How to use the Mixolydian Mode

When can you use Mixolydian?

  1. Over Modal Songs: Think Old Joe Clark, Wheel Hoss, Salt Creek, Redhaired Boy or Seven Bridges Road by the eagles if Rock is your thing.
  2. Over the V chord in MAJOR keys. For example, a G7 chord going to C major
  3. Over the II chord in MAJOR keys; Over a A major or A7 in the key of G
  4. Over a I7 chord (G-G7-C)
  5. To impart a Blues flavor

What songs are based on Mixolydian?

  • Big Mon
  • Salt Creek
  • Old Joe Clark
  • Sugar Foot Rag
  • June Apple
  • Red Haired Boy
  • Wheel Hoss
  • Fire on the Mountain-Grateful Dead
  • On Broadway-George Benson
  • Seven Bridges Road-Eagles

What is a Mixolydian Mode?

Let’s start with a MAJOR Scale. A G Major Scale is G A B C D E F# (Numerically speaking, it is 1234567).

To construct a Mixolydian Mode, all you do is flatten the 7th note of this major scale. So you get 1-2-3-4-5-6-b7 (G A B C D E F).

Now, in the old Renaissance Music days, you couldn’t just run up and down the mode, hitting whatever notes you wanted, whenever you wanted. There were rules you had to adhere to. However, the use of modes in modern music has changed A LOT.

We still want CHORD TONES to inform your note choices, rather than just randomly playing notes. For example, if you are on a G Chord (Aiming for the G-B-D notes are going to be the best bets for creating nice melodies). Not saying you can’t play the other notes, but you need to know where these target notes are, and use them effectively.

How do I learn to use Mixolydian in my playing?

1)Over Modal Songs, you are less restricted by CHORD TONES. What do I use in my own playing over modal songs?

a)Short fragments (Think 3-4 groupings of notes) moved up and down the Mode. For example, let’s say you play B-A-G, well, if you move this down in the mode you would get A-G-F and then if you move it again you’ll get G-F-E. Some people call that a SEQUENCE.

b)Themes moved up and down within the mode.

c)Non-chord tone playing, thinking less about chords and more about melodies.

2)Over the V chord in Major keys. A quick way is to steal licks from others. Simply go through a solo and find out what others play over the V chord, memorize the lick and run through various keys. In jazz, the LOVE to play a Descending Mixolydian Scale connecting to I chord. One of the KEYS to nice Mixolydian licks over the V chord is targeting the b7 of that chord and connecting it to the 3 of the I chord. Here is an example:

B-D-E-F | E

Here the F is the b7 of the V chord and E is the 3 of the I chord. This b7 connects you to 3 extremely well.

3)Over the II major (sometimes called the V of V) in Major Keys. There are a lot of old gospel tunes with II majors in them. For example, in the key of G, they go to an A chord. You can use A mixolydian over this chord.

4)If you have a song with two bars of G going to C, you can instead go G-G7-C. G Mixolydian will push you into C major. In summary, I mixolydian will push you into the IV Chord. For some nice voice-leading try creating a lick that ends on an F note (b7 of G) and then goes to E (3rd of C major). It bears repeating, the b7 to 3rd movement creates a nice melodic line.

5)Mixolydian is useful any time you want to impart a bluesy sound to a major chord area. I do this over bluesy songs such as “Nine Pound Hammer”, “Sitting on Top of the World”, and more. See the 2nd video below for my demonstration!

Here are the corresponding Youtube VIDEOS:

The first one presents the fingerings (there are COUNTLESS possibilities here), so, this is just a sampling of the ones I use the most.

A second video demonstrates HOW and WHERE I use the Mixolydian Mode.

The TAB PDF’s to these two videos are available for my Patreon members at:


There is one TAB file that shows my four G mixolydian fingerings and then the other TAB shows SOME of what is delivered in the second video as far as the themes played and an example of each useage.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.