The Mixolydian mode | Guitar Lesson with Shapes

What's the Mixolydian mode

The Mixolydian mode, also called dominant scale is the fifth mode of the major scale. It is a major type scale. It has the same notes as the Ionian mode, except the minor seventh (b7). This is the mode to know when you want to play over dominant chords (not altered). The Mixolydian mode is widely used in jazz and blues music and one of the most important to master.

G Mixolydian mode G A B C D E F
Formula 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7
Intervals W W H W W H W

(W = whole step ; H = half step)

You can play the Mixolydian mode over the dominant chords below (non altered)

7, 9, 11, 13, 7sus4 

The Mixolydian mode in twelve keys

What are the twelve Mixolydian modes

The chart below represents the twelve Mixolydian modes to know. Any jazz guitar student must keep in mind that each mixolydian scale relates to a parent key. For example, the parent key related to A Mixolydian is D, in other words, A Mixolydian is the fifth mode of D major scale (Ionian mode). The chart below also shows the related dominant 7th chord to each dominant scale.

Mode Tones Parent key Chord
A Mixolydian Mode A,B,C#,D,E,F#,G D A7
Bb Mixolydian Mode Bb,C,D,Eb,F,G,Ab Eb Bb7
B Mixolydian Mode B,C#,D#,E,F#,G#,A E B7
C Mixolydian Mode C,D,E,F,G,A,Bb F C7
Db Mixolydian Mode Db, Eb, F, Gb, Ab, Bb, C Gb Db7
D Mixolydian Mode D,E,F#,G,A,B,C G D7
E Mixolydian Mode E,F#,G#,A,B,C#,D A E7
Eb Mixolydian Mode Eb,F,G,Ab,Bb,C,Db Ab Eb7
F Mixolydian Mode F,G,A,Bb,C,D,Eb Bb F7
F# Mixolydian Mode F#,G#,A#,B,C#,D#,E B F#7
G Mixolydian Mode G,A,B,C,D,E,F C G7
Ab Mixolydian mode Ab, Bb, C,Db, Eb, F, Gb, Ab Db Ab7

Triads, arpeggios and extensions

How to build chords from the Mixolydian mode

There is only one difference between the Ionian and the Mixolydian mode, this is the minor seventh b7 which, is major in the Ionian mode. The chart below shows you how to build a major triad, sixth and dominant 7th arpeggios related to the Mixolydian mode. As you can see a major triad consists of a root (1), major third (3) and fifth (5). By adding the sixth (6) to this triad you get a sixth arpeggio. When adding the minor seventh to the same triad you get a dominant 7th arpeggio. By stacking the notes of this arpeggio you get a Dominant 7 chord.

G Mixolydian mode G A B C D E F Chord
Formula 1 2 (9) 3 4 (11) 5 6 (13) b7  
G Major triad 1 x 3 x 5 x x G
G sixth arpeggio 1 x 3 x 5 6 (13) x G6
G dominant seventh arpeggio 1 x 3 x 5 x b7 G7


How to play the upper-structure of dominant 7 chords 

Secondary arpeggios (playing the upper-structure of chords)

Another technique used by many jazz musicians is playing the upper-structure of chords (extensions). This technique is to play any note in the chord above the seventh. Let's take the G7 chord (G-B-D-F) which is made up of a root (1), major third (3) perfect fifth (5) and minor seventh (b7). These notes are derived from the G Mixolydian mode. If you refer to chart above, the upper-structure of the G7 chord are the ninth (A), the eleventh (C) and the thirteenth (E). Feel free now to extend your basic dominant arpeggios by adding these extensions.

This chart shows you extensions that can be applied to dominant seventh chords or arpeggios.

Root C Db D Eb E F Gb G Ab A Bb B
9th D Eb E F F# G Ab A Bb B C C#
11th F Gb G Ab A Bb Cb C Db D Eb E
13th A Bb B C C# D Eb E F F# G G#

Mixolydian guitar patterns

How to play the Mixolydian mode on the guitar

These two recommended guitar patterns will help play the mixolydian mode on guitar.

To understand and "hear" the Mixolydian mode, it is recommended to play these patterns by starting on the root "R".

To play the G Mixolydian mode with the first pattern you have to put your second finger on the sixth string at the third fret.

