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> Solo Challenge: Dorian Vs. Aeolian
The Professor
post Jul 22 2013, 06:46 PM
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Soloing With Dorian vs Aeolian Modes



When learning how to solo over minor chords, many of us will explore the Aeolian Mode (Natural Minor Scale) in order to break away from the Minor Pentatonic Scales that many of us know and use when first checking out lead playing in minor keys.

Though the Aeolian Mode is a great place to start when soloing over minor chords, there is another Major Scale Mode that you can explore in combination with the Minor Scale to bring a “brighter” sound to your soloing riffs, that’s the Dorian Mode.



Dorian and Aeolian Construction



Both modes are very similar in their make up, in fact they are only one note difference. This is why they are both used to solo over minor chords, but also why learning how to use each of them in your soloing can provide two flavors to any minor-chord lick you come up with.


The Aeolian Mode is built as such:


R 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 R

Or in C it would be:

C D Eb F G Ab Bb C


As you can see, the Cm chord is found right inside that scale, C-Eb-G, which is why you can use an Aeolian Mode to solo over a minor chord with the same root.


The Dorian is built as such:


R 2 b3 4 5 6 b7 R

Or in C it would be:

C D Eb F G A Bb C


Notice that 6 of the 7 notes in Dorian are the exact same as the notes in Aeolian, the Root, 2nd, b3rd, 4th, 5th, and 7th.

The only note that is different is the sixth note, which is a b6 in Aeolian and a natural 6 in Dorian.

This is the note you want to focus on in your solos in order to really distinguish between lines that use Aeolian and lines that use Dorian.



Further Reading

Dorian Mode for Guitar

Aeolian Mode for Guitar

Minor Triads for Guitar



Soloing With Dorian vs Aeolian



Now that you have some background on how to build and use Dorian and Aeolian modes in your soloing, let’s look at some exercises that you can do in order to mix and match them over a static minor chord.

We will use an Am chord in the following exercises as an example, but feel free to do any/all of these lessons in 12 keys in your own practice routine.


1. Put on an A minor chord vamp and solo using only the A Dorian Mode to build your lines.
2. Put on an A minor vamp and solo using only the A Aeolian Mode to build your lines.
3. Put on an A minor chord vamp and solo using A Dorian for 8 bars, then A Aeolian for 8 bars.
4. Put on an A minor chord vamp and solo using A Dorian for 4 bars, then A Aeolian for 4 bars.
5. Put on an A minor chord vamp and solo using A Dorian for 2 bars, then A Aeolian for 2 bars.
6. Put on an A minor chord vamp and solo using both scales mixed together, switching whenever your ears tell you to use one scale or the other.


By soloing over one chord and moving between both scales when building your licks and riffs, you will not only learn to play each scale, but you’ll learn how each scale sounds similar and different when applied to a soloing situation.



Scale Soloing Challenge




Now that you’ve worked on these two scales a bit, it’s time to share your work!

Record a short solo over a static chord, Am or any key you are comfortable with, using both the Aeolian and Dorian Modes to build your riffs and licks during the solo.

Post the audio or video of this solo below and we can check out what you’ve come up with, give some feedback and just enjoy hearing all of the different ideas that people come up with in their solos.

Here is a sample backing track that you can use to solo over, or feel free to create your own and use that for your solo.


Attached File  Am_Backing_Track.mp3 ( 2.27MB ) Number of downloads: 249




Do you have a question about Dorian vs Aeolian when soloing? If so, feel free to post it in the comments section below and I’ll be happy to help you out any way I can.


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