Rock Guitar Lick 26: Mixolydian Lick Using Sliding Sixths

In the last guitar lesson, we looked at a lick that used a lot of third intervals. So I thought it would be fun in this lesson to take a look at another type of interval. To do this I’ll be showing you an A Mixolydian guitar lick that uses sixth intervals.

If you’ve read the theory we covered in the last lesson, then you might recall the following two fascinating morsels of information…

  • An interval is the distance in pitch between two notes.
  • A third is an interval that encompasses three letters from the musical alphabet.

So what do you think an interval of a sixth is?

Yep—you guessed it. An interval of a sixth is one that encompasses six letters from the musical alphabet. Let’s see what an example of a sixth interval in the A Mixolydian mode looks like…

Sixths Example: A to F#

If we now work out the next sixth interval, that will give us the distance between B and G

Sixths Example: B to G

If we do the same thing, but start from the note C#, we will end up with this sixth interval…

Sixths Example: C# to A

If we worked out the remaining sixth intervals using the same process, then we would end up with these four bad boys…

  • D to B
  • E to C#
  • F# to D
  • G to E

Now that we’ve worked out all of the sixth intervals in the A Mixolydian mode, you’re ready to start learning the lick…

Rock Guitar Lick 26: Mixolydian Lick Using Sliding Sixths

Rock Guitar Lick 26: Mixolydian Lick Using Sliding Sixths

The first half of this guitar lick uses a concept that I call sliding sixths. It involves playing a 3-note melodic pattern that (in this lick) is repeated five times. If you look closely at the first three notes of the lick, you’ll be able to see that playing the pattern involves doing this…

  • Playing a note on the G-string.
  • Moving to the thin E-string and playing a note that is a sixth higher than the first note.
  • Descending down a sixth interval and playing the first note again.

The second half of the lick is constructed entirely of notes from an A Dominant Seventh arpeggio. To make the notes of the arpeggio sound more interesting, I’ve mixed up the notes and used a lot of string skipping to create some fairly large intervals. To my ears, this makes the arpeggio sound a lot more exciting than if you just played it in a straight up and down fashion.

To help you see what I’ve just talked about more clearly, here’s the lick again with some written notes added to it…

Rock Guitar Lick 26 Explained

You might have noticed that I’ve used the symbol a a lot in the TAB. What this means is that for all the notes with an a symbol above them, you should finger-pick using the third finger of your picking-hand (i.e. your ring finger).

Combining using a pick with finger-picking is often called hybrid picking, and is definitely a very useful thing to become comfortable with. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail in this lesson about it. So if you want some more detailed advice on hybrid-picking, you might want to watch the videos I’ve provided for these lessons…

I’m not sure if you’ve practised Mixolydian Alternate Picking Lick 1. If you have, then you’ll remember how that lick combined eighth note triplets and sixteenth notes. I thought it would be fun to include the same rhythmic challenge with the lick in this lesson. So, for the first bar of the lick you’ll need to play eighth note triplets. Once you’ve completed the first bar, you’ll then need to instantly change to sixteenth notes. Chock-full of fun! 🙂

Have fun!

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