I was wondering recently, whether mixolydian, lacking the lead tone but otherwise being very similar to major (ionic), was a scale we could use for writing whole songs in.

In Jazz theory, the basic chords for a major scale can be built by layering thirds over each tone in the scale. This gives us for C major


For C mixolydian, if we layer thirds, we get

C7 Dm7 Em7♭5 Fmaj7 Gm7 Am7 B♭7

I.e. the Cmaj7's lead tone B is flattened in the mixolydian scale, so there we would get C7 instead of Cmaj7, etc.

Now my actual question: Would it make sense to use these chords to harmonize a mixolydian melody?

2 Answers 2


Yes, absolutely. This can be used to great effect.

The minor seventh five chord (v7) in particular has an absolutely sublime quality to it.

There is of course no reason why not to mix this with other chord sets within the same song. Without getting too long winded as to why, often swapping out the third degree for another minor 7th is worth a try if you find yourself navigating around that territory. Nothing against half diminished chords, love them to bits, just rarely in that specific context.

  • 'minor seven flat five'?
    – Tim
    Oct 11, 2017 at 6:53
  • @Tim I meant the minor 7th chord on the fifth scale degree, hopefully that's a bit clearer now
    – Some_Guy
    Oct 11, 2017 at 9:36

Mixolydian is definitely a mode you can write whole songs in. Some of the most prominent Mixolydian music I remember is the G Mixolydian and C Mixolydian portions of Holst's "Jupiter" from The Planets. (The G Mixolydian portion starts off with G-D-E-F-E-D in the melody.)

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