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Mixolydian mode may refer to one of three things: the name applied to one of the ancient Greek harmoniai or tonoi, based on a particular octave species or scale; one of the medieval church modes; a modern musical mode or diatonic scale, related to the medieval mode. (The Hypomixolydian mode of medieval music, by contrast, has no modern counterpart.)
The idea of a Mixolydian mode comes from the music theory of ancient Greece. The invention of the ancient Greek Mixolydian mode was attributed to Sappho, the 7th-century-B.C. poet and musician. However, what the ancient Greeks thought of as Mixolydian was very different from the modern interpretation of the mode.
In Greek theory, the Mixolydian tonos (the term "mode" is a later Latin term) employs a scale (or "octave species") corresponding to the Greek Hypolydian mode inverted. In its diatonic genus, this is a scale descending from paramese to hypate hypaton. In the diatonic genus, a whole tone (paramese to mese) followed by two conjunct inverted Lydian tetrachords (each being two whole tones followed by a semitone descending). This diatonic genus of the scale is roughly the equivalent of playing all the white notes of a piano from B to B, which is also known as modern Locrian mode.
Medieval Mixolydian and Hypomixolydian
The term Mixolydian was originally used to designate one of the traditional harmoniai of Greek theory. It was appropriated later (along with six other names) by 2nd-century theorist Ptolemy to designate his seven tonoi or transposition keys. Four centuries later, Boethius interpreted Ptolemy in Latin, still with the meaning of transposition keys, not scales.
When chant theory was first being formulated in the 9th century, these seven names plus an eighth, Hypermixolydian (later changed to Hypomixolydian), were again re-appropriated in the anonymous treatise Alia Musica. A commentary on that treatise, called the Nova expositio, first gave it a new sense as one of a set of eight diatonic species of the octave, or scales. The name Mixolydian came to be applied to one of the eight modes of medieval church music: the seventh mode. This mode does not run from B to B on white notes, as the Greek mode, but was defined in two ways: as the diatonic octave species from G up one octave to the G above, or as a mode whose final was G and whose ambitus runs from the F below the final to the G above, with possible extensions "by licence" up to A above and even down to E below, and in which the note D (the tenor of the corresponding seventh psalm tone) had an important melodic function. This medieval theoretical construction led to the modern use of the term for the natural scale from G to G.
The seventh mode of western church music is an authentic mode based on and encompassing the natural scale from G to G, with the perfect fifth (the D in a G to G scale) as the dominant, reciting note or tenor.
The plagal eighth mode was termed Hypomixolydian (or "lower Mixolydian") and, like the Mixolydian, was defined in two ways: as the diatonic octave species from D to the D an octave higher, divided at the mode final, G (thus D–E–F–G + G–A–B–C–D); or as a mode with a final of G and an ambitus from C below the final to E above it, in which the note C (the tenor of the corresponding eighth psalm tone) had an important melodic function.
The modern Mixolydian scale is the fifth mode of the major scale (Ionian mode). That is, it can be constructed by starting on the fifth scale degree (the dominant) of the major scale. Because of this, the Mixolydian mode is sometimes called the dominant scale.
This scale has the same series of tones and semitones as the major scale, but with a minor seventh. As a result, the seventh scale degree is a subtonic, rather than a leading-tone. The flattened seventh of the scale is a tritone away from the mediant (major-third degree) of the key. The order of whole tones and semitones in a Mixolydian scale is
- whole, whole, half, whole, whole, half, whole
Notable music in Mixolydian mode
- "Old Joe Clark"
- "Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore" – A traditional Irish folk song.
- "She Moved Through the Fair" – A traditional Irish folk song.
- "Fughetta super: Dies sind die heilgen zehn Gebot" in G major from Clavier-Übung III, BWV 679 by Johann Sebastian Bach
- Piano Concerto in A minor, third movement, by Edvard Grieg
- Concerto in modo misolidio, P 145 (1925) by Ottorino Respighi
- Et resurrexit from Beethoven's Missa solemnis
- Harikambhoji, the equivalent scale in Carnatic music.
- Khamaj, the equivalent scale in Hindustani music.
- V–IV–I turnaround, a common modal chord progression when spelled as I–♭VII–IV
- Backdoor cadence
- Anne Carson (ed.), If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho (New York: Vintage Books, 2002), p. ix. ISBN 978-0-375-72451-0. Carson cites Pseudo-Plutarch, On Music 16.113c, who in turn names Aristoxenus as his authority.
- Thomas J. Mathiesen, "Greece", The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edition, 29 vols., edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell, (London: Macmillan Publishers, 2001), 10:339. ISBN 1-56159-239-0 OCLC 44391762.
- Harold S. Powers, "Dorian", The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell (London: Macmillan Publishers, 2001).
- Harold S. Powers and Frans Wiering, "Mixolydian", The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edition, 29 vols., edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell, 16:766–767 (London: Macmillan Publishers, 2001), 767. ISBN 978-1-56159-239-5.
- Harold S. Powers and Frans Wiering, "Hypomixolydian", The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edition, 29 vols., edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell, 12:38 (London: Macmillan Publishers, 2001) ISBN 978-1-56159-239-5.
- Dan Haerle, Scales for Jazz Improvisation (Hialeah: Columbia Pictures Publications; Lebanon, Indiana: Studio P/R; Miami: Warner Bros, 1983), p. 15. ISBN 978-0-89898-705-8.
- Arnie Berle, "The Mixolydian Mode/Dominant Seventh Scale", in Mel Bay's Encyclopedia of Scales, Modes and Melodic Patterns: A Unique Approach to Developing Ear, Mind and Finger Coordination (Pacific, Missouri: Mel Bay Publications, 1997): p. 33. ISBN 978-0-7866-1791-3 OCLC 48534968
- Dick Weissman and Dan Fox, A Guide to Non-Jazz Improvisation: Guitar Edition (Pacific, Missouri: Mel Bay Publications, 2009): p. 130. ISBN 978-0-7866-0751-8.
- Wendy Anthony, "Building a Traditional Tune Repertoire: Old Joe Clark (Key of A-Mixolydian) Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine", Mandolin Sessions webzine (February 2007) |(Accessed 2 February 2010).
- Ted Eschliman, "Something Old. Something New Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine", Mandolin Sessions webzine (November 2009) (Accessed 2 February 2010).
- Allen, Patrick (1999). Developing Singing Matters. Oxford: Heinemann Educational Publishers. p. 22. ISBN 0-435-81018-9. OCLC 42040205.[dead link]
- Walter Piston. Harmony (New York: W. W. Norton, 1941): pp. 29–30.
- "Concerto in Modo Misolidio for Piano and Orchestra – Three Preludes on Gregorian Themes" by Adriano, English adaptation by David Nelson, Naxos Records cat. 8.220176 (1986)