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Dorian Scale Question

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Ben, Dec 10, 2004.

  1. Ben

    Ben Guest

    I am Studying this book. Guitar Soloing, The contemporary Guide to Improvisation by Gilbert Marlis. The book introduces the Dorian scale intervals and indicates it as the second mode of the major scale. I am good with that.

    The book also says it will approach the Dorian scale as it's own entity which has it's own set of chords and sounds. This is supposed to let the player become familiar with the sounds and tendencies of the scale/mode. The book says the Dorian scale is a minor tonality and may be used from the root of a minor chord. It also said it (Dorian) should be used when the IV cord in the minor tonality is a major triad or dominate chord.

    The book then shows a vamp of Cm7 and F7 on a staff with the key signature of Bb. and says I chould use the Dorian scale located at the key center (C in this case) to solo over this vamp. The book indicates the Cm7 as the i chord and the F7 as the IV chord.

    Here is my problem, Isn't this getting a bit complicated and contorted. What is the value of looking at this as C Dorian instead of Bb major scale with a ii V progression and a tonal center of C. I know I am missing something, what is it?

    And while I am on the subject, why have a natural minor scale when there is a relative major that works just fine. It looks as if the Natural Minor is discussed only to set the stage for discussing the harmonic and melodic minor scales.
     
  2. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    You're not missing a thing. Both methods are valid.

    In this case the i chord is a C minor so he's probably just pointing out that you can use a dorian (minor type of mode) over a minor chord. Try playing Moondance, Oye Como Va, Whipping Post or In Memory of Elizabeth Reed in A min and the A dorian works over all of them.

    Also the C dorian is akin to the F mixolydian which works over the F9 chord. In other words (assuming your playing in 8th position), start on the F on the A string and play the same notes as the C dorian and you're playing F mixolydian.

    As for the minor scale and or any other mode. The character of a scale is defined by the intervals between each scale degree. In the case of diatonic scales, it's where the half-steps and whole steps fall.

    C major the 1/2 steps fall between 3-4 and 7-8 scale degrees which gives you that "Doe a deer" happy sound.

    On a natural minor the 1/2 steps fall between the 2-3 and 5-6 scale degrees which give it that "sad, melancholy" sound.

    Some greek (Pythagoris?) wrote a treatise on the proper mode to play at a function. For example, they may have only played ionian at weddings and aeolian at funerals.
     
  3. Tom Gross

    Tom Gross Supporting Member

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    I believe one should be able to see the modes both ways.

    I believe what the approach is driving at is looking at a Cmin7-F7 vamp as in a Dorian key - with resolution to the Cm not the Bb Major sound.

    It;s about the sound. Of course technically if you harmonize the dorian mode, you'll get the same chords & arpeggios as from the root major, but it's about sound and feel. Are "Little Wing" and "Evil Ways" both in G? No - Little Wing is in Em, and Evil Ways is in A Dorian.

    Listen.
     
  4. Mark C

    Mark C Member

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    The relative minor is a natural minor scale. Relative means that the scale has a related Major scale. Example - C major and Aminor. C major contains the notes CDEFGAB. A natural minor contains the notes ABCDEFG. Same notes, different starting point which gives different intervals. This means you can use either position as a basis for soloing over either C major or A minor, as long as you know which notes are strong tensions to land on. All twelve major scales have a relative natural minor scale. Hope this helps.
     
  5. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Just for further clarity, Tom is pointing out that both songs have the same key signature, ie F# but use a different tonic. Thereby changing the 1/2 step whole step relationship per scale degree which changes the character of the scale.
     
  6. Ben

    Ben Guest

    Suppose I am listening to a song like Evil Ways. I can easily find the chords. How then do I know/Recognize it is A Dorian?
     
  7. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    First and foremost, as Tom said: "Listen".

    Also the secret mystic Santana chord progression is Am to D.
    A-C-E
    D-F#-A

    A minor scale = no sharps or flats
    D major scale = F# & C#

    The C# won't sound right over the A minor chord but the F# sounds cool.

    Moondance and In Memory of Elizabeth Reed are basically Am Bm Cmajor7. Whippin Post is Am-Bm-C.

    Am = a-c-e
    Bm = b-d-f#
    Cmaj7 = c-e-g-b

    Note the F#.

    "A" dorian is related to a "C" lydian mode which works over the CMaj7 chord, which is perfectly acceptable in be-bop.

    Seeing a pattern?

    Learn Miles Davis "So What".

    In jazz, dorian mode works over just about any minor 7th chord but as Tom said, "Listen".
     
  8. Ben

    Ben Guest

    Thanks
    Here is what I get.
    First and for most listen. I'll have to work on listening.

    Second for the AmBmC progression
    I look at the notes in the chords.
    I get abcdef#g with the root at "A", this is A-Dorian

    For the AmD progression. This is the same i iv vamp example I started with. Also the chords give a_cdef#_ the missing notes are b and g, again A-Dorian.

    Options for these progressions are limited to minor scales. The A-Aeolian 1-M2-m3-p4-p5-m6-b7 or A Phrygian 1-m2-m3-p4-p5-m6-b7 don't work because of the major 6th note F#, in the Bm and D chords.

    Did I get it right? or miss anything?
     
  9. Mark C

    Mark C Member

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    Ah grasshopper, you are learning!:D You're on the right track, just remember that this is the basis. Try other notes outside the scale as well, mainly as passing tones or leading tones to the notes you are trying to land on (passing tone is when you play two notes a whole step apart and throw in the note in the middle. Leading tone is when you approach