Solving The Mystery of Modes – Part 2

In Part 1 of Solving The Mystery of Modes  we looked at what modes of the major scale were and how the Ionian, Aeloian and Dorian modes can be used in creating guitar solos and melodies. Here we will continue to solve the mystery of modes by looking at the Mixolydian, Phrygian, Lydian and Locrian modes.

Mixolydian Mode
Mixolydian mode is a major mode that starts on the 5th scale degree which in the example of the C major scale will be the G note for G Mixolydian. This mode works well over dominant 7th chords. So if you’re jamming on G7 which is a common thing to do in funk music, play the G Mixolydian mode.


Mp3 Track

G Mixolydian | Download
Listen to the audio of G Mixolydian.

A great idea is to play a mixture of G Mixolydian and G minor pentatonic over this G7 groove. The G Mixolydian creates a great jazz/fusion sound very similar to Jeff Beck.

Another way to look at the Mixolydian mode is that it is the major scale with a flat 7. So where G major would have a F#, G Mixolydian has a F natural.


For a classic example of the Mixolydian mode in action check out the melody for Jeff Beck’s “Freeway Jam”.


Mp3 Track

Freeway Jam | Download
Listen to the audio of Freeway Jam.

Phrygian Mode
Jumping back to the 3rd scale degree takes us to the dark sounding Phrygian mode. Sticking with the C major scale the 3rd scale degree is E so E Phrygian uses the notes of C major starting on E. This mode sounds dark due to the minor second interval between the 1st and 2nd notes of the scale which in E Phrygian is the E and F notes.


Mp3 Track

E Phrygian | Download
Listen to the audio of E Phrygian.

Like the Dorian and Aeolian modes this mode pattern on the fret board can be viewed as the minor pentatonic pattern 1 with 2 extra notes.


This mode is used in Spanish Flamenco music and also is commonly used in heavy metal. One of the most famous examples is the riff from Metallica’s “Wherever I May Roam.”


Mp3 Track

Wherever I May Roam | Download
Listen to the audio of Wherever I May Roam .


Lydian Mode
Lydian mode is another major mode that is less commonly used. The notes of the Lydian mode come from starting major scale on the 4th note. So using the notes of C major it starts on the F note. It has a very open sound to it and works over the exotic Major7#11 chord.


Mp3 Track

F Lydian | Download
Listen to the audio of F Lydian.

Another way to view this mode is as the major scale with a sharpened 4th. So with this in mind have a look at the fret board pattern to see how similar it is to the major scale pattern.


2 well known guitarists who use this mode are Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. For a great example of the Lydian mode in action have look at the melody from Joe Satriani’s “Flying In a Blue Dream”.


Mp3 Track

F Lydian | Download
Listen to the audio of Flying In A Blue Dream.

Locrian Mode
The final mode of the major scale is Locrian mode which starts on the 7th scale degree (B note in C major). This mode is not used as much as the others as it’s played over a half diminished (AKA minor 7 flat 5) chord and there really aren’t many songs based on this unstable chord. Usually the half diminished chord is the ii chord in a minor jazz song which is another topic we’ll get to later on! However below is an example of how the mode sounds and its fret board pattern.


Mp3 Track

B Locrian | Download
Listen to the audio of B Locrian.


So now the mystery of modes have been solved see how you can use them in your own guitar solos and melodies.
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