Need Help Understanding "Chord Scales"


Could somebody help me understand chord scales? I was going through a funk guitar book the other day and this topic was covered but they did a poor job explaining it. The two examples below are given as "chord scales in G mixolydian"

It sounds great when you play these shapes in order. I've seen them used many times in funk music but I would like to understand what's going on. I am pretty good at visualizing the fretboard but I cannot see how this relates to G mixo.

In the first example, I see the triads Em, Am, G, C, F, G, etc. All I can see is that the triads relate to the Gmixo scale but nothing more. What am I missing? I have a feeling it's something very obvious but the book doesn't really explain it.

G Mixolydian


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You're not missing anything:). The phrase "chord scales" does have other meanings*, but here they simply mean the chords harmonised from the scale. Triads in this case.
You can harmonise 7ths, 9ths, sus chords, anything you want. Just limit your notes to the scale in question.

The triads shown are also useful as rootless 7th voicings, btw:
Cmaj7 Fmaj7 Em7 Am7   G9  Cmaj7   G9   Cmaj7
  G7   Am7  Dm7  Em7  Dm7   Em7   Dm7
In modal music, it's quite common to play various random harmonisations - somewhat like the above - from the mode in use, rather than specific chords (or one specific chord throughout). Modal harmony is static, and this can help it sound more fluid and interesting.
It's not "chord progressions" as such, because the order you play them in doesn't matter - unlike in key-based music, where the order is crucial, and chords "lead" from one to another.
In this context (G mixolydian), provided the bass is playing G, or some riff based on G, that series of shapes (in any order you like) will outline the sound of the mode.
(The shapes containing F notes will be most significant: IOW the Dm7 (F triad), G7 or G9 (Dm triad) shapes shown above.)

* The main other meaning of "chord scale" is the jazz system of associating a specific scale (or scales) with a specific chord type.
Eg, a maj7#11 chord means lydian mode, while 7#11 means lydian dominant, and 7#9 means altered.


"chord scales": a term used to make something relatively simple more complex.

What you show above is a scale harmonized in triads. Call it a harmonized scale.

The other uses of "chord scale" are BS too. There's chords (more than 2 notes played simultaneously), there's scales (a collection of notes that contain a recipe for obtaining a certain sound), and there's chord tones (the individual tones that make up chords, which themselves are derived from scales). Calling it anything fancy is pure masturbation.


Thanks for your insights. I need to look closely at the notes in the examples, but are you saying that EVERY note in ALL these triads are in G mixo (G, A, B, C, D, E, F)?

Finally: In terms of learning these, would you suggest eschewing theory (I'm not a theory expert and don't want to make things harder than necessary) and simply memorizing the shapes?

I found that you can create all sorts of grooves just messing around with them. If it's a matter of memorizing (and then transposing to other keys), I would be all for it.


I think we are complicating things here

The Mixolydian scale is the Major (Ionian) scale played from the 5th step
Thats what they are trying to explain

Take C major and harmonize it
7: B C D E F G A
5: G A B C D E F
3: E F G A B C D
1: C D E F G A B

If you read from down and up
those chords are
Cmaj7 Dm7 Em7 Fmaj7 G7 Am7 Hm7b5

The most important chord is most commonly Cmaj7 here (if we are not in Am) , the rest of the chords are varius chords that create different kind of tension leading back to Cmaj7

The notes from C to C
is the scale C major

The same notes from G to G
is G Mixolydian

thats the theory

In practice
Learn 3 pos. of the G7 chord
and then learn the Mixolydian scales in the same positions

Google for
Mixolydian scale TAB
and you'll probably find them

oh yeah
If you harmonize G mixolydian , C (4th) is avoid note


Silver Supporting Member
I doesn't fit my particular definition of a "chord scale" because the middle voice gets repeated.

I notice that the top and bottom voices move sequentially up the scale in diatonic sixths.

In his book Chord Khancepts, Steve Khan shows a similar system. He derived it in order to have access to chord tones that lie below a melody note on the first string.

I can't really see a mathematical derivation, per se, of the your chord sequence.

What the hell. It sounds cool. Thanks for sharing. BTW What book is it from?

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