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Mixolydian Bass Mode | Easy Scale Lesson

Introduction to the Mixolydian mode

The Mixolydian bass mode is one of the most commonly used modes on bass, and in contemporary music as a whole.

In this lesson you’ll learn what Mixolydian is, the Mixolydian bass scale sequence, and look at a fretboard diagram to help you visualize Mixolydian.

What is the Mixolydian mode?

The Mixolydian bass mode is the 5th mode of the major scale, and is commonly used over dominant 7th chords because of its harmonic structure.

Being the 5th mode of the major scale simply means the Mixolydian bass scale is built from the 5th degree of the major scale.

You’ll see this put into practice in the upcoming examples.

The odd naming of modes

Major scale modes have Greek names. This is due to the history of music theory in Greece.

Mixolydian scale formula and interval structure

The Mixolydian scale formula is:


The b7 is the single interval that sets the Mixolydian mode apart from the Ionian mode (the major scale).

Constructing Mixolydian in whole and half steps

Here’s the Mixolydian mode constructed in whole and half steps:


This means you can pick any root note, follow this pattern of whole and half steps, and when resolving on the root note you will have played through a Mixolydian scale!

Applying Mixolydian

Mixolydian is considered a major mode, because its root chord is a major triad.

When adding the b7 degree to the root chord, you get a dominant 7th chord.

This means that Mixolydian is used over major chords and dominant 7th chords possessing the same root.

This also means that it can be played over the V chord in a major scale progression, as the V chord can be a major triad or a dominant 7th chord.

Due to its popularity in soloing over dominant chords, Mixolydian is sometimes called the dominant scale.

C Major Scale Bass

Here’s the C major bass scale, which you’ll use as a reference for understanding Mixolydian.

If you don’t know, the interval structure of the major scale has no sharps or flats. The scale formula is 1-2-3-4-5-6-7.

Notes in C major


C major bass scale one octave

G Mixolydian

Here’s the G Mixolydian bass scale.

This is the 5th mode of the C major scale (shown above). You can derive the Mixolydian mode from the C major scale or any other major scale by building the scale from the 5th degree.

As you can see, G Mixolydian has the same notes as the C major scale, but G is used as the root note.

Since G is the new root note, the interval structure changes in the scale sequence! The new structure is the Mixolydian scale sequence: 1-2-3-4-5-6-b7

Notes in G Mixolydian


G Mixolydian bass mode one octave

C Mixolydian Scale Bass

Here’s the C Mixolydian bass scale.

This is often referred to as the parallel mode for the C major mode/scale.

As you can see, the only thing that’s changed relative to the C major scale is the B note has moved to Bb. This is the b7 interval, which you’ve learned is what sets Mixolydian apart from Ionian (major).

Notes in C Mixolydian


C Mixolydian bass scale one octave

C Mixolydian Bass Mode Fretboard Diagram

Here’s a complete C Mixolydian bass scale diagram, with the intervals.

Even though I used note names in the above examples, it’s also good and important to analyze the mode by looking at it’s interval structure across the fretboard.

C Mixolydian bass scale fretboard diagram showing intervals

Conclusion: Practicing the Mixolydian Bass Mode

Now that you’ve learned some Mixolydian bass scale shapes, it’s time to put them into practice!

When practicing the mode pay attention to how the b7 sounds relative to a major chord or dominant chord with the same name.

Start by practicing with the G Mixolydian scale, because all of it’s notes are natural, which makes it easier to understand. Plus, you may already be familiar with the notes of this mode if you know the C major scale.

From there you can practice using C Mixolydian, the Mixolydian mode parallel to C Major. This will give you help you understand how the b7 sounds relative to a major 7th interval. Try playing both scales over a C major chord.

In general, you can type in “Mixolydian backing track” on YouTube, which will help you practice the mode.

What’s next?

Looking for some other bass scales to master? Then check out these 2 lessons:

Major Pentatonic Bass Shapes | 5 pentatonic scale positions

Minor and Major Blues Scale Bass: Comprehensive Guide

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