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The Sounds Of The Dorian Mode, Learn the Chords, Scale, Triads and Arpeggios Built From Dorian
The Professor
Feb 28 2013, 12:21 PM
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As many of us are beginning, or have begun, our exploration of major-scale modes on the guitar, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that each mode of the major scale also produces a triad, arpeggio and two common chord shapes, on top of the fingering for the mode itself.

By learning how to build chords, triads and arpeggios from any mode you learn on the guitar, you are fully preparing yourself to improvise or write a melody line over those chords, as well as understand how the harmonic and melodic sides of the modes come together from a theoretical and musical standpoint.

In this lesson, we’ll be covering the Dorian Mode, how it is built and the chords, triads and arpeggios that go along with this commonly used minor mode.

As a refresher, you can also check out the first article on this series here:

The Sounds of the Ionian Mode


And, here are the chords, mode, triad and arpeggio from the Dorian Mode to use as a reference as you work through each of these devices in more detail throughout the rest of this lesson.


Attached Image



Dorian Chords



Apart from the mode itself, there are two commonly used Dorian chords, one with three notes and one with four.

The three-note chord is a minor triad, built from the first, third and fifth notes of the scale, while the four-note chord is a m7 built from the first, third, fifth and seventh notes of the scale.

So, as was written in the example above, if you are building these chords from the root-note D, you would get:


Dm - D F A or 1 b3 5 (the third is flat as compared to the major triad, just like the 3rd of the Dorian mode is flat compared to the major 3rd of the Ionian mode).

Dm7 - D F A C or 1 b3 5 b7 (again, the 7th is flat as compared to the maj7 chord from Ionian, as the 7th of the Dorian mode is flat compared to the 7th of the Ionian mode).

Not only are these two chords built from the Dorian mode, but they are the most commonly used chord to solo over with this mode.

This means that if you have a minor triad or m7 chord, you could use a Dorian mode to write a melody line or solo over those chords.

When doing so, you will notice that this scale is “brighter” compared to the Natural Minor Scale that you may have already explored in your playing. This is because the Dorian Mode has a natural 6, compared to the b6 of the Aeolian Mode.

Because of this, the natural 6 is considered the “characteristic note” of the Dorian mode, as it makes it stand out against the other minor modes found within the major-scale system.


Further Reading

How to Build Minor Triads


Exercise

Write out the note for each minor triad and m7 chord in all 12 keys.

Post your answers below and I will correct them and give you feedback if you are having any trouble writing out the notes of these triads and chords.



Dorian Scale



The Dorian Mode itself contains 7 notes and is built from the second note of the Ionian Mode/Major Scale.

What I mean by this, is that if you took a C major scale and play it from the second note, you get the Dorian Mode.

So, the C Major Scale is spelled:

C D E F G A B C

And the D Dorian Mode is spelled:

D E F G A B C D

As you can see, the D Dorian Mode has the same notes as C Ionian, it just starts on the second note rather than the root.

You can also build a Dorian Mode from an interval standpoint. When doing this, the Dorian mode consists of the following intervals:

1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7 1

The two flat notes, b3 and b7, and in relation to the Ionian mode, which we use as the base scale for any of the other modes when building them in this manner.

So, if you take a C major scale, as such:

C D E F G A B C

And lower the 3rd and 7th note, you produce a C Dorian Mode.

C D Eb F G A Bb C

As there are two ways of working out the Dorian Mode, a major scale starting on the second note, or using the interval construction above, you can think or either or both when working out this mode for yourself.

There is no right or wrong approach, as long as they allow you to spell out any Dorian mode, either approach is the right one for you.


Further Reading

Dorian Phrases for Beginners


Exercise

Write out the notes of the Dorian mode in all 12 keys.

Post your answers below and I will check them out and post feedback, as well as answer any questions you may have on this scale construction.



Dorian Triad and Arpeggio



As well as having a three-note chord and four-note chord built from the Dorian Mode, you have corresponding triads and arpeggios for each of these harmonic devices.

To make things easy, you can just think of the triad as being the 3-note chord but “picked” in note order and note strummed.

As well, you can think of the arpeggio as the four-note chord “picked” in note order and note strummed.

This means that the Dorian triad is a minor triad spelled R b3 5, D F A in the key of D Dorian as in the above example.

This also means that the Dorian arpeggio is a m7 arpeggio spelled R b3 5 b7, D F A C in the key of D Dorian as in the above tab/notation.

While the triad and arpeggio have the same structure and notes as the three and four-note chords, they act differently because they are played as single-lines rather than as chords.

This means that the triad and arpeggio are the melodic sound of these chords, and the actual chord shapes are the harmonic sounds of these chords.


