Things You Never Use in Your Solos – Mixolydian

We are always looking for new ideas and things to use in our solos so that we can keep improving and stay inspired. In this lesson I am going to go over three examples of some less common ideas that you can add into you vocabulary when using Mixolydian, so if you are playing over a dominant chord. I chose to keep it in a more modal context than in a cadence since these ideas are very useful and easy to study on a static or modal background.

For each of the licks I have also added some exercises to get familiar with the new structure and talk a little about how to use them in jazz licks.

Scale, Chord, Mode and all that

The examples in this lesson are all on a D7 chord, so I am using D mixolydian which is of course the same as G major, since D7 is the dominant of G. Below in example 1 a position of the G major or D mixolyidan scale is shown.

Quintal Harmony – The sound of the Police.

The first structure you can experiment with is the quintal arpeggio. As you hear me play in the video this arpeggio is associated with the sound of Andy Sumners from the Police. That said, if you ask a jazz piano player he might talk about how Kenny Barron is using it a lot and Hendrix was fond of it as well, so it is certainly not unique to the Police.

A good way to check this arpeggio out is to consider it a diatonic arpeggio and play it through the scale, In example 2 I have done this on the A, D & G string set.

One note per string exercises like this are always great for your right hand if you alternate pick.

Another very useful exercise is to take the quintal arpeggio and play it through a position of the scale. Probably this is more for overview and to connect it with the scale than for speed.

A Jazz Guitar Lick with Quintal Arpeggios

On the D7 chord there are of course several different options for a quintal arpeggios. In this example I am using the one from the 5th: A E B, which related to a D root: 5th, 9th and 13th.

The lick starts with the quintal arpeggio and from there continues with a descending scale run down to the 1 of the 2nd bar. In the 2nd bar the melody is first a quartal arpeggio from C: C F# B which is also what you might know as a D7(13) without the root. The Last part of the lick is a scale run in a 3 note per string B minor (or D major) pentatonic scale.

The Forgotten Triad Pairs

Usually when you see people work with Triad Pairs in improvisation they stick with the two major triads next to each other and work with that sound. So in a C major context that would be F and G major triads.  In fact you can choose any set of two triads next to each other and use that as a triad pair and often you can find a set that works better with the chord you are using it on than the two major triads.

In this example I am making a triad pair by removing the one note that you can’t really emphasize on a D7: G. If we take that note a way we are left with 6 notes in the scale and those 6 notes form the Am and Bm triads.

There are several ways to work on these triad pairs. Here is first the Am and Bm triads in the position. I play them in inversions alternating the Am and Bm triads.

Here is a similar exercise but on the A,D and G string set.

Triad Pair melodies: Beautiful intervals

The lick using the triad pairs is almost exclusively using the triad pairs. The first part is chaining together Am root position and a Bm 2nd inversion. From there it continues with a 315 pattern of the Am and the same for the Bm triad. The ending is a smale melody fragment constructed from an Am triad.

The exotic Sus4 options

In my recent lesson on Melodic Minor I also talk about the diatonic sus4 triads (check it out: HERE).

The Sus4 triads are a great sound, they are of course also related to quintal and quartal harmony since: Asus4 is A D E,  E A D is a quartal arpeggio and D A E is a quintal arpeggio.

The first sus4 arpeggio that I am using is an F#dim(sus4). F#dim is F# A C, and F#dim(sus4) is F# B C.  This is in fact spelling out the core of the D7 Mixolydian with C and F# and adding a 13th with the B.

You may recognize the arpeggio as the opening statement in the Joe Henderson piece Inner Urge.

The arpeggio is shown in the position here below:

The other arpeggio I use is an Asus4 arpeggio. This is shown in position here below in example 9:

The sus4 triads are a great way to add extensions and also get some larger intervals in the lick because they by design already contain a 4th and a 5th interval.

Mixolydian Sus4 triads in Action!

The Line starts with a simple statement of the basic chord: D and F#. This is used as a motif and played in reverse a step lower: E C. The last half of the first bar is an Em pentatonic fragment. In the 2nd bar the melody is the F#dim(sus4) arpeggio in 2 octaves. 

Putting all of this to use!

Of course the point of these exercises and the licks are to demonstrate what is possible with these structures. For all of the ideas there are many more options available if you try to find other sus4 triads or triad pairs. 

The material in this lesson doesn’t become really useful until you work a bit with it and start making your own lines, so don’t forget to incorporate it in your own playing!

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Thing You Never Use in Your Solos – Mixolydian

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