes of an A7 chord (A-C#-E -G) you’ll see that all these notes are in A Mixolydian (A-B-C#-D-E-F#-G), making them the perfect fit for soloing.
R-2-3-4-5-b7. The intervallic structure is: Our chosen key of A has three sharps (F#, C# and G#), and as you study the notation you will see that any G# notes are made into G naturals via accidentals, thus proving we are using A Mixolydian mode and not A major, with its major 7th.
The Mixolydian sound is useful for all types of music styles and many of you will recognise it as the sound of the blues. You can also access all the notes of the Mixolydian mode by combining the A Major and A Minor Pentatonic scales (a popular blues trick). This also throws a minor 3rd (C natural) into the mix and this is useful in styles like country, jazz and blues and is a popular addition.
To get you started we have included a scale fingering from which many of the lesson’s lead examples are constructed. This will allow you to experiment and come up with your own ideas (see Fig 1).
Many thanks to Universal Audio for the loan of the Apollo interface for the recording and to Pete Riley for performing the drums. Have fun and see you next time.