Mixolydian is the fifth mode of the Major Scale. It’s often referred to as the Dominant Scale, because it is built upon the 5th degree of the major scale. That’s also where we get the name for Dominant chords, which are a major triad with a flattened 7.
And that’s all there is to it, if we take our Major scale, (in this case G)…
R 2 3 4 5 6 7
G A B C D E F#
And turn that 7 into a minor 7…
R 2 3 4 5 6 7
G A B C D E F
That’s the Mixolydian Mode. Below is the tablature for G Mixolydian, which relates to the C Major scale.
Remember this is a moveable pattern, so if you were to play it a fret higher it would be Ab Mixolydian; another 3 frets on top of that would make it B Mixolydian, etc, etc.
Here’s a few examples of songs written in the Mixolydian mode:
Summer Song by Joe Satriani
Yoü And I by Lady Gaga
Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Where No Man Has Gone Before, (the Star Trek theme tune) by Alexandar Courage
And now, because I’m incredibly generous, I’m going to give you a short piece demonstrating the real character of the Mixolydian mode. It’s a short etude in B Mixolydian, consisting of an intro with a lead guitar melody, a relative minor section to solo over, then an outro with a similar melody. Here’s the video…
First off, here’s the tab for the rhythm in the intro and outro. Note that this might not be the way you’d normally play these chords. It’s actually the available, (and suitable), open strings that I wanted to go for to get a nice ambient sound from the clean guitar, but here’s the names of those chords for anyone interested.
Now, the first lead part, (this is the same as the tab in the video, but I’ve put it here to save you from running back and forth between frames. I’m nice like that)
The relative minor section is included so you can really hear the difference between the mode and the minor scale – that is, when the tonal centre is moved between something very familiar, (Natural Minor Scale), and something a bit different, (Mixolydian Mode)
Note: I’m not going to upload a tab, (or even bother to work one out), for the lead vamp. That would be pointless, all I’m doing is improvising in the C# Natural Minor scale, and occasionally dipping into the B Mixolydian pattern used to make the melody. If you want tips on how to solo in the minor scale, then you’re definately in the wrong place!
Here’s the tab for the last lead section, which is played over the same chords as the intro.