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.
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.
THE DORIAN MODE HAS A COOL JAZZ AND BLUES SOUND.