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Confusion about Mixolydian modes/scales and 7th chords.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Fassa Albrecht, Apr 19, 2009.

  1. Seriously, I would really appreciate some help on this one.

    In a bass lesson I took online, it said that the Mixolydian mode was applied to the V chord. Yet in the same lesson it said that Mixolydian modes were applied to the 7th chord.

  2. thezim0090


    Jun 4, 2006
    do you mean it said you could use it for V7 chords? the mixo scale is arpeggiated with a root, Major 3rd, perfect 5th, and minor 7th...this is a chord form known as a dominant 7th. V chords are generally dominant, and when they have a 7th included they are written as V7 (dominant 7th chord). For instance, the V7 of C major is G7, the 7 of the G being an F (which is also the perfect 4th of C major).

    Another way of thinking of it is that the mixo scale has the same notes as the C major scale, but starts from the G (the perfect fifth) and continues up it until it gets to an octave of G.

    The biggest different between the mixo scale and the major scale (actually the only difference) is the 7th degree of the scale. In the major, its a major 7th (one half step below the tonic), in the mixo, its a minor 7th (one full step below the tonic). That's because in the mixo scale, which starts on the 5th degree of the major scale, has its 7th note on the 4th of the major, which is meant to be a perfect 4th, not a sharp 4th.

    { C major }
    C D E F G A B C
    1 2 M3 4 5 M6 M7 1
    { G mixolydian }
    G A B C D E F G
    1 2 M3 4 5 M6 m7 1
    That may sound really complicated...try it out on a guitar or piano and see if it works for you.
  3. Myamaru


    Sep 14, 2008
    Kimberly, WI
    The Mixolydian mode is applied to the V meaning that if you start on a major scale, if you start on the V and go up one octave, you will be playing the mixolydian mode. You play the Mixolydian mode over a 7th chord because of the flat 7 in the mixolydian scale. Hopefully this makes sense
  4. Asher S

    Asher S

    Jan 31, 2008
    I think you're confusing MODES (in roman numerals, I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII) and TONES (in numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13..., and flat,minor, sharp, augmented, diminished). The mixolydian (V mode) encompasses the chord consisting of 1 (root note), major 3rd note, 5th note, and flat 7th note (also referred to as the dominant 7th chord).

    I have a couple of older posts that should clear them up. I'll post links in a few minutes.
  5. Asher S

    Asher S

    Jan 31, 2008
    A little about MODES
    Learn about "chord-scale compatibility", i.e., the C major scale is the Ionian scale (I) C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C, ... the II scale in C major is the D Dorian scale (D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D), and so on with III (Phrygian), IV (Lydian), V (Mixolydian), VI (Aeolian), and VII (Locrian)

    Memorize all these scale patterns and practice shifting between them keeping in mind where you are relative to your root key (i.e. I, II, V, etc). Practice intervals, arpeggios etc across these scales, ascending, descending, also ascending on only 2 strings up 2 octaves, then descending down a different area of the fretboard. Hours of fun. PLUS, you'll see interval, harmony and chord patterns and relationships you may not have previously noticed.

    This is most easily seen in the chart below. I'm not a professional musician, so anyone more knowledgeable out there: please correct me if there's something wrong here.

    The Dorian pattern is offset to the left on purpose, because I want to remind myself to start with my second (index) finger for the Dorian scale. For all other patterns, if the first dot is in the bottom left position, start with the second (index) finger. If there's an open fret space left of the first dot, start with the 3rd (middle) finger. The reason for this is that if you follow this convention, then moving up or down a single string (rather than using the next string up or down) will always have the pattern continue 1 whole tone up from the last note in the 2 or 3-note section of the pattern... This makes it much easier to move around the fretboard with accuracy.


    A little about CHORDS
    the basic triad consists of the root (1), third (3), and fifth (5).