To play the G Mixolydian mode using the second pattern you must put your second finger on the fifth string at the tenth fret.

Once you have learned these patterns you have to play them in twelve keys.

To play the Mixolydian mode in different keys you just have to move the root "R" to the desired note keeping the same intervals.

Pattern 1

(roots "R" on the sixth, fourth and first string)

Mixolydian mode guitar diagram pattern 2

Pattern 2

(roots "R" on the fifth and third string)

Mixolydian mode guitar diagram pattern

II-V-I jazz sequence with extensions

This easy example shows you how to apply extensions over a major II-V-I progression in the key of C. Indeed you can play the upper-structure of any type of chord. The first measure is based on the D Dorian mode (D-E-F-G-A-B-C), it starts with a minor seventh arpeggio (1-b3-5-b7) with the ninth (E) and the eleventh added (G). In the second bar you may notice the presence of extensions as the ninth (A), the eleventh (C) and the thirteenth (E)  from the G Mixolydian scale (G-A-B-C-D-E-F) which is a basic scale to master when you want to improvise over dominant seventh chords. 

II-V-I jazz guitar lick - extensions

Mixolydian jazz guitar licks

Here is a jazz guitar lick that can be applied to a G7 chord. This lick contains notes from the G Mixolydian scale (G-A-B-C-D-E-F) with a chromatic passing tone, a minor third (Bb), between the second (A) and a major third (B) from this Mixolydian scale.

The fingering is suggested. Be sure to play this line in twelve keys by exploiting your own fingering and make it evolve. You can add notes that you hear, vary fretting-hand effects used in guitar playing like hammer-ons, pull-offs, slide,vibratos. These techniques allow you to vary the sound of a picked note in various ways.

G Dominant 7th jazz guitar lick with tabs





You can also check out this YouTube video about 5 Mixolydian jazz lines for beginners.

  • 49 Essential Jazz Lines

    This downloadable eBook in PDF format provides 49 jazz solo transcriptions of the greatest jazz musicians of all times with TABS, standard notation and analysis both for guitar teachers and students.
  • 25 pentatonic licks

    This jazz guitar method is an eBook available as a PDF with standard notation, guitar tabs, diagrams, analysis, audio files and backing tracks. You will find in this booklet 25 easy jazz guitar lines with theory using common and rare pentatonic scales.
  • 20 II-V-I jazz guitar licks

    This method is a printable PDF eBook containing 20 II-V-I jazz guitar lines with tabs and audio files both in major and minor keys
  • 5 Jazz blues arpeggio studies

    A printable PDF eBook with tabs and standard notation containing five jazz blues guitar studies. Learn how to use arpeggios over a jazz blues progression.
  • 50 II-V-I voicings

    Jazz guitar comping. How to play II-V-I chord progressions on guitar with drop 2, drop 3 chords, rootless and inverted voicings. This method is a printable PDF eBook containing 50 exercises with analysis, tabs & standard notation.
  • 11 blues jazz studies

    This PDF method contains 11 guitar lessons with chord studies, tabs, standard notation, analysis & audio files about the main blues progressions used in jazz music.
  • Mastering the altered scale

    This PDF eBook method contains 25 altered jazz guitar licks with tabs, patterns, scale charts and audio files to master, apply and develop the altered scale.
  • 40 Blues Dominant patterns

    This printable method is available as a PDF file containing 40 easy dominant jazz-blues guitar lines with tabs, standard notation, analysis and scale charts.
  • 25 soul jazz guitar licks

    You will find here an eBook available in PDF containing 25 soul jazz and hard bop guitar licks with tabs and standard notation in the style of Grant Green, Melvin Sparks, George Benson.These jazz lines come with tabs, standard notation, guitar neck diagrams, backing track for practice and 25 audio files for each riff.
  • 25 dominant diminished licks

    This eBook PDF contains 25 dominant diminished jazz guitar patterns using the half-whole diminished scale and diminished 7th arpeggios.
  • 25 minor jazz guitar licks

    This printable PDF eBook contains 25 minor jazz guitar licks with tabs, video links, analysis. How to play modes, scales & arpeggios over minor chords.
  • 5 Tritone substitution licks

    The tritone substitution is explained through 5 jazz guitar licks with tabs/notation, youtube video links and backing track links. Printable PDF eBook

Last edited: 23/06/2018