Mastering Modes: Mixolydian (Guitar Lesson)


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Kris Norris

Mastering Modes: Mixolydian

Kris explains the basics of the Mixolydian mode, which is a major sounding mode of the major scale. He shows you the target tones of the mode and also plays Mixolydian licks over a backing track so you can hear what it sounds like.

Taught by Kris Norris in Kris Norris Artist Series seriesLength: 10:00Difficulty: 3.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (01:47) Introduction & About Mixolydian Lesson 22 begins with a brief improvisation, after which Kris dives into the Mixolydian mode. By taking the major scale (or Ionian mode) and lowering, or "flattening," the 7th scale degree, the Mixolydian mode is created. In relation to an E tonal center, the Mixolydian mode is spelled E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D, E. In terms of steps, the Mixolydian mode follows this pattern: W-W-H-W-W-H-W. Mixolydian occurs naturally in the major scale starting on the 5th scale degree. In E major the 5th is B. B Mixolydian is spelled B, C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A, B.

The most striking aspect of Mixolydian is the b7th scale degree. By lowering the 7th a half step, the leading tone (another name for the natural 7th) is eliminated as well as the urgency to resolve by half step from the 7th to the 1st (in E major: D# to E).

Kris plays an Emaj7 chord (E-G#-B-D#) at 0:59, which is the tonic seventh chord of E major. He follows it with E7 (E-G#-B-D, note the D instead of D#), which is the tonic chord of E Mixolydian. Listen to the difference in sound between these two chords. Only one note changes, but the "color" or mood created is drastically different.
Chapter 2: (03:46) Mixolydian Target Tones Kris discusses the diatonic chords in Mixolydian in this scene. The diatonic triads in E Mixolydian are: E (I), F#m (ii), G#o (iiio), A (IV), Bm (v), C#m (vi), and D (VII). The primary chords are I, IV, and VII, which in E are E, A, and D. Since v (Bm) is a minor chord, it is regarded as a "weak" resolution to I (E), and VII (D) is used in its place.

The diatonic seventh chords in E Mixolydian are: E7 (E-G#-B-D), F#m7 (F#-A-C#-E), G#m7(b5) (G#-B-D-F#), Amaj7 (A-C#-E-G#), Bm7 (B-D-F#-A), C#m7 (C#-E-G#-B), and Dmaj7 (D-F#-A-C#).

Since the I chord is a dominant 7, it creates an interesting situation. As Kris mentions at 0:29, dominant 7th chords are built on the 5th scale degree of the major scale. You may recall from above that the Mixolydian mode is built naturally on the 5th of the major scale as well, so it should make sense that the chord built on the 1st of the Mixolydian mode is the same as the chord built on the 5th of the major scale.

The function of dominant 7th chords is to move somewhere, but not just anywhere. Dominant 7th chords have a strong urge to resolve up a perfect 4th (2 1/2 steps, written as P4), or down a P5 (3 1/2 steps). In the major scale, this takes you from the dominant, or 5th, chord of the scale (in E, B7) to the same place, the tonic, or 1st, chord of the scale (in E, E).

Play a B7 and an E chord back and forth several times, and listen to the resolutions. If you don't know one or both of these chords, check the Chord Library in the Teaching Tools section here at JamPlay. The sound of these chords alternating should not sound life-changing; on the contrary, it should sound very natural. Our ears have gotten used to this sound over the past few centuries. Now try B7 followed by a random chord, like G or Ebm. Listen to the difference made by changing the second chord. While this is a fresh change of pace, it denies the natural function of the dominant 7th chord.

Our I chord is E7, so the tendency to move up a P4 or down a P5 would lead to the A chord. It is essential in this mode to hear the E7 as final, and not requiring a resolution. This may be tricky if you are used to hearing dominant 7th chords as needing to resolve, but this is not the case in Mixolydian.
Chapter 3: (04:27) More on Mixolydian Kris demonstrates a short example beginning at 0:19 to illustrate the importance of the leading tone, D#. He then changes the D# note to a D natural at 0:31 to clearly display the difference in sound between the major scale and the Mixolydian mode. As stated earlier, it is the b7th that defines the Mixolydian tonality. As Kris makes this change at 0:31, notice how the riff has more of a bluesy or rock sound as compared to the first version.

