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In the following examples we illustrate a basic Mixolydian scale, a 7th arpeggio or two and finally, examples of the minor five chord in melodic ideas.

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I’ve heard people use some crazy names for the mixolydian mode—one of my favorites has to be the “Nickelodeon” scale! This scale is very similar to the Ionian or major scale. As a matter of fact, it’s identical with the exception of a flatted 7th scale degree (1–2–3–4–5–6–b7) and can really add new color to your lead work. A common vantage point is that the Mixolydian scale is based off the 5th degree of the major scale. For example, a C major scale would be C–D–E–F–G–A–B. If we use the same notes but start on the 5th degree we have G Mixolydian. If you compare that with a G major scale (G–A–B–C–D–E–F#) you can see how the flat 7th changes things. If we extract and combine the 1–3–5–b7 from the scale, we have a dominant 7th chord. This scale can also be utilized over other forms of the dominant chord, such as 9th, 11th, and 13th chords since each of these contain the basic dominant 7th chord tones.

As a young guitarist, I noticed that a progression that I kept coming across was I–I7–IV. When I would solo over the I-IV chord change I’d emphasize the b7, giving my lead work some Mixolydian characteristics. The b7 of the one-chord (I), is the 4th degree of the four-chord (IV), and when I move to the (IV), it resolves the tension by creating the 4-3 suspension, as the (IV) chord contains the 3rd. It leads the melodic line smoothly from the I to IV.

This concept is simple enough but there are other elements to this mode that are certainly noteworthy. The diatonic chords in the Mixolydian mode are a bit different than the chords in a typical Ionian. One of my favorite differences is the minor dominant chord or minor five. Playing in major keys, and even in minor keys (harmonic or melodic minor) you get a major dominant chord. The minor dominant chord is one of the defining characteristics of the mixolydian mode.

By studying and applying the Mixolydian mode, I made use of this minor dominant when moving from the I chord to the IV chord. Instead of I–I7–IV I would use I–v–IV or G–Dm–C, if we were in the key of G. In my soloing, it gives an almost outside sound and allows me to break out of typical blues based lead guitar work.

In the following examples I’ll first illustrate a basic Mixolydian scale, a 7th arpeggio or two and finally, examples of the minor five chord in melodic ideas.

Example 1 is a Mixolydian scale encompassing all six strings. Remember the Mixolydian scale is based on the 5th degree of the major scale. You could say this is a D major parent scale making the 5th (A) the new root. Download example audio...


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Continue learning the fundamentals that Jeff Beasley is presenting in this series on the Locrian/diminished scale.

More Detailed Diminished
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Welcome Premier Guitar readers to the second edition of Detailed Diminished here in Lethal Guitar, thanks for logging on and tuning in! Last issue we discussed the Locrian/diminished scale which is simply taking the 7th tone of the major scale—“Ti”—and making it the new home tone or root of the same scale. The 7th tone of the major scale when harmonized gives us a diminished chord and therefore the scale (Locrian), syncs up with the diminished chord.

Initially this approach to the major scale will challenge the depth of your ear. Over time and with practice, especially playing it over diminished or minor 7th flat 5 chords (half-diminished), your ear will gain depth in its understanding and comprehension of the Locrian/diminished scale and the incredible importance it holds for you as a musician.

This issue, let’s get more acquainted with the 7th tone of the major scale, as it is harmonized into a diminished or m7b5 chord. The chord in its most basic form (triad) contains the 7th tone “Ti”, the 2nd tone “Re”, and the 4th tone “Fa” of the major scale. Notice the distances between the notes, from Ti to Re is three half-steps and from Re to Fa is three half-steps. Two things are important about these distances: First, the distances are the same or equidistant from 1 to 3 and 3 to 5. Second, the distance from the root of the chord Ti to the 5th of the chord Fa is only six half-steps, instead of seven half-steps in a common major or minor chord. In other words the distance from 1 to 5 has diminished, and yes that’s where the chord gets its name!

