Martin Goulding guides you in that ongoing quest for perfect fretboard navigation.
This issue Martin Goulding explores one of the most popular scales for improvising over minor 7 chords: the ever musical Dorian mode.
Dorian is the second mode of the Major scale, so in the key of G Major that would be A Dorian: A-B-C-D-E-F#-G (R-2-b3-4-5-6-b7). A popular choice when improvising over m7 chords, Dorian mode is characterised by the major 6th degree (F#) which differentiates it from Aeolian and Phrygian, the other minor modes, both of which contain the darker minor 6th (F).
Based around last month’s formula, we’ll arrange the Dorian mode as two ‘master exercises’ in positions 1 and 4, with the chord, scale, arpeggio and intervallic pattern all incorporated into a single exercise for maximum efficiency. We’ll be playing through the scale firstly in 3rds and then in 4ths, with strict alternate picking. Playing through these intervals may be challenging at first, so try breaking each example down four notes at a time and work on memorising each ‘fragment’ before moving on. Pay particular attention to the recommended fingerings as well as the direction of the pick strokes, which form the momentum of the technique. As with all exercise routines, shake out the hands and arms as soon as you feel tension or fatigue.
In the third example, we’ll work on developing our recognition of the strongest intervals in Dorian – the chord tones, or notes
(R-b3-5-b7). of the m7 arpeggio We’ll do this by ‘enclosing’ each consecutive chord tone using an ‘upper neighbour tone’ (scale note higher than the chord tone), followed by a ‘lower neighbour tone’ (one scale degree lower). This provides a visual map of the key intervals from which we can start and resolve our melodies when improvising.
When playing intervallic patterns that require fretting-hand barring and rolling when playing adjacent notes across two strings, adopt a ‘square and dropped’ hand position with the thumb positioned in the middle of the back of the neck, and with plenty of space between the underside of the neck and the ‘cup’ of the hand. This ‘classical’ hand position may feel unusual if you are from a blues-based background and play ‘thumb over the top’ style. But with the hand position square, you’ll be able to stretch out and position your fingers for greater accuracy, with the first finger set to mute off the adjacent lower string with its tip, as well as resting flat over any higher treble strings underneath. With the picking hand muting off any unattended lower strings, the notes should sound clear and even in velocity. NEXT MONTH Martin continues his series that helps to hone your Fretboard Navigation
playing through the examples may prove challenging, so break them down four notes at a time
Carlos Santana’s playing is often tinged with the sound of Dorian