4 ways to add some Mixolydian flavour to your playing

Guitar Advice

Stretching the interval/pattern concepts we covered last month with the Dorian mode, let’s apply some similar ideas to Mixolydian. Taking the Major scale and flattening the 7th degree gives us Mixolydian, which is most commonly used to improvise over Dominant 7th chords. C Mixolydian would be spelt C-D-E-F-G-A-Bb, with the normal B natural from C major flattened to B flat.

Figure A is C Mixolydian over two octaves. This version has a couple of position shifts to help with moving and covering the fretboard. Start with your second finger and play the first octave (the first bar), then move to your first finger in bar two and then jump to use your first finger on the high C in the 8th fret on the high E string (the second last note in bar two). This allows you to descend in a typical box type pattern based from C in the eighth fret. Remember, Mixolydian is like a Major scale with a flattened 7th, so if you’ve played a Major scale shape up the neck before, this pattern should be familiar. 

 

Adding some intervallic jumps such as Figure B breaks up the consecutive sound. This is taken from a three-per-string shape and skipping some of the intervals. You can try picking or hammer ons – either way, aim for a legato-type flowing sound.

 

Figure C moves in a descending fashion again, skipping some notes for a different flavour. Work on getting each note clean and precise at a slower tempo before pushing up the BPM. Picking can work, but you might prefer a combination of picking and hammer ons/pull offs. All of these examples so far will work over a C7 chord. You could also try them over the I chord in a C Blues or the V chord (C7) in an F Blues (amongst other options).

 

Lastly, let’s try Figure D. This example uses E Mixolydian and involves a number of position shifts to work from low G# up to high E in the 12th fret on the 1st string. Start with your first finger on G# and the rest of the first bar should unfold nicely. The second bar follows much the same position before a run for B-F#-D on adjacent strings. I’d play all three notes with my little finger, allowing me to then use my first finger for the E note in the 5th fret on the second string.

 

By making this move to my first finger, I can then stretch up to the G# with my little finger and then B on the first string again with my first finger. Jump up to your little finger for the high E in the 12th fret at the start of bar 4 and end on your 3rd finger for the D note in the 12th fret on the 4th string. This allows you to use your little finger and second finger to complete the lick. 

 

Image via Jefferson Santos.

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