MIXOLY­DIAN MASTER­CLASS

10 con­trast­ing pieces

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

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.

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