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The Dorian Mode (beginners and intermediate guide)


Phil W

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OK, you guys seem to asking for mode of the month stuff from BP so why not combine wisdom here.

 

link

 

The Dorian mode is built off the second degree of the diatonic major scale (in C: D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D)

 

The pattern is of Whole Step - Half Step - Whole Step - Whole Step - Whole Step - Half Step - Whole Step

 

You can also conceptualise it as 1, 2 , b3. 4, 5, 6, b7

 

The Dorian mode is symmetric, meaning that the pattern of tones and semitones (T-s-T-T-T-s-T) is the same ascending or descending. This helps give a unique flavour to my favourite mode.

 

Arranging the mode in thirds gives us (e.g. D dorian)

 

D F A C E G B (1 b3 5 b7 9 11 13 )

 

This means we can build chords from the mode such as a minor triad (1 b3 5), minor7 (1 b3 5 b7), minor 9th, 11th and 13th.

 

It's a suitable scale/mode then, obviously, to use over a minor7 chord, especially the iim7 chord (e.g. Dm7 in C). Jazzers though often use it over any minor7 chord. It also sounds good, if not so theoretically correct, over a dominant 7 chord.

 

It is a scale that was frequently used in English folk ballads which made use of its melancholy air. Songs like Scarborough Fair as an example.

 

It's resemblance to the blues scale means that you hear it a fair bit in rock and funk, though less than the minor pentatonic and blues scales. The massive number of tunes based on a repeating chord sequence of a minor 7 chord followed by a dominant 7 chord a fourth above (iim7 - V7 or im7 - IV7 depending on how you want to look at it) has ensured that it is a scale that you can use a lot. Examples - Good Times, Oye Como Va, Groove is in the Heart etc, etc.

 

Remember though to avoid just playing scales but rather draw from to create music - and get the sound of them into your head so you don't have to think about it too much and don't be afraid to use non-scale tones.

 

Examples of tunes based on Dorian mode:

 

Eleanor Rigby

So What

Light My Fire

Most of the Doors' catalogue

Impressions

Milestones

 

 

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Score.

 

Thanks Phil!

 

I used to know the shapes of the modes, but never applied them.

 

I have a big mental block concerning modes, for instance the Dorian mode (in C), to me, is just the C scale but I'm starting and ending on a D. And for that reason, I've never been able to apply them effectively/correctly.

 

Here's to hoping this thread helps!

A stiffy somewhere in the city sewer system...
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Thanks CB. D Dorian is the same notes as a C major scale but it sits on D long enough for D to feel like the tonal centre so it is a different concept. This happens often enough in modal jazz and late sixties/early seventies rock and funk.

 

To really apply the mode, you should learn to conceptualise it as a sound/scale that has the pattern 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, b7, 1 as well as (but without always having to relate it to) the fact that it is a the same as a major scale a tone lower down.

 

Many people made great music without knowing what a Dorian scale/mode was so I wouldn't worry. I know that in my own playing and practising, I am moving away from scalar concepts.

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So then the only real difference, if I can call it that, with Dminor is the 6. More commonly a b6 in a Dminor scale.

 

So we have:

Dorian in C: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7

D minor__ : 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7

 

Is that right?

 

Davo

"We will make you bob your head whether you want to or not". - David Sisk
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I always like the scale modes don't know why but was pretty easy for me to pick that up.

 

Great info Phil, you should be recognised for your valuable contribuitons.

 

It reminds me when we went to Drabucka bar, and the keyboard player was doing is stuff we could clearly notice the modes flying by on his left hand. Wicked.

 

 

 

 

www.myspace.com/davidbassportugal

 

"And then the magical unicorn will come prancing down the rainbow and we'll all join hands for a rousing chorus of Kumbaya." - by davio

 

 

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So then the only real difference, if I can call it that, with Dminor is the 6. More commonly a b6 in a Dminor scale.

 

So we have:

Dorian in C: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7

D minor__ : 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7

 

Is that right?

 

Davo

 

That's right Davo!

You can make use of this, if you're playing a walking line or solo and the piano player or guitarist is playing Dm chords, you can improvise using D dorian, D natural minor, D melodic minor or D harmonic minor to shake things up e.g. over So What. Of course you have to listen to make sure to avoid clashes - you probably wouldn't want to sit on that C# too long.

 

OK guys, what do you want next, another mode of the major scale, a mode of the melodic minor some diminished scale science?

 

How about Lydian?

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What a trove of knowledge. My teacher basicaly said "this is the Dorian scale. Play it like this. Next....I need a little more backround about things than just "here it is". I think its time for a new teacher. Thank you for the info.
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Check out my thread on diagonal fingering for an different way to play it too. Check out both the Dorian mode and the minor 7 (Dorian) arpeggio (with extensions)

 

https://forums.musicplayer.com/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/1795739/page/2#Post1795739

 

Note that you can play the upper extensions (9th, 11th and 13th) by playing a minor triad built on the 9th of the scale.

E.g. F minor 7 is (F, Ab, C, Eb) then the upper extensions are equivalent to a G minor triad (G, B, D).

 

 

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Interesting thing about fingerings for the dorian mode.

 

Like most people I play it mostly with the root using the index finger so the fingering is 1 3 4 shift 2 4 1 2 4 or 1 3 4 1 3 shift 1 2 4

 

This means that I can't play even one octave without shifting.

 

If, however, I play the root with the little finger, I can play more than an octave on 4 string without shifting (if starting on the E string) - fingering

 

4 1 2 4 1 3 4 1

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Interesting thing about fingerings for the dorian mode.

 

Like most people I play it mostly with the root using the index finger so the fingering is 1 3 4 shift 2 4 1 2 4 or 1 3 4 1 3 shift 1 2 4

 

This means that I can't play even one octave without shifting.

 

If, however, I play the root with the little finger, I can play more than an octave on 4 string without shifting (if starting on the E string) - fingering

 

4 1 2 4 1 3 4 1

 

Weird I use 2 4 - 1 2 4 - 1 2 4

 

www.myspace.com/davidbassportugal

 

"And then the magical unicorn will come prancing down the rainbow and we'll all join hands for a rousing chorus of Kumbaya." - by davio

 

 

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David that's not right.

 

You're playing the maj third it should be the minor third.

 

Phil, starting the scale on the pinkie is perfect. Can you do lunch today?

 

Davo

"We will make you bob your head whether you want to or not". - David Sisk
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We are talking about the Dorian scale right?

2nd scale mode.

 

So it goes like this.

 

1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1

 

On the G Major scale would be

 

A B C D E F# G A

 

Am I doing something wrong here????

 

 

www.myspace.com/davidbassportugal

 

"And then the magical unicorn will come prancing down the rainbow and we'll all join hands for a rousing chorus of Kumbaya." - by davio

 

 

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No if the scale is in G major and you start on the second mode.

 

G major doesn't have a Bb

 

www.myspace.com/davidbassportugal

 

"And then the magical unicorn will come prancing down the rainbow and we'll all join hands for a rousing chorus of Kumbaya." - by davio

 

 

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