Now whenever you have a chord that has the equidistant quality, some very interesting things become available to you. We’ll cover some of those in the next few issues. In this edition let’s apply one tool of this equidistant quality to the diminished chord by breaking it into an arpeggio.

Example 1: Here is a common, symmetrical approach to the diminished arpeggio. Notice the distances between each note is a minor 3rd or 3 half-steps. You can pick every note or hammer-on, preferably both. There is a bit of horizontal movement with the fretting hand and a whole-step jump between strings 3 and 4, making it a little more challenging to reach. Practice this ascending and descending:

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Example 2:
In this example we utilize the common approach in example 1, and implement the equidistant quality from a different vantage point. Notice the beginning point of each new section is 3 half-steps higher than the beginning point of the last arpeggio:

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Example 3:
Now we utilize the minor third approach by combining vertical and horizontal ideas with the minor 3rd, maintaining the 3 half-step integrity:

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Example 4:
Another example of vertical and horizontal movement in minor 3rds descending in pitch:

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Example 5:
More horizontal movement quickly building tension as we ascend in pitch:

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Example 6:
Again we quickly build tension in the listener by ascending, with an emphasis on the minor 3rd movement in the bass:

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There ya go guys! We’re starting out with the fundamentals, so please pay close attention to the explanations I give in the text as well as the illustrations presented. It’s very important that you have a solid understanding of the concepts as I present them in each issue of the series. So, mull them over and apply the concepts on your instrument. Really think about what you’re doing and see how it utilizes the math given here. If you do, your knowledge of the diminished idea will blossom into an awesome tool for you as a player and add genuine depth to you as a guitarist no matter what style(s) you enjoy.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have and I’ll be glad to help you out in your quest to become a better player. God bless and I’ll see you next issue.

Learning the basics of the diminished scale so you can apply it to your playing

More Detailed Diminished
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Happy New Year Premier Guitar readers! Let's kick off 2010 and another exciting year edition of Lethal Guitar together! As all of my faithful readers know, every year I have several guests in my column and this year will be no different. I have several of my guitar/gun-slinging friends lined up to assist me in getting you, my readers, to where you want to be as guitarists. I also have some lesson series I’ll be covering this year, the first being a genuine comprehension and application of the diminished concept.

Rock guitarists usually have a smattering of an understanding of the diminished idea, but that’s about it! A lot of players would like to incorporate it more, but just don’t know how to. In this series I’m going give you an in depth look into the diminished realm, helping you to truly understand and apply it to your everyday guitar playing and/or writing. First let’s discuss the diminished concept…

The origin of the diminished concept is in the major or Ionian scale. If you look at that scale, there are 7 different tones “Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La-Ti-Do”. If we take the 7th tone “Ti” and make it the root we have a basic Locrian/Diminished scale. The scale syncs up perfectly with a diminished chord. Here’s why: each tone of the major scale can be harmonized into a chord, for example the 1st tone “Do” (major chord), 2nd tone “Re” (minor chord), 3rd tone “Mi” (minor chord), etc. When you harmonize the 7th tone, “Ti,” it becomes a diminished chord. Thus the Locrian scale (based on the 7th tone) fits perfectly with a diminished chord. We’ll go much deeper than this, but for now this is a great place to start.

Now I’ll illustrate different forms of the Locrian scale for you. In each example I’ll stop on the root of the scale, and I encourage you to do the same as this will give your ear a better understanding of the mode and help you to gain depth in your aural comprehension of Locrian. After you’ve completed the 5th form of the scale you’ll be exactly one octave higher from where you started with the first form of the scale. You should notice that the five forms repeat at the octave!


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We’re just beginning our path through the diminished scale and are at the precipice of applying this idea to your everyday playing. Get acclimated to these fingerings and we’ll explore their use in the coming articles. I’ve got lots to show you so hang in there, it gets better and better. There’s a bit of theory involved but, I’ll walk you in step-by-step! Remember to practice slowly at first, always use a metronome and a clean tone. Thanks for logging on and tuning in, see you next month in Lethal Guitar.