Further Reading


How to Play Minor Triads on Guitar


Exercise

Write out the triad and arpeggio notes for the Dorian mode, a minor triad and m7 arpeggio, in all 12 keys.

Post your answers below and I will check your work and help with any issues or questions you may have on this subject.



Learning the structures behind each mode that you are learning on the guitar can help shore up your theory knowledge, as well as make it easier for you to apply these modes to your solos and song writing as you learn to relate them to chords, triads and arpeggios.

If you have any questions or comments, post them below.

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This post has been edited by The Professor: Feb 28 2013, 12:30 PM


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tflava
May 9 2014, 02:04 PM
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Here is the dorian mode of 6 keys first:

A-B-C-D-E-F#-G-A
A#-C-C#-D#-F-G-G#-A#
B-C#-D-E-F#-G#-A-B
C-D-Eb-F-G-A-Bb-C
C#-D#-E-F#-G#-A#-B-C#
D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D

This are the first 6.

I also have a question if you want to use this. Can you use it on al minor chords such as: Dm, Em, Am etc.. And do you have to start the lick on the root note then?

Thanks in advance! grtzz

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Cosmin Lupu
May 9 2014, 03:26 PM
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QUOTE (tflava @ May 9 2014, 01:04 PM) *
Here is the dorian mode of 6 keys first:

A-B-C-D-E-F#-G-A
A#-C-C#-D#-F-G-G#-A#
B-C#-D-E-F#-G#-A-B
C-D-Eb-F-G-A-Bb-C
C#-D#-E-F#-G#-A#-B-C#
D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D

This are the first 6.

I also have a question if you want to use this. Can you use it on al minor chords such as: Dm, Em, Am etc.. And do you have to start the lick on the root note then?

Thanks in advance! grtzz


Hey mate smile.gif You can use the Dorian mode on any natural minor chord - but you are not compelled to start the lick on any particular note of the mode, as long as you emphasize on the characteristic scale degree of that mode smile.gif In this case, the major 6th

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Marius Pop
May 9 2014, 04:55 PM
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I suggest you try this: use it in the context of a non diatonic chord progression, such as: Am Cm - use the dorian mode equivalent for each of these two chords so that you get a good feel of its distinct character biggrin.gif

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Cosmin Lupu
May 9 2014, 06:03 PM
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Precisely! Follow Marius' advice and get your ears acquainted with the Dorian sound first and then get to the more complex phrases and such smile.gif

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tflava
May 9 2014, 07:29 PM
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Allright man i will do it, but i have another question.

If a music piece is in the key of c. Can i play along with the scale of c dorian or do i have to change the key with every chord?

I mean that if its an a minor do i have to play the a dorian scale over it and with the c minor the c dorian scale?

Thanks again everyone.

grtzz Tim

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klasaine
May 10 2014, 11:49 AM
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QUOTE (tflava @ May 9 2014, 11:29 AM) *
] do i have to change the key with every chord?

I mean that if its an a minor do i have to play the a dorian scale over it and with the c minor the c dorian scale?

Thanks again everyone.


In this case yes.

A dorian over the A minor chord.
C dorian over the C minor chord.

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Cosmin Lupu
May 10 2014, 03:11 PM
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Ken is right smile.gif If you would have a different progression, such as Am Dmaj for instance, you could've used just the A dorian mode, as this mode is derived from the G major scale, out of which both chords can be derived.

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tflava
May 10 2014, 05:33 PM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ May 10 2014, 02:11 PM) *
Ken is right smile.gif If you would have a different progression, such as Am Dmaj for instance, you could've used just the A dorian mode, as this mode is derived from the G major scale, out of which both chords can be derived.





But how do i know in the key of G which one are the minors and which one are the majors?

I know how to write out the notes but i don,t know which one of the minor and major scales are minor chords or major chords.

How do you know this?

Grtzz

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Marius Pop
May 10 2014, 08:47 PM
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You have to harmonize the major scale and remember this rule - on each note of a scale (major in this case) you can build up a chord
I Major - II minor - III minor - IV major - V major (Major dominant 7 to be precise ) - VI minor - VII minor (7b5).
This is a basic harmonization of the major scale.

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tflava
May 11 2014, 12:28 PM
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yes that was what i ment.

Thanks!

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Bogdan Radovic
May 11 2014, 12:37 PM
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QUOTE (tflava @ May 10 2014, 06:33 PM) *
But how do i know in the key of G which one are the minors and which one are the majors?

I know how to write out the notes but i don,t know which one of the minor and major scales are minor chords or major chords.

How do you know this?