    To understand major vs minor, and "perfect" vs diminished vs augmented, you should know that in the 8-note scale (including the octave), only the 4 and 5 can be diminished (flattened a half tone). All the other notes (2, 3, 6, 7) are "minor" when flattened a half tone. Sharpening a half tone yields an augmented "X" (2-7).

    So, with this in mind, and using the C Ionian scale (C D E F G A B C) the main triads are:

    MAJOR: C E G
    MINOR: C Eb G

    Now, if you add in a fourth note to the chord (commonly the 7th) you need to know that in the notation, one "maj" refers to the 7th being major (a half-tone below the octave) and one "min" (or just "m") refers to the 3rd (being flat). The 3rd default is MAJOR and the 7th default is MINOR... SO:

    C Maj 7: C E G B (C major triad + major 7th: B is a half-tone below C)
    C Dominant 7 (Or just C7) : C E G Bb (C major triad + minor 7th)
    C min 7: C Eb G Bb (C minor triad + minor 7th)
    C Diminished 7: C Eb Gb Bbb (C diminished with double flat B, which is equivalent to an A)
    C Minor Major 7: C Eb G B (C minor triad + major 7)

    Then you can get into 6ths, 9ths, 11ths, 13ths, sus4 etc etc...

    A good book that explains this (and much more) is the Total Jazz Bassist by Overthrow & Ferguson.

    I hope that helps.
  6. onlyclave


    Oct 28, 2005
    Oh crap here we go again.

    It's V chord - The Dominant. You can play any mode, scale or collection of vibrations that you want on a V chord. Let me repeat that again:

    You can play any mode, scale or collection of notes that you want on a V chord.

    Forget that V = mixolydian nonsense.
  7. Asher S

    Asher S

    Jan 31, 2008
    True, but he asked about the mixolydian mode, hence the explanations as such.

    I'm not sure why there needs to be a "debate" about modes, scales, key centers etc, any more than there needs to be debate on whether one prefers to use letters OR words OR proper grammar when speaking. All of are part of the language of music.
  8. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    The V chord is the chord built on the fifth of the scale. So, in the key of C, it's the G chord. Now the most common function of the V chord is to resolve back to the I chord (or C in this case). And if you make the V chord a 7th (NOT VII), then instead of just G B D, the notes are G B D F, which makes it a G7.

    So, the lesson was right, you can use the Mixolydian mode to play over the V chord, which is a dominant7.

    But here's what the lesson probably did NOT teach you. That the REASON to use the Mixolydian mode. That's because because the Mixolydian mode starting on G is G A B C D E F, and if you harmonize to make the 7th chord you get G B D F. The notes of the chord are in the G mixolydian mode. And what they also don't teach you is that you don't need to think in terms of modes for each chord. Look at chord progressions, not chords as single entities. You'll start seeing that a lot of songs have predictable chord progressions, with sections of them being all in the same key. For example- if a song goes |Dim7|G7|C|, then while you COULD use D Dorian, G Mixolydian, and then C Ionian. what you miss entirely with this approach is that those three chords DEFINE a key center of C major. And so, using the C major scale over all three chords not only works, but TIES THEM TOGETHER.

  9. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    I was under the impression that you could use the Mixolydian mode over any major chord with a minor 7th, whether or not it functioned as the dominant of the key.
  10. Right I think I know what I'm doing now...

    I hate music theory!
  11. EADG mx

    EADG mx

    Jul 4, 2005

    Mixolydian is the mode associated with the Dominant chord (V), or the Dominant 7th chord. Not to be confused with the viio chord.

    The reason for that is that the V7 chord and the Mixolydian scale are both based off of the 5th scale degree.

    Below, you can see how a G7 chord is contained within the G mixolydian mode:

    G A B C D E F G

    You have now scratched the surface of chord/mode relationships.
  12. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    And, for the record Fassa.

    Dominant chords (C7 for example) are more often than not, referred to as 7th chords. It's just way easier to say C seven, rather than C dominant seven.

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