DORIAN MODE The mi­nor mir­a­cle

If your play­ing is stuck in a Pen­ta­tonic rut then this all-new fea­ture should pro­vide a re­fresh­ing change. Jon Bishop looks at the won­der­fully melodic world of Dorian mode.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Give your mi­nor play­ing the lift it de­serves with a scale that’s easy and ac­ces­si­ble but adds style and so­phis­ti­ca­tion to your rhythm and so­los.

Wel­come to this ex­haus­tive fea­ture on one of the most melodic but also one of the most ac­ces­si­ble modes: the Dorian. The aim of the les­son is to ap­ply Dorian to var­i­ous stylis­tic set­tings. Both rhythm and lead gui­tar ideas are no­tated and, once you’ve gone through these, your Dorian mode trick-bag should be fully topped up. The Dorian is one of the mi­nor modes of the Ma­jor scale and is ex­pressed like this: R-2-b3-4-5-6-b7. You’ll no­tice that five of its seven notes com­prise a Mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic scale, with the other two be­ing the 2nd (9th) and ma­jor 6th (un­like the Nat­u­ral Mi­nor b6). which con­tains a A quick glance will tell you it should work great over mi­nor 7 chords, so all things mi­nor 7 are cov­ered within our ex­am­ples. You’ll also find sev­eral stylis­ti­cally con­trast­ing pieces for you to learn, and over which to ex­plore the Dorian. But let’s re­view what the Dorian mode is and how it func­tions, and for this we need to look at its ‘par­ent’ scale the Ma­jor (or Io­nian mode). If we har­monise the C Ma­jor scale in stacked 3rds we get the fol­low­ing chords: Cmaj7 (I)-Dm7 (I Im)-Em7 (I I Im)-Fmaj7 (Vim)-Bm7b5 Imb5). (IV)-G7 (V)-Am7 (VI As you can see, the se­cond chord is Dm7 and the scale (mode) that fits with this is D Dorian mode (a C Ma­jor scale start­ing on D). If this all sounds com­pli­cated, all you need to re­mem­ber is that Dorian mode is the Nat­u­ral Mi­nor scale with a ma­jor 6th de­gree. But you could also view it as a ‘mi­norised’ Mixoly­dian mode, since the sin­gle dif­fer­ence be­tween them is ma­jor 3rd for Mixoly­dian and mi­nor 3rd for Dorian. Check them out... R-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7. Nat­u­ral Mi­nor: R-2-3-4-5-6-b7 Mixoly­dian: R-2-b3-4-5-6-b7 Dorian: To keep things straight­for­ward all our ex­am­ples are in the gui­tar friendly key of Dm. The Dorian mode has a great melodic sound, is use­ful for all types of mu­sic styles but you may no­tice its flavour per­vad­ing jazz, blues and the in­stantly recog­nis­able sound of Car­los San­tana. The key fea­ture is that when Dorian mode is played over a mi­nor 7 chord, all the notes sound good. This means that, when im­pro­vis­ing, any of the notes can be ac­cented or played at length with­out any risk of them sound­ing ‘bad’ or ob­vi­ously ‘in­fe­rior’. An­other pop­u­lar strat­egy if you don’t want to ‘think’ modally, is to use the Mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic scale as home base (re­mem­ber the Dorian con­tains one), and add the 9th/2nd and 6th ‘flavour’ tones when re­quired. Check out our fretboard di­a­gram and you will see where these two tar­get tones line up against shape 1 Mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic. If you are new to Dorian, this ap­proach of adding the 9th and 6th to the Mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic will al­low you to come up with your own ideas with rel­a­tive ease (see be­low). And, although not tabbed here, also adding the and ma­jor 3rd can pro­vide an al­len­com­pass­ing ‘uber’ blues scale that pro­vides al­most end­less solo­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties. Many thanks to Uni­ver­sal Au­dio for the loan of the Apollo in­ter­face for the record­ing. Have fun and see you next time.


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