Listen as Kris plays the I and V chords in E major (E and B) at 0:46. Compare this to when he plays I and IV in E Mixolydian (E and A) at 0:58. The resolution he refers to in the lesson video is the downward half step resolution in the second chord of each riff. In the E major riff, he plays an E note over the B chord and resolves it down a half step to D# (the 3rd of the B chord, B-D#-F#), which creates the urge to move back to E. In the E Mixolydian riff, he plays a D note over the A chord and resolves it down a half step to C# (the 3rd of the A chord, A-C#-E).

What's important about the Mixolydian riff here is that he's using the E chord to resolve to the A chord, which was written about earlier, but the ear does not hear A as the final chord. The tendency of the riff is to return to the I chord, E. This is a great example of how harmony functions within the Mixolydian tonality.

The chord progression Kris uses in the backing track consists of E (2 meas.), D (2 meas.), E (2 meas.), Bm (1 meas.), and A (1 meas.). The chord voicings are included in the Supplemental Content in "E Mixolydian Notation," at the bottom of the page.

Starting at 2:19, Kris improvises while alternating between the E major scale over the E chords and E Mixolydian over the other 3 chords used. He switches between tonalities effectively. When trying this yourself, be very sure of the scale patterns and when the chords are changing. The D# in E major will clash severely with the D and Bmi chords, and to a lesser extent with the A chord. He primarily plays out of what is labeled "Position 2" on the "E Mixolydian Notation" page, with some shifts below the frets written.

From 3:35 onward, Kris uses E Mixolydian exclusively for improvising.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


cdawsoncdawson replied on April 1st, 2010

test

gibson22gibson22 replied on January 28th, 2010

hi great lessons i,am in the modes learning area. i no all my modes. i dont understand the scene 2 section on the chords part.can you help.thank rick

cdawsoncdawson replied on July 22nd, 2009

Seems like there was an issue in transferring that scene for high and super high qualities... medium and low seem ok but we'll get this corrected. Sorry for the mishap.

stratmusicstratmusic replied on July 22nd, 2009

Thanks!!!

stratmusicstratmusic replied on July 22nd, 2009

Is Scene 2 only supposed to be 28 seconds long? It seems to cut off prematurely in the middle of Kris explaining the chords.

Kris Norris Artist Series

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Kris Norris kicks off the JamPlay.com Artist Series with a wide array of ideas and lessons; from changing strings on a floyd rose, to advanced sweeping / legato techniques and soloing applications.



Lesson 1

Changing Strings - Floyd Rose Style

Kris Norris demonstrates how to install new strings on a guitar equipped with a Floyd Rose tremolo system.

Length: 13:43 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Warm-up Exercises with Kris

Kris Norris shows you his favorite warm-up exercises. These exercises will prepare you to play the guitar from a physical and mental standpoint.

Length: 12:16 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

Scalar Exercises: Left and Right Hand Synchronization

Kris covers chromatic and scale pattern exercises. Also, he explains some variations on these exercise and provides you with the knowledge to create your own variations. Now you don't have any excuse...

Length: 20:23 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 4

Scalar Exercises: Legato

Kris shows you the in's and out's of legato playing. These examples will benefit beginners and and advanced players alike. The patterns Kris uses in this lesson are based on the examples shown in "Scalar...

Length: 11:01 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

Chuggin' n Skippin'

Kris covers right hand techniques such as palm muting, tremolo, palm muted string skipping, and upstroke accents.

Length: 13:26 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

Advanced Sweep Picking Applications

Kris covers the right and left hand components of sweep picking separately. Then, he shows you how to synchronize the two. Three string arpeggios and five string arpeggios with hammer-ons are both included...

Length: 35:40 Difficulty: 4.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Remaining Foolish: Arpeggios & Scalar Lines

Kris presents excerpts from his song "Remaining Foolish" from Icons of the Illogical. He explains the arpeggio patterns used in various parts of the song and also talks about alternate picked arpeggios....

