What is a Mode?
Before we get into this you need to understand your basics about scales. Please if you haven’t already go and read “The Major Scale” before starting this blog.
A mode is a rotation of a scale. So if we take the Major scale ” R, T, T, ST, T, T, T, ST” and treat the second note as our root note we get the following run of intervals.
R, T. ST, T, T, T, ST, T
This is the Second mode of the Major Scale, as the Major scale itself is the first mode and known as the Ionian Mode.We can rotate this through all 7 arrangements as when we rotate it the 8th time we get back to position 1.
The Dorian Mode (2nd Mode of the Major Scale)
The Dorian Mode is a great mix between a minor and major sounding scale that can be used in Rock and Jazz music as well as others.
The Intervals of the mode are as follows:
This might not make much sense to you by itself, yet it will work when we apply a root note and then use these intervals (tones and semitones to find the other notes.
12 Notes of Music
A - A# - B - C - C# - D - D# - E - F - F# - G - G#
The Dorian Mode - Applied to Notes
So If we take the root note of “A” then go up by the right amount each time we get the following notes.
A – (+ Tone) B – (+Semitone) C – (+Tone) D – (+Tone) E – (+Tone) F# – (+Semitone) G – (+Tone) A.
So A Dorian =
A – B – C – D – E – F# – G – A
If we now apply this to some other root notes we can work out other Major scales:
B – C# – D – E – F# – G# – A – B
C – D – D# – F – G – A – A# – C
D – E – F – G – A – B – C – D
As you can see the notes change from scale to scale when we have different root notes, however the Intervals (spacings) stay the same.
Applying The Scale To The Guitar
The great news is because each fret on the guitar is a semitone and each scale keeps to the same intervals all we need to do is learn the scale shape and then move it to find the right root note and the shape will give you the right intervals every time.
The First shape of the Dorian Mode is as follows.
From the example shown we are playing the F# Dorian mode.. We know this because the first note we play is an F# and we run through the shape/pattern of notes from there.
If we wanted to play the G Dorian Mode, we would simply take this same shape of notes and move it so that the first note we play is on the 3rd fret (a G note).
Now you want to go and practice running up and down these notes. Start by going in order then play around with different patterns and get used to the overall shape and not just running in order. This will help you get a feel for the scale to use in more creative ways like making songs or solos.
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