The Dorian Mode for Guitar

guiar mode dorian

Guitar Modes Explained

Dorian Mode Scale Spelling = W-H-W-W-W-H-W


The dorian mode on guitar (which is a feature of much jazz fusion music) is simply put just the notes of a parent major scale (which itself is re-named the ionian mode) played through one octave from the second note to the second (or 9th if you like?) one octave above the starting note. So, if you play the C major Scale from its second note (D) using the notes D E F G A B C and D (the notes of the C major scale starting from D) you produce the D dorian mode.

The diagram below shows the A dorian mode which is built on the second note of the G Major Scale. The G Major Scale is made up of the notes G A B C D E F# and G (which makes A the second note?)

dorian mode guitar

The dorian mode

The "Scale Spelling" for the dorian mode is as follows W H W W W H W

If you click the link you will be able to print a free copy of a sheet looking at a two octave dorian mode on the guitar The guitar fretboard diagram to the left of the sheet presents a fingering pattern for the mode through two octaves whilst the illustration to the right extends it around the neck of the guitar.



Teacher's Tip: Teaching The Dorian Mode


When you are teaching someone to become familiar with scales and modes part of your job as a guitar teacher can often be to "hold players back" a little. It's no good being able to whizz up and down modes and scales if you are then unable to make music with them. It is important that our students develop a stong idea of the musical components of scales and modes before unleashing (or developing) their technique?

To get a feel for the dorian mode on guitar without attempting to blaze up and down the neck at "warp speed ten" you could ask your students to pick out a familiar melody. I use the old favourite "Scarborough Fair" starting from the first note of the (second octave of the) dorian mode?
When they have managed to pick out (and remember) the melody ask them to work up a version of it using slides, slurs, hammers and bends to maybe give more "feel" to the melody (and to help students realise that fingerings are only options and guidelines rather than "rules")



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