The Mixolydian mode scale can be found by playing the fifth step of any major scale and continuing on till the second octave fifth step is reached. This ‘major – dominant’ sound has an intervallic formula and set of scale degrees as follows:
Remember that when we use the term ‘flattened’ scale degree, we are always referring to the Major scale from the tonic note – in this case, Mixolydian is a G major scale with a flattened 7th degree.
To play the Mixolydian scale with the tonic note G on one string, begin at the 3rd fret of the E (6th) string and play as follows:
Interval order for the Mixolydian scale:
tone – tone – semitone – tone – tone – semitone – tone –
Chords to improvise this sound over:
Major triad, sus, 7, 9, sus7, sus9, 11, 13, 6/9, sus13
Practice the scale with the chords above put into a rhythmical vamp (record your own or get a friend to play a static vamp / groove that uses these chords). Many voicings are included on the core lesson video.
This is a fantastic scale to blend with the major pentatonic, minor pentatonic and blues scales to use for improvising over a blues / jazz blues progression hence:
Mixolydian is based off the fifth degree of the major scale and so has a major sonority. Its 4 consecutive tertian steps (1, 3, 5 and 7) form a dominant seventh chord when harmonised vertically. This is an important sound in popular music and jazz improvisation – it is the most commonly used chord for tension-release progressions such as V7-Imaj or V7-Imin.
In classical terms, the cadence from the fifth degree chord to the tonic chord is called ‘perfect’ (depending on the way in which the notes are voiced and how they resolve – there are subtle differences between inverted forms of this cadence and names for each). This dominant chord type moving in the interval of a fourth upwards (or a fifth downwards) is often used to transition between any of the chords contained within one key (even when the chord preceding a destination chord is not necessarily a dominant chord type), or to move towards chords in a new key (modulation).
To understand this better, look ahead to the core lesson on secondary dominants. Essentially, a dominant chord is inserted in the preceding bar before (or at the end of the preceding bar before) the destination chord. There are a few common dominant scales, Mixolydian is only the first you should learn. For minor resolves a commonly used scale is the Phrygian Dominant (flattened 2nd and 6th degrees):
A H/W Diminished scale can be used over a dominant chord and resolves strongly towards a major chord type a 4th above:
An Altered scale can be used over a dominant chord with a flat or sharp 5 or 9 hence:
Be methodical – practice all keys, use a metronome, practice lots of 8th notes both straight and swung, do heavy reps, use either alternate picking or economy picking and ALWAYS practice in an environment with no distractions.
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