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Guitar Styles:
Using Mixolydian Scale in Classic Rock


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Q: I was wondering if you can cover the sounds of Mixolydian as used in Classic Rock styles. I like the way bands like Guns N Roses and Skid Row use this mode to make their music. But, I dont understand how to write chord progressions using this mode applied to a style like classic rock.
Thank you, Thomas - Germany

A: There definately is a unique major tonality sound found in classic rock played by artists like Neil Young, Guns N' Roses and many others. This sound often uses the major and minor colors found within the Mixolydian mode.

In the video lesson, I will cover two popular chord substitutions using the D Major tonality. When these substitutions are applied, (in any major progression), they will give you the sound that you are after. Thanks for your question!


CHORD SUBSTITUTIONS involve replacing chords found in typical harmonies with chords from another harmony, (in our example; D Major and D Mixolydian mode). D Mixolydian is the 5th mode of the G major scale. It is important that we begin by fully understanding harmony from the perspective of both scales.


The first thing we can do to begin better understanding this idea is simply analyze the harmony of the basic D Major scale.

In the key of D Major, we have these chords:

The Mixolydian mode harmony is very close, however the third degree is diminished, the fifth degree is Minor and the seventh degree is a flat-seven Major. The third degree is too unstable as a diminished to be of much popular use in rock progressions. However, the Minor fifth and lowered Major seventh are excellent sounds for creating chord progressions that sound fantastic for use in the Classic Rock style.


The downloads below contain a handout with all of the chords from the video.
Select from either Power Tab Editor or Adobe PDF file formats.

Chord Harmony Tab Chart
(Power Tab editor document)
Chord Harmony Tab Chart
(Adobe PDF format)

To Download > Left Click > Save