Grtzz


Check out this lesson covering harmonization of the major scale: https://www.guitarmasterclass.net/guitar_fo...showtopic=49595

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Cosmin Lupu
May 11 2014, 12:41 PM
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Hey Tim - I think we tackled those lessons on triads if I am not wrong - check them out, as they will also help out - thy treat the EXACT aspects mentioned by Marius smile.gif

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tflava
May 11 2014, 04:02 PM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ May 11 2014, 11:41 AM) *
Hey Tim - I think we tackled those lessons on triads if I am not wrong - check them out, as they will also help out - thy treat the EXACT aspects mentioned by Marius smile.gif



Yeah man you're right.

I will focus on that one too.

smile.gif

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Marius Pop
May 11 2014, 06:17 PM
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You're welcome, mate. Be sure to check out the links in this thread, they help you out getting this under your fingers smile.gif

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tflava
May 16 2014, 11:25 AM
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QUOTE (Marius Pop @ May 11 2014, 05:17 PM) *
You're welcome, mate. Be sure to check out the links in this thread, they help you out getting this under your fingers smile.gif




I have another question.


If the chord progression is: Am-Dm-G-C Can i play on al chords with the A dorian?, i think not.

Or can i only play the A dorian over the Am chord, the D dorian over the Dm chord and over the G and C chord i have to play the pentatonic scale or the aeolian mode?

Because normally i can play over al these chords the minor pentatonic scale and the aeolian scale, bur i think i cant play the dorian scale over all the chords because the're not all minor chords.

Grtzz Tim

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klasaine
May 16 2014, 05:05 PM
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QUOTE (tflava @ May 16 2014, 03:25 AM) *
I have another question.


If the chord progression is: Am-Dm-G-C


A aeolian - A B C D E F G (and or A minor penta).

You're really in the 'key' of C major here as in ALL these chords are diatonic to the key of C.
Am = vi
Dm = ii
G = V
C = I

In this case it's the Dm chord that's the dead giveaway - it's got an F natural in it (the minor 3rd).

*Now, if you changed that Dm to a D major or D7 you could actually play A dorian.

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tflava
May 16 2014, 06:37 PM
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QUOTE (klasaine @ May 16 2014, 04:05 PM) *
A aeolian - A B C D E F G (and or A minor penta).

You're really in the 'key' of C major here as in ALL these chords are diatonic to the key of C.
Am = vi
Dm = ii
G = V
C = I

In this case it's the Dm chord that's the dead giveaway - it's got an F natural in it (the minor 3rd).

*Now, if you changed that Dm to a D major or D7 you could actually play A dorian.




But this is actually the thing ni don,t understand. in the lesson above i can see that you have to mmove on with the chords. So that you cant play the A dorian scale over an D7 chord and that you have to play D dorian then.

I thought it was like jazz. So with the A chord you play A dorian, with the C the C dorian etc...

But now i dont understand it anymore. |because with Rock if some music stands in the key of C you can play the C major scale pover all chords.


Grtzz Tim

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Marius Pop
May 17 2014, 05:01 AM
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QUOTE (tflava @ May 16 2014, 08:37 PM) *
But this is actually the thing ni don,t understand. in the lesson above i can see that you have to mmove on with the chords. So that you cant play the A dorian scale over an D7 chord and that you have to play D dorian then.

I thought it was like jazz. So with the A chord you play A dorian, with the C the C dorian etc...

But now i dont understand it anymore. |because with Rock if some music stands in the key of C you can play the C major scale pover all chords.


Grtzz Tim

Basically over D7 chord you can play D mixolydian mode.
Try to build this with the scale generator and you will
see that this mode has the same notes with A dorian mode.

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klasaine
May 17 2014, 08:22 AM
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QUOTE (tflava @ May 16 2014, 10:37 AM) *
But this is actually the thing ni don,t understand. in the lesson above i can see that you have to move on with the chords. So that you cant play the A dorian scale over an D7 chord and that you have to play D dorian then.

I thought it was like jazz. So with the A chord you play A dorian, with the C the C dorian etc...

But now i dont understand it anymore. |because with Rock if some music stands in the key of C you can play the C major scale pover all chords.


Grtzz Tim


1) you don't always have to move with each chord - even in jazz.
2) you need a much better understanding of regular, everyday diatonic harmony before you start worrying about modes.

Your progression is super simple.
Lets spell each chord indivdually:

Am - A C E
Dm - D F A
G - G B D
C - C E G

Can you see how the combined notes of all four chords make a C major scale? C D E F G A B (plus some common notes).
Since your chord progression 'starts' on an A minor chord we can re-arrange the notes (of the C major scale) to start with A:
A B C D E F G. We can call that A aeolian, the 6th mode of C major (sometimes it is referred to as A 'natural' minor).
*The A minor pentatonic scale outlines the A aeolian mode: A C D E G.

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This post has been edited by klasaine: May 17 2014, 08:54 AM
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