If you’re like a lot of guitar players, you might find learning scales and modes to be dull. But discovering modal playing can really open up new worlds. Best of all, the modes rely on notes and chords you already know! Today we’ll take a closer look at the B Mixolydian mode.
What Is Mixolydian Mode?
Before you dive into the Mixolydian scale (Mixolydian mode) and the chords it goes with, it’s important to understand the concept of major scales and scale degrees.
There is a major scale (for guitar, piano, etc.) in every key. The major scale has seven notes and seven modes — one mode for each note. Each mode starts on a different note of the scale. Here are the modes:
The Mixolydian mode is the fifth mode of the major scale. That means that it starts on the fifth note of the relevant major scale.
Notably, when you look at the intervals or scale degrees, a scale of Mixolydian notes has a flattened seventh. Here are the degrees of a Mixolydian scale:
- Root note
- Major second
- Major third
- Perfect fourth
- Perfect fifth
- Major sixth
- Minor seventh
What Is B Mixolydian Mode?
This mode is simply a Mixolydian scale played with B as the first note. It sounds easy enough, but you need to know more than just root notes if you want to use this mode in your guitar or piano playing.
Remember that the Mixolydian mode is the fifth mode of the major scale. That means it starts on the fifth note of the major scale. To play it, we need to know which major scale has B as its fifth note.
That would be the scale of E major:
E – F# – G# – A – B – C# – D#
**Notably, if you play a piece of music in B Mixolydian, it will have the same key signature as a piece in E major.
And if you wanted to play the scale in B Mixolydian mode, you would play it in this order:
B – C# – D# – E – F# – G# – A
The notes on the scale follow these scale degrees:
- Root note: B
- Major second: C#
- Major third: D#
- Perfect fourth: E
- Perfect fifth: F#
- Major sixth: G#
- Minor seventh: A
There is another way to figure out the notes in the Mixolydian scale. This one relies on a pattern of tones.
The Mixolydian mode uses this pattern: W – W – H – W – W – H – W. The “W” stands for a whole step (or whole tone) and the “H” stands for half step (or semitone). If we start with B and follow the same pattern of whole and half steps, we get the same scale.
What Chords Go With B Mixolydian Mode?
Now you know what notes are on this scale. But what about the scale chords? First, you’ll need to know the format for the chords related to each note of the scale: I, ii, iiidim, IV, v, vi, bVII.
An uppercase Roman numeral indicates a major chord, while a lowercase one indicates a minor chord. The third chord is a diminished chord and the seventh chord is flattened (lowered by a half step).
Using these intervals, we can determine what chords go with this mode:
- I: B
- ii: C#m
- iiidim: D#dim
- IV: E
- v: F#m
- vi: G#m
- bVII: A
Going Forward: Playing In Mixolydian Mode
Solos in Mixolydian mode sound especially good over seventh chords. And while there aren’t technically rules on using the Mixolydian mode, it sounds especially good in blues and jazz!
Need some more clarification? Here are some common questions:
Since Mixolydian mode is the fifth mode of the major scale, we need to know which major scale has B as the fifth note. That major scale is E.
However, a song in B Mixolydian mode is not technically in the key of E major. On a piece of sheet music, it will have the same key signature as a piece of music in E major, but it is more properly described as being in the key of B Mixolydian.
If a song uses a note/chord progression with the leading tone being the fifth note in the relevant major scale, you can say with certainty that that song is in Mixolydian mode.