“No Rain” by Blind Melon is a great example of using major scale patterns on the guitar fretboard, as well as major scale modes. During the lead guitar sections, the chord changes are E-D. These chords are V and IV (5 and 4) out of the A major scale. Because the music centers on the major scale’s 5th degree (in this case, E), the fifth mode, Mixolydian, is produced. Because E is the primary pitch in the music, most musicians prefer to number it “1.” When expressed in Roman Numerals, which is common to music theory, the E-D chord progression becomes I-bVII. That’s 1 (E) and flat-seven (D). If E is the first scale degree, then a D natural is a b7th.
Playing E Mixolydian Mode
You can add lead lines and melody to this E Mixolydian mode chord progression by using notes from the A major scale, which is the scale from which the chords are drawn. Because the 5th degree of the A major scale, E, is heard as the primary note, this produces the sound of an E Mixolydian scale (which is also called the dominant scale). The opening guitar riff in “No Rain” uses notes straight out of the A major/E Mixolydian scale as demonstrated in the video above.
Free No Rain Guitar Tab
Follow along with free “No Rain” guitar tab below.
Modal Scale Patterns
Contrary to popular belief, playing Mixolydian mode does not require you to learn new scale patterns. Instead, you simply use the notes of A major. Additionally, you can use A major scale notes in any position and pattern. However you form A major scale patterns, the notes will always produce the sound of E Mixolydian mode when you play over the E-D chord progression, because the chord changes orient your ear to the 5th scale degree, E.
Learn More About Guitar Modes
Guitar modes and their use is covered at length in my video program, Fretboard Theory. Click the link for more details.
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