In Friday’s lessons, I talked about the “altered” scale (or super locrian mode) and how you can use it to solo over various altered chords.
Today, I want to talk about another mode you can use to solo or improvise over certain chords.
That mode is called “mixolydian.” (If you didn’t see my last post, it’ll really catch you up).
Basically, it’s when you play a major scale starting and ending on it’s fifth tone.
For example, take the C major scale:
C major scale
The fifth degree of the scale is G.
So if you wanted to play the mixolydian mode, just play these SAME exact notes starting and ending on G. Don’t change any notes. I repeat, keep the notes the same. Just change the starting and ending points.
Notice that the mixolydian mode is just like a regular major scale with ONE change.
Compare it to the regular G major scale:
It’s the 7th tone. Yup, you guessed it.
Basically, the 7th tone is lowered a half step in the mixolydian mode. So instead of F#, you play F.
This works very well over dominant chords because if you think about the notes of the G dominant 7 chord (which falls on the fifth degree of the C major scale), its notes are:
See the lowered “F?”
That’s why the mixolydian mode works so well over dominant chords. In fact, not just dominant 7 chords either… you can use this same scale over 9th chords… 11th chords… 13th chords… even sus chords.
So the next time you want to find something to do while you’re on the 5th degree of the scale, consider the mixolydian mode. You don’t have to learn anything “new” to employ it. Just think of it as your C major scale from “G” to “G” and you’ll be good to go! Skip notes, rearrange notes — just play around with those notes of the mode and see what you can come up with!
Until next time —