Add A Little Raga To Your Guitar

 What do you get when you alter the Myxolydian mode a bit?

You get…

A style of Brit-Rock infused with healthy doses of Indian classical music and heavily drugged up cultural naivete’. It pops up from time to time in singles, so today let us check out a few ways to incorporate it into your pentatonic playing.

With a little access to the mixolydian mode, we can begin to sound like we are straight out of the Maharishi’s ashram, free loving ourselves into a groovy stupor. I say a little access because I’m not going to turn this into a modal lesson because that’s a great opportunity later.


Now let’s pluck out the ii and the vi ( the 2nd and 6th note of the mixolydian mode ) and we have a neat mixolydian pentatonic gateway to the Ganges.


raga tab

Don’t mess around with modes much? See it as this: The Pentatonic minor could be spelled out as: I-biii-IV-V-bvii, just step up the biii a half step ( one fret) We get a pentatonic scale altered to a very psychedelic vibe and ripe for playing “Tomorrow Never Knows” by The Beatles, Kula Shaker songs, or a homemade sitar. Let’s look at some components.

Before we go on to riffing out this scale, let’s look at a new technique that’s actually an old technique; the meend. The meend is a legato slide, but with a few extra features that the western legato doesn’t have; we will cover two of them. The first one a simple half step hop and slide forward:

raga 2

Well, lets now learn a triplet meend to glide across the scale.

However, we need to prep the guitar neck to support the watery legato with some kind of oil (mineral, coconut, the lemony stuff from your local music store, etc…).

Very overlooked detail for guitarists

Just apply the lubricant liberally to the fretboard and rub the it into the frets and your fingertips.  Triplet legato slides are very very difficult without a little grease.

Let’s take the meend out for a spin:


Sounds cool, right? So now let’s take this guy out for a spin with 2 more examples:

Editor note: the triplets are meend legatos.


This vibe is found all throughout the mid to late 90s raga rock/ brit pop revival efforts of Oasis, Chemical Brothers, Kula Shaker,The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Butthole Surfers, Beck, and The Tea Party.

Understand that I make a huge distinction between this “Raga Rock” variation of guitar playing and Indian classical music, which is much much more complicated and subtle than what I am presenting in this humble article. This is designed to give you new tools from another part of the world in your everyday average pentatonic minor or blues scale.


There will be a part 2 to this that will cover transitions between the this kind of sound and more conventional ones coming soon.