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Banjo Lessons: Mixolydian Mode

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folks on the site have been talking about
wanting some theory classes here,
and many people start glazing over when
they hear about theory.
And my aim is not to do that, but I wanna
give you some concrete examples as
opposed to just talking about it, and
banjoistic examples as a matter of fact.
But I wanna start right now to talk about
the modes, and
this is something that you may have heard
of the Phrygian, or the Mixolydian,
or the Dorian, or the Ionian modes.
Sounds like Greek to me and in fact these
do date back to ancient Greece.
[COUGH] And I'm not gonna spend a long
time explaining them to you and for
starters I just wanna say that we're gonna
deal with the key of C.
And we're gonna have a keyboard showing up
here and
what we're going to start with was, we're
gonna play a C scale.
And on the piano.
That utilizes all the white keys.
There are no sharps or flats no, none of
the black keys.
And, the way that modes work,
if you're just starting going from C to C.
That's the standard do,
re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do, scale.
Now, the way modes
work is rather than starting on C, you'll
start on other notes in the scale.
And even though you're using other notes
to start with,
you're still only gonna play out of the C
So, let's say, you wanna play the
Mixolydian mode.
The Mixolydian mode starts on the fifth
note of the C scale, which is G.
So, if you go one, two, three, four, five,
there's your G note there.
I'm gonna start an octave lower on the
open third string.
Now remember, we're only gonna be playing
notes out of the C scale,
even though we're starting on, and ending
on G.
So, you go.
how does this sound different than a
regular G scale?
Well, a regular G scale would go.
The seventh note, one, two, three,
four, five, six, seven would be an F-sharp
or the fourth fret of the first string.
But since we're using notes of the C
With no sharps, we're going to the,
in the key of G would be the flatted
F on the third fret of the first string.
So, that's how this has a particular
flavor that's different than a regular
scale, and that's the nice thing about
using the modes and
thinking in terms of the modes.
Because suddenly you get these different
flavors, and
every mode has a different flavor.
Some are minor, some are major, one is a
diminished one, which is the Locrian mode,
but we'll talk about that at some other
And again, right now I'm just gonna deal
with the Mixolydian mode.
The Ionian mode, again, is just the C
scale, it's just your regular do,
re, mi scale.
So you're already playing out of the
Ionian scale, and some of you are already
playing out of the Mixolydian scale,
because as you've already seen when
you play this, notes of the C scale, in
and starting with the G and ending in G.
And again, there are no flats or
sharps, you have G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G.
So, again you have the F instead of the
And if any of you play June Apple.
That whole tune is in the Mixolydian mode.
So what I've done here is like I said,
we're just gonna focus on the Mixolydian
mode for this lesson, and I've come up
with some scale patterns, and
an etude to give you a little more
experience playing out of the sound.
And for me, it's very, it's been very
exciting because
getting to write music in a particular
mode limits you as opposed to okay,
I wanna write a tune and you can sorta use
whatever notes you want.
By limiting yourself and saying, I can
only use these notes, it somehow enhances,
in my case anyway, I'm finding that it's
enhancing my creativity, and kinda opening
new doors for me, so it's been very
exciting preparing these lessons.
But let's start with the scale pattern
right here, and.
What your going to be doing is you're
gonna start with the first three notes of
the G scale.
Or let's say with the Mixolydian mode.
So, you go up three notes, and
then you start going back to the first
So it's one, two, three, one.
These are the degrees of the scale.
Then two, three, four, two, three, four,
five, three, and so forth.
And then there's your flatted seventh,
F on the sixth fret of the second string,
so you have.
And your middle finger's gonna be on
the inside, there, going on to the second
string instead of the first string.
Okay, so there's one to try out.
Then here's a descending one.
Okay, here's an etude I came up with to
give you an idea of how you can apply the
Mixolydian Mode directly.