Length: 17:40 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Sweep Exercises Based on Canon in D

Kris uses Pachelbel's "Canon In D" as a way to practice arpeggio sweeps. He shows how to sweep and alternate pick arpeggios.

Length: 10:08 Difficulty: 4.5 Members Only
Lesson 9

Counterpoint: A Shift In Normalcy

This lesson is about the concept of counterpoint and harmony. Kris explores contrapuntal examples from his song "A Shift In Normalcy" off of his solo record Icons of the Illogical.

Length: 8:52 Difficulty: 4.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

A Closer Look At Pick Thickness

Kris analyzes different pick sizes and their effect on his playing. Using a slow motion camera, he is able to point out the differences in pick thickness.

Length: 32:24 Difficulty: 0.5 FREE
Lesson 11

Satriani Inspired Tapping

Kris Norris explains how to play a Joe Satriani inspired tapping etude.

Length: 11:13 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 12

Extending Your Musical Reach With 8 String Guitars

Kris Norris takes a look at 8 string guitars and their possibilities. He demonstrates the versatility of an 8 string with jazz and metal applications. Kris also performs a short improv jam at the end.

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Lesson 13

Neoclassical Inspirations

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Lesson 14

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Length: 15:25 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

Exotic Embellishments In The Style Of Marty Friedman

Kris teaches arpeggio examples that use notes outside of a scale. He also demonstrates an example using the Chinese scale.

Length: 12:19 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 16

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Kris shows you how to connect the patterns of a G major scale together.

Length: 15:28 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Mastering Modes: Basic Scale Theory Primer

This is the first lesson in the "Mastering Modes" mini series. Here Kris explains the fundamentals of scale basics.

Length: 19:08 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

Mastering Modes: Ionian

In this lesson, Kris explains the history behind the modes and then explains the Ionian mode.

Length: 9:59 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 19

Mastering Modes: Dorian

In this lesson, Kris covers the Dorian mode, which is the second mode of the major scale.

Length: 13:39 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 20

Mastering Modes: Phrygian

Kris explains the basics of the Phrygian mode, which is a minor sounding mode of the major scale.

Length: 7:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 21

Mastering Modes: Lydian

In this installment of the "Mastering Modes" mini-series, Kris covers the Lydian mode. This is the fourth mode of the major scale.

Length: 9:47 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 22

Mastering Modes: Mixolydian

Kris explains the basics of the Mixolydian mode, which is a major sounding mode of the major scale.

Length: 10:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 23

Mastering Modes: Aeolian

Kris explains Aeolian, which is the 6th mode of the major scale. This is also known as the natural minor scale.

Length: 7:32 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 24

Mastering Modes: Locrian

Kris covers the Locrian mode, which is the 7th mode of the major scale.

Length: 5:48 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 25

Song Workshop Experiment

Aaron Miller sits down with Kris in the JamPlay studio to discuss songwriting techniques.

Length: 78:38 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 26

Song Workshop Experiment - Finale

Kris Norris and Aaron Miller are back to finish up what they started. Get ready for more songwriting, playing tips, and inside information. Enjoy

Length: 32:00 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 27

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Kris shows how some drum rudiments can be used to make exercises for your right hand.

Length: 18:33 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 28

Sliding Arpeggios

Kris teaches how to use sliding techniques with arpeggios. He uses an example in the Lydian mode and also plays over a backing.

Length: 15:11 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Lesson 29

Left Hand Finger Independence

Kris teaches exercises focused on getting the left hand fingers to be more independent.

Length: 26:19 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 30

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Kris explains root triad arpeggios and their first and second inversions.

Length: 25:12 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 31

Practicing Triad Arpeggios Chromatically

This lesson focuses on sweep picking major, minor, and diminished triad arpeggios chromatically.

Length: 16:33 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 32

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Kris shows you how inversions can be used to create smooth voice leading within a progression.

Length: 14:34 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 33

Dual Tonality Pentatonics

Kris shows how to combine pentatonic scales from different keys to form new and interesting sounds.

