Sorry if this is a simple question, I tried googling it but couldn't get any good answers.

I am playing an open (low) E string on a guitar and then at the same time playing an A major scale on the open A string ( 0 2 4 5 7 9 11 12 ), while letting the E note drone the entire time.

Im fairly sure this is some kind of mode because i know playing the major scale and accenting a "different" root is one way of understanding them. It sounds somewhat psychedelic but I don't know enough about theory to identify it.

Appreciate any insight.

  • If you play something like 5 7 9 7 2 9 7 9 5 4 2 5 7 12 11 7 5 7 on the A string as the melody, then it could be E mixolydian. But if your melody is 0 2 4 5 7 9 11 12 on the A string, it's not any special mode, even with the low E as drone. IMO. Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 20:51

2 Answers 2


That would be E Mixolydian, because E is the 5th degree of the A major scale, and the 5th degree is where the Mixolydian mode starts.

The Mixolydian mode is just like a major scale, but with a flat 7th, so it's associated with dominant 7th chords.

In your case, playing an A major scale with an E on the bass would naturally fit an E7 chord.

  • Probably the most defining thing is 'which chord fits best over the sequence?' With those notes, any belonging to A diatonically could fit, but now OP has said E and B, it has to be E Mixolydian.
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 6:29

@MMazzon is right but there is another way of thinking of this and that depends on you. I have a question for you, when you play your A scale over the low E are you thinking melodically in A or E? The reason I ask is if you’re thinking in E then it’s E mixolydian like MMazzon said. If you’re thinking in A then you’re playing in A major with a 5th (E) pedal in the bass.

  • 1
    I agree with this. Playing an A major scale as a melody starting and ending on A doesn't create any mixolydian feelings to me. It's just regular A major key or at most A ionian stuck on something like an A/E chord. If you want to make it E mixolydian, you have to play a melody that's centered on E. If the melody is just the A major scale played simply in ascending order, it's definitely not centered on E in any way. Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 20:46
  • @piiperiReinstateMonica that’s why I asked the OP that question, his/her melodic key center is what defines it. Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 21:12
  • To answer your question when riffing around with this i feel like the tonal center is E, where hitting the low E and 7th fret on the A string (an octave) sounds the most "home"
    – xyfer
    Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 21:27
  • In that case it’s E mixolydian, enjoy your riffing! Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 0:47

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