This is you know, a little bit fancier,
it's not a beginning sort of a thing but,
let me play it for you and you'll get a
sense of where this is at.
Okay, slow down, you have.
So again these are this,
this etude is just using notes out of the
mixolydian scale.
G scale with a flatted seventh.
[SOUND] But again, just the white keys in
the key of C.
[COUGH] But now I've moved everything into
the key of G.
So, it begins with
Just, just a simple
[MUSIC] Pinching there. And then
You're basically outlining an F chord and
I'm using the pinky on the seventh fret of
the first string.
Back to this.
A little bit tricky bit of a grab there,
but I'm [SOUND] I have my middle finger on
the tenth fret of the third string [SOUND]
And I quickly grab the fifth string with
my thumb at the tenth fret.
[SOUND] Same fret.
[SOUND] And then I let go of the thumb and
have the, you're basically in your
blackberry position, blackberry blossom
position here.
Index to the [SOUND] Ninth
fret of the first [SOUND] Tenth fret of
the second with the middle.
And then [SOUND] The middle goes over one
string to
the tenth fret of the third string.
You might find something that feels
better to you than that.
That's what worst for
me anyway so, and then continuing
And then you do this again.
[SOUND] But now, you jump up to the tenth
fret of the first two string and
I'm barring.
I'm sorry.
i'm jumping to that bar at the tenth fret,
[SOUND] Hit the second string.
And I get the ring on the 12th fret of the
first string, [SOUND] And then
Backward roll.
Fretting the tenth fret of the first two
Then the index just slides down to
the sixth fret of the second string.
[SOUND] Ring on the seventh fret of the
first string.
[SOUND] Let go of the ring into a forward
roll [SOUND] Versus.
[SOUND] And then the index on the fifth
fret of the third, open-
[SOUND] Second, ring on the seventh fret
of the fourth,.
[SOUND] And then index on the third fret
of the fourth string.
And then that repeats.
And then it also goes into the B part.
And, I start with a grouping of six.
One, [SOUND] two, [SOUND] three, [SOUND]
four, [SOUND] five,.
[SOUND] six.
[SOUND] And then I start that
same pattern again.
[SOUND] two,.
[SOUND] three,.
[SOUND] four,.
[SOUND] five,.
[SOUND] Six,.
[SOUND] Except that it continues on.
So, you have
this kind of a syncopation cuz you're
starting first on the downbeat, one,.
[SOUND] Two,.
[SOUND] three,.
[SOUND] four, [SOUND] five,.
[SOUND] six.
[SOUND] So, I went one,.
[SOUND] Two,.
[SOUND] Three,
[SOUND] Four, [SOUND] Five,.
[SOUND] Six, [SOUND] One.
[SOUND] So, it's one [SOUND] And two.
[SOUND] And [SOUND] So, you're starting on
the downbeat.
And then you're starting on the end of
[SOUND] Index, middle
I let go of that sixth fret of the second
So, I have separation of notes.
This is the third measure of part B.
And then, I put it down again and
add the pinky on the seventh fret of the
first string.
Let go of the pinky,
forward roll
And then, return to that grouping of six.
And now, another grouping of six.
One, [SOUND]
[SOUND] Three, [SOUND] Four, [SOUND]
[SOUND] Six, [SOUND] Just to start off the
I'm basically positioning myself around
the D position F chord.
Even though I'm not playing just those
notes, so it's.
Ring, index, middle and,
And then,
doing the inside notes with the F chord
down here.
So there's the mixolydian mode.
So let me see what you're doing with the
mixolydian lesson.
I'd love to see a video for video
if you could submit one of those.
And I know this is a little bit dicier
than some of the other things I've got up
on the site, some of the other lessons.
Especially, the etude.
But, if you just want to play some of the
some of the scale patterns,
that would be great.
Or if you wanted to take on this this
etude I'd love hear how,
how you make out with that and
see if you have any questions about the
fingering or that sort of a thing.
So I wanted to send you the video