Dorian Guitar Mode

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Learn How To Play The Dorian Guitar Mode

In this guitar lesson we are going to be learning about how the Dorian scale is made, what notes give it its unique sound, and one of the more common Dorian guitar scale shapes. We have supplied you with the scale diagram for the shape that we will be using in this lesson.

Let’s start out with an E major scale and then alter a few of the notes in the scale to make it into a Dorian scale. The E major scale is spelled 1E 2F# 3G# 4A 5B 6C# 7D#. All that you have to do to make a major scale into a Dorian scale is lower the 3rd and 7th scale degree one half step each. G# is the 3rd scale degree in the E major scale and D# is the 7th. Lower the G# to a G and the D# to a D. That would give you an E Dorian scale, spelled 1E 2F# 3G 4A 5B 6C# 7D. Check out the scale diagram to learn the shape we are using in this lesson.

You can also think about the Dorian scale by picking any major scale and starting on the 2nd scale degree. For example, pick a D major scale. The key signature for D major is two sharps. Move to the second scale degree, an E, and start playing the scale there. You would be playing an E Dorian scale. You can also create an E Dorian scale by starting with an E minor scale, spelled 1E 2F# 3G 4A 5B 6C 7D, and raising the 6th scale degree one half step. Again this would give you 1E 2F# #G 4A 5B 6C# 7D. This raised 6th scale degree really sets apart the Dorian sound from the natural minor, or Aeolian, sound. Either way you choose to think about it is fine, they all end in the same result.

Dorian scales are a minor scales so they will be a bit darker sounding than a major scale. The notes that give the Dorian scale its unique sound are the 1st, 3rd 6th, and 7th scale degrees. The 1st degree gives us our tonal center, the 3rd degree give the minor quality to the E minor chord that we will be playing over, the raised 6th scale degree gives us our unique Dorian sound, and the 7th emphasizes the other note that has been altered from the E major scale.

Record an E minor chord or get a friend to play it for you. Practice this E Dorian scale shape over the E minor chord. Listen to what each scale degree sounds like over the chord. If you don’t have a recorder or an available friend, just hit your low E string and let it ring out while improvising with the E Dorian scale. If you like the Dorian sound, try learning some other Dorian scale shapes and experiment with them all over the fretboard. Check out the classic jazz song “So What” to get a better idea of what improvising in the Dorian mode sounds like. You can also download the Free Jam Track By Clicking Here. This one is in A Dorian and it has a kind of Latin feel to it.

Dorian Guitar Mode

This Lesson Has 12 Comments

  • Waltere20 says:

    Nate, thanks for the free lessons. I’m learning more and more.

    Question: can Dorian or Lydian or other modes be used on any key and call it Dorian or Lydian as well? In other words, if Dorian starts on key of E, as your video shows, can Dorian be use on D or A and still call it Dorian?

    By the way, are you related to Michael Savage?

    Thanks a million.

  • Deaner says:

    The E Dorian Scale shown should have the fingering placed down a semitone on the E string so the first finger is on the seventh fret, the third finger on the ninth fret and the forth finger on the tenth fret.

    Great lessons by the way. An excellent resource for budding guitarists.

  • richard vandyne says:

    i was working on a b dorian when i ran across this lesson so i just took the b major scale and made the changes. it worked out perfectly .thanks for a good and future lesson on making these kinds of scales.

  • vasco says:

    What is the Number of Fret on that mode and sorry Im not understanding about 1-3-1-2-2-4-1

  • Hemanth says:

    thx . seems 2 suite me

  • Joel says:

    Nice manicure Nate.

  • Ricgibson says:

    Is it coincidence that the Dorian, Major & Minor scales fall onto the 5th, 4th & 3rd Major block patterns, respectively? Is this a pattern to apply to all scales? If so, can you spell it out for us with thicker craniums, please?

  • Mariah CaliSWAGG says:

    Thank You so much for this track,and mode diagram, I went in on this one. May we please have more jam tracks?

  • James# says:

    If “The E major scale is spelled 1E 2F# 3G# 4A 5B 6C# 7D#. All that you have to do to make a major scale into a Dorian scale is lower the 3rd and 7th scale degree one half step each”
    “You can also think about the Dorian scale by picking any major scale and starting on the 2nd scale degree”
    How is 1E 2F# 3G 4A 5B 6C# 7D the same as

    2F# 3G# 4A 5B 6C# 7D# 7E 7F#?

    • Mike says:

      It’s not. The scale that you just spelled out is the F# Dorian scale, because F# is the 2nd scale degree of the E major scale. The E Dorian scale is derived from starting at the 2nd scale degree of the D major scale, because E is the 2nd scale degree and the Dorian scale or “mode”, is the 2nd mode.

  • Ali says:

    Nate, I had learn all of the modes. Can you tell me all of the modes properties, what it is most use for and the perfect time to use it?

    Thanks a lot.

 
 

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