In this guitar lesson we are going to be learning a bit about what the Mixolydian mode sounds like, a common Mixolydian guitar scale shape and what notes give the Mixolydian mode its unique sound. We will start out with an A major scale and alter just one note to turn it into an A Mixolydian scale. If you don’t know your major scale yet you might want to check out the lesson Major Guitar Scale Shapes. The diagrams for the scale shapes used in this lesson have been provided for you.
An A major scale is spelled 1A 2B 3C# 4D 5E 6F# 7G#. In order to turn this A major scale into an A Mixolydian scale all you have to do is lower the 7th degree of the A major scale one half step. The 7th scale degree of an A major scale is G#. Lower this G# to a G natural. That would leave us with an A Mixolydian scale, spelled 1A 2B 3C# 4D 5E 6F# 7G. Check out the scale diagram to learn the Mixolydian shape that we are using in this lesson.
Another way that you can think about the Mixolydian scale is to use the 5th scale degree of any major scale as your starting point. For example lets look at an A major scale. The 5th scale degree of an A major scale is an E note. Play the A major scale starting on that E and you will be playing an E Mixolydian scale. Either way you choose to think about it is fine.
Now let’s take a look at what notes in the Mixolydian scale give it it’s unique sound. The root of the scale is important because it gives us a starting or focal point. The 3rd of the scale is also important because it gives us a major sound. The lowered 7th scale degree is really the defining note in the Mixolydian scale.
Try recording an A major chord and a G major chord. Go back and forth between these chords and then play back the recording. Try using the A Mixolydian scale to improvise over these two chords. If you will notice, the G major is based off of the note that we lowered to make the Mixolydian scale in the 1st place. Improvising over the A major and the G major is a great way to get the sound of the Mixolydian mode in your head.
You can also pick any dominant 7 chord and play the same Mixolydian scale over that chord. For example, choose a G dominant 7 chord and play a G Mixolydian scale over it. Dominant chords work well to practice your Mixolydian scales with because dominant 7th chords and the Mixolydian mode both have lowered 7th degrees that give them their unique sound.