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This lesson shows you how to create a solo with a Dorian feel while using the pentatonic scale

First what is the Dorian Mode?

A Dorian Mode or scale is quite simple to play. If you think of any major scale (in this instance, we will look at G) G A B C D E F# G.

G Major Scale

The Dorian scale is created by starting on the second note of the scale in this case A so the scale now reads A B C D E F# G. So big deal I hear you say. Well actually it is. What we must understand is that the interval are now different from a Major scale. A Major scale is built from R W W H W W W H R intervals. What we now have with the Dorian Scale is R W H W W W H W. 

A Dorian Scale


If we number, the intervals in a Major scale 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 the Dorian scale is 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7 8. 

So what does that mean? 

We if we harmonize the scale the I chord is now a minor chord instead of a Major Chord. The 4th is now a Dominant if we extend the chord to 4 notes, and V chord is now a minor. 

So how do we use this Mode?

A way when can use this mode is to use the scale (Dorian) whenever we play over a minor chord. So we have a different sound. In most cases if we were playing over a Am chord we could use either a natural minor scale A B C D E F G A or Am pentatonic scale A C D E G A. Now we can play an A Dorian A B C D E F# G A to the list of scales. The raised 6th note will create a different tone when played over the Am chord.

Another approach is to use chords created from the Dorian Scale. A common chord progression would be playing from Am7 to Dm7. So if we now change the 4 chord (Dm7) to a D7 we are adding the raised 6 note to the chordal sound so we get a harmony that creates a Dorian quality.


Ok enough of the complicated stuff. How can we simply use pentatonic scales to create this mode?

So we now know that A Dorian contains the notes A B C D E F# G  Am Pentatonic scale contains the notes A C D E G

Am Pentatonic Scale


so the notes missing are B & F#.

Now if we play Bm Pentatonic Scale B D E F# A.

Bm Pentatonic Scale

So if we combine the two scales we have  all the notes for A Dorian.

Combined Scales

So by simply using our standard pentatonic scale shapes that we all know and love and have lots of cool licks already learned we can use them to play Dorian modal sounding licks.


How cool is that?? 

Please watch the video to see ideas and examples of combining the two Pentatonic Scales together to create a Dorian Sound.

I have also created a backing track for the  A Dorian Scale played over a backing track using Am7 - D9.