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Can I play the notes of the C mixolydian for a solo in a song that is in the key of C?

3 Answers 3

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Yes - or no. The Mixolydian scale notes contain the ♭7 note. If the piece doesn't call for this note, it won't fit well. Given that the piece has I, IV and V, it might or might not work well. There just isn't enough information here to answer intelligently.

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  • Fully agree, but the question being to whether it is "possible", I guessed its more important for the OP to approach music from a more playful approach first, and understand why the b7 might not work first through own ears, later with theory (therefore it doesn't matter what OPs music "in C" contains).
    – hirschme
    May 9, 2020 at 20:16
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Yes. In principle you can (and should) do anything you can think of, and evaluate if you want to do it based on how it sounds. If it sounds good to you, go for it.

That said, using modes of a key is very common. Playing mixolydian is one of the foundations of blues, so you should be able to recognize a very popular sound when playing C mixolydian.

Try other modes of C as well, play the major modes (Ionian, Lydian, Mixolydian) over a song in C major, play minor modes on songs in C minor (Dorian, Aeolian, Phrygian). Or combine them. Internalize how they all sound, how are they different, and how their sound affects your playing.

You can check this video out if you want to listen to a comparison of the modes of the major scale, with some descriptions (starting around 4:28)

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First, let's establish that we're talking about C Mixolydian - that's C, D, E, F, G, A, B♭, C - rather that the Mixolydian mode of the C major scale - G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G. The latter, is of course trivial - it IS the C major scale!

Yes, you can flatten the 7th in C major. A very basic Blues thing to do. That could be described as using the C Mixolydian scale. You can flatten the 3rd as well. That would be C Aeolian.

And you can do many other things as well. Try not to use 'theory' to give you permission to do things. Use it rather to catalogue things you find in real music, or things you discover for yourself. I'm afraid there isn't a 'theory of everything' in music that you can learn and then automatically come up with good music.

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