The mixolydian mode | Free guitar lesson | Diagrams & patterns

jazz guitar scalesThe mixolydian mode, also called dominant scale is the fifth mode of the major scale. The seven mode of the major scale are named ioniandorianphrygian, lydian, mixolydian, aeolian and locrian. It is a major type scale because it contains a major third (3) and a minor seventh (b7). 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

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 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 you 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

Related triads, arpeggios and extensions

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 build 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. By adding the minor seventh to the same triad you get a dominant 7th arpeggio.

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


Secondary arpeggios (playing the upper-structure of chords)

Another technique used by many jazz musicians is arpeggiating 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

These two recommended guitar patterns will help to 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 learnt 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 chords. 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 lick | G7

This is a jazz guitar lick to apply 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 lick 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 a various way.

G7 jazz guitar lick | Video link

Backing track link

G Dominant 7th jazz guitar lick with tabs





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Last edited: 10/12/2017

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