Mixolydian Mode Meyhem


Today we’ll explore some different ways to use the Mixolydian mode to create some new and interesting sounds.  If you haven’t already, I suggest that you take a look at my previous lesson on Dorian mode. In that lesson I explain a lot about modes and some misconceptions that people have about them.  If you don’t know the basics of modes, please go back and read that lesson first before you continue any further. 

The Mixolydian mode is the fifth mode of the major scale.  You can build the mixolydian mode by playing a major scale, starting from its fifth tone.  For example a G Mixolydian scale is built by taking a C Major scale [C D E F G A B C] and playing it from its 5th tone.  So G Mixolydian is [G A B C D E F G]. You can also think of a mixolydian scale as a major scale with a flat 7.  For example G Major is  [G A B C D E F# G]. Therefore if we take that scale any lower the 7th tone a half step (F# lowered to F), we will get G Mixolydian [G A B C D E F G].

The Mixolydian mode has a lot of great uses. Many people like to use it for blues. But one interesting way to use it is to try to create a kind of Scottish sound.  That’s what I’m going to talk about today.  The first example with be the main riff from Glasgow Kiss and the second will be a solo from Highland Wedding.

Glasgow Kiss- John Petrucci

I’ve used thing song before in a lesson on John Petrucci picking riffs.  It’s a great song so let’s take a look at some of the basic theory behind it. 

Glasgow Kiss

As you can see in the riff, the key signature denotes A major (3 sharps).  The tonal center of the piece however is around E.  E is the dominant or 5th tone in an A major scale.  Therefore this riff is in E mixolydian.

Highland WeddingSteve Morse

This is a very modal type piece.  About halfway through it shifts into A mixolydian.  As you can note in the tab of the solo the key signaturedenotes A major, but throughout the solo all of the G are G naturals. This modification makes it A mixolydian (A B C# D E F# G ).  The tab starts at about 3:10 into the video.

 highland wedding

If you have any questions or comments please email me at mdguitarteacher@gmail.com.

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