Length: 24:06 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 34

Betcha Can't Scale This

Kris shows you how to learn scales vertically and horizontally on the fretboard.

Length: 16:11 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 35

The Neapolitan Chord

Named after the "Neapolitan School" from the 18th century and not ice cream, this chord is a major chord built on the lowered 2nd scale degree.

Length: 7:13 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 36

Diatonic Chords In G Major

Kris shows the diatonic chords of G Major.

Length: 19:42 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 37

Diatonic 7th Arpeggios

Kris teaches you how to play diatonic 7th arpeggios and their inversions in the key of G major.

Length: 15:47 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 38

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Kris shows you how to play seventh arpeggios with tapping, legato, and string skipping.

Length: 7:45 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 39

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Length: 27:24 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 40

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Kris installs these new EMG pickups into his guitar.

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Lesson 41

Workshop With Chodypth

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Length: 77:35 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only

About Kris Norris View Full Biography Mr. Kris Norris was born August, 31 1978 in Canton, Ohio. He began playing around the age of 14. Early on the self-taught guitarist took an interest in metal and began playing in a local Virginia metal band. Kris' early influences were rooted in Swedish metal, bands include In Flames, Dark Tranquility, and Edge of Sanity. Norwegian Black metal also played a part in Kris' interest including early Mayhem, Emperor, and Ulver. Kris started Disinterment with future Darkest Hour bandmate Ryan Parrish. Disinterment lasted over 6 years and developed a local following in the Virginia metal by being some of the first players to incorporate Swedish metal and 3 guitar players.

College Days
When Kris was 17 he attended Virgina Commonwealth University School of Music (VCU). He studied Music composition and focused on film with world renowned composer Dika Newlin. Kris also studied classical guitar with John Patykula, prize student of Jesus Silva who was the prize student of Andre Segovia. Kris left the University after 6 years of studies. After college, he began his teaching career instructing private students and giving lessons at Mars Music. Kris' teaching career would eventually be put on hold to join Darkest Hour.

Darkest Hour Days
Kris' first album with Darkest Hour ,Hidden Hands Of A Sadist Nation, the 2005 release was recorded at Studio Fredman in Gothenburg, Sweden with producer Fredrik Nordstrom. Ironically, the same studio facilitated many of Kris' influences 10 years prior.

Darkest Hour's next release, Undoing Ruin allowed Kris to stretch his wings and show what he could truly do on the instrument with the addition of several solos. The record was produced by Canadian metal mastermind Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad, Steve Vai). Townsend was a big part of pushing Kris to his own musical potential on Undoing Ruin and even more so on the follow up record, Deliver Us.

Deliver Us was released in 2007 and debuted at 110 on the Billboard Chart. This would be the last Darkest Hour record with Kris as a member. The album like its predecessor was also produced by Devin Townsend, who was able to take a bigger hand in its production. Devin pushed Kris to experiment with his own playing and to hone in on his strongest abilities.

Kris' career with Darkest Hour spanned 6 years, 23 countries, 4 continents, countless tours, 3 albums, near 200,000 album sales, and many lifelong friendships made along the way. With the birth of his son in 2008, Kris felt he needed to take his career closer to home while still focusing on music and guitar. In order for Darkest Hour to devote 100% to their music and touring, Kris came to the decision to amicably part ways with the band.

His Future:
As of early 2009, Kris has full sponsorships from ESP, EMG, Peavey, DigiTech, InTune, and Morley. Currently, Kris is producing and mixing aspiring metal acts while also working for Final Symphony Studios out of Charlottesville, Virgina. Kris also edits records for James Murphy (Testament, Obituary, Death) at Safehouse Productions. Kris has released his first solo record through Magna Carta Records, entitled Icons Of The Illogical. His solo effort was recorded at Karma Productions with Cory Smoot (GWAR) and features vocals from Lamb Of God frontman Randy Blythe.

Kris is excited to be an addition to the JamPlay Instructor Roster. Lending his metal chops and thorough education to his lessons make him a valuable teacher. Kris is excited to be making lessons for JamPlay and just as stoked to learn new things from our other instructors. Check it out and stay Metal.

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