Question of the week

I was asked an interesting question this week by a student, and it’s not the first time I’ve had this kind of question with regard to this subject, so here is an answer.

Question : I have a I IV V progression in A, can I play A Mixolydian over it?

Firstly we have to clarify the progression of A D E. Making the assumption that these three chords are all Major as Mixolydian is inherently major, the notes forming these chords will be

A = A C# E
D = D F# A
E = E G# B

A Mixolydian is A B C# D E F# G
Both the A and D chords are fine but we have a problem with the G G# clash over the E chord.
So you could play it if you avoided the G but G is the Mixolydian character note so essentially it defeats the purpose of playing Mixolydian in the first place.

If the chord progression had been A D Emin, you’d have been in with a fighting chance of using Mixolydian all the way through.

If you were after the Mixolydian sound for this progression, you could treat each chord as Mixolydian and play A Mixolydian over the A, D Mixolydian over the D and E Mixolydian over the E. Yes this will take some thinking about and practice, but if that is the sound you were questing for it is persevering with.
Maybe set up a recorded loop of 8 bars of each to allow you to get used to the scale and changing from one to the other. Once you have this under your belt and are comfortable with it try the idea with a 12 Bar blues version.
Bars 8-12 will demonstrate if you have it down yet.

If the 3 chords are A7 D7 E7, then there aren’t many more options available as perfect note choices. Although as always in the Blues context, we can blues scale bend ourselves out of danger if required.

Task : familiarise yourself with the Mixolydian mode in a number of different keys and practice moving between them.

(Hint : you will find that A Mix, D Mix and E Mix have a number of coinciding notes that you can try to effortlessly move from one tonality to the next with.)

A Backing track and example will follow soon.

Mixolydian scale formula

1 2 3 4 5 6 b7

Have fun and keep your ears open

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~ by Geoff Lea Guitar on March 18, 2011.

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