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Major Scale Modes:
Mixolydian - Part 1


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The topic of modes is often times one of the most confusing concepts of scale use. Be sure to begin with a solid understanding of the basic major and minor scales before starting with the more complex task of modal study.

Our dominant mode of the major scale is MIXOLYDIAN. The mixolydian mode is built off of the 5th degree (or step) of the major scale. Since the 5th degree in the harmony of the major scale is a dominant 7th chord, or a major triad, the color of the Mixolydian mode is that of major, or of Dominant.

To begin let's look at the scale degrees of a major scale...

MAJOR SCALE: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 The steps of the major are all neutral and therefore have no alterations of any tones. Now let's look at the Mixolydian scale mode...

MIXOLYDIAN: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, b7, 8 As you can see, the Mixolydian mode has a lowered 7th degree. This degree when combined with the scales major 3rd step produces a color that is Dominant.

In order to get a handle on using Mixolydian mode to create solo's, we will first look at how the modes harmony can be used to create chord progressions suitable for performing the scale over top. To do this we need to not only understand something about harmony in major keys, but we also need to understand harmony in relationship to the Mixolydian mode. Look over the chart below...





Now that the harmony is clear in the major key as triad and seventh chords, the next step is to view the harmony from the major scales 5th degree. Remember this is the degree which creates the Mixolydian mode. Look at the chart below...

The harmony follows the same degree formula as our parent major scale harmony, however the stepwise root relationship changes. Unique colorful steps can be found on the one chord and on the five chord of Mixolydian's harmony. Next, we will analyze a chord progression that will bring out the unique sound of Mixolydian. Look at the chord progression below...



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