The Mixolydian mode belongs to the V chord!

Mixolydian is the 5th mode and consequentially used over chord V.

You can also use the Mixolydian mode when chord II has been changed into a major chord. As a roman numeral that’s a IIx chord.

As a guitarist, the easiest way to build Mixolydian is from the Major Pentatonic, like this:

Major Pentatonic: 1 2 3 5 6
Mixolydian: 4 b7

Let’s examine each shape and learn a bunch of exercises that can teach you how to play this mode.

First, go through all shapes one by one, then connect them as well as take them through the cycle of 4th.

As you already know the Major Pentatonic and only need to add two notes to each shape, this won’t take long.

The E shaped Mixolydian mode

The E shaped Mixolydian mode is possibly the easiest shape to remember.

As you study the image below, aim to visualise the E shaped dom7 chordarpeggio and Major Pentatonic inside Mixolydian.

A Mixolydian, E shape

The A shaped Mixolydian mode

The A shaped Mixolydian scale is not too difficult to remember.

Looks like this as a Chordacus image. Again, ensure you can see the chord shape, the dom7 arpeggio and the major pentatonic.

A Mixolydian, A shape

The D shaped Mixolydian mode

The D shaped Mixolydian mode is easy to remember if you visualise the D7 chord shape.

The lower part of the scale might be harder and you might even find that you never use it when you solo.

Most players tend to slide down to the E shape below, instead of using the notes below the Root of the D shape.

Here’s a video lesson demonstrating how to learnt the shape, always add the new notes one by one so your hands learn to recognise the important intervals.

The G shaped Mixolydian mode

To get the most out of practicing it is a good idea to think of variations on the theme.

Here’s a list of ideas for practicing modes:

1. Say the intervals as you practice the scale (this will speed up the learning process)
2. Sing intervals as you practice scale (this will connect the ear with the eye)
3. Vary the rhythm of the exercise (This will test your fingers)

As you study the G shape below, look for the dom7 arpeggio, the dom7 chord and the major pentatonic as well.

A Mixolydian, G shape

The C shaped Mixolydian mode

The C shaped Mixolydian mode is easy to remember as long as you visualise the C shaped chord and the Major Pentatonic C shape.

If you pair the major pentatonic with the dom7 arpeggio there is only one note missing to complete the mode, the 4th.

Connect Mixolydian Scale Shapes

The video lesson demonstrates what this would look like in the key of A, transpose the concept to D, G etc.

Don’t get put off by the triplet rhythm in the video, make sure you get all the shapes right by playing slowly at first, without a click.

When you feel confident, put the click on and try the exercise using the triplet.

To expand on this exercise, try other rhythms as well.

Mixolydian through the cycle of 4th

This exercise takes the Mixolydian mode and runs it through the cycle of 4th.

Your ability to play this exercise should be a good indication of how well you know your Mixolydian scale shapes.

If you struggle with a specific shape, go back and practice that shape again.

The full pattern would be:

A Mixolydian – E shape
D Mixolydian – A shape
G Mixolydian – D shape
C Mixolydian – G shape
F Mixolydian – C shape

Start again a semitone up:

Bb Mixolydian – E shape
Eb Mixolydian – A shape
Ab Mixolydian – D shape
Db Mixolydian – G shape
Gb Mixolydian – C shape

Here’s a video demonstration.

Mixolydian Improvisation

The video below contain an improvisation in A using the Mixolydian mode.

Can you see the major pentatonic shapes? Can you see the 4th and b7th?

Compare the Mixolydian Improvisation with other improvisations of the major modes.

Can you see the differences? Can you hear them?

  1. Ionian Improvisation
  2. Lydian Improvisation

For more about improvising in Mixolydian, take the Advanced Guitar Course.

Conclusion Mixolydian

Just like all other major modes, Mixolydian is built by adding two notes to the major pentatonic.

You must first do this in all five shapes, then connect the shapes.

When you can connect the shapes in any key you have mastered the scale shape and don’t have to practice it any more.

For step by step instructions and musical examples from real songs, take the Advanced Guitar Course.