Mixolydian is the 5th mode of the major scale. In C major we get G Mixolydian, the notes are: G – A – B – C – D – E – F – G. Mixolydian, like Ionian and Lydian is a major type of mode because it has a major 3rd. However it differs from Ionian and Lydian in that it has a minor 7 not a major 7.
This means that we get a Dominant chord, G7 from the mode (Rather than GMaj7), this is made up of a Root, major third, perfect fifth and a minor seventh. Despite being similar to the major scale the mixolydian mode has a lot of mileage for musical endeavours.
Here is the first octave ascending and descending:
The G major scale would contain the notes:
G – A – B – C – D – E – F# – G
So you can see that the 7th note is what makes Mixolydian different. This mode works well over Dominant 7 chords
The m7 interval means that the mode doesn’t have as strong of a resolution to the root note. This can make mixolydian a little tricky to use since its related chord, the dominant 7, feels like it needs to resolve back to the I chord.
Having said that Dominant 7 chords are an excellent way of changing keys using ‘modulation’, we’ll cover this in more detail in a future lesson. A quick example would be to change key from C Major to F Major by playing the chords:
CMaj7 – C7 – FMaj7
C is the I chord in C Major but by lowering the 7th from B to Bb we get a C7 chord instead of CMaj7, this would be the V chord in our new key (F Major)
Mixolydian Mode Example
In the following example we have a funky backing track which uses the mixolydian mode. You can hear how the guitar lead fits over the funky bassline, both of which are making use of the mixolydian mode.
Footnote: The guitar in the cover image is from Rick Toone USA who make some truly next level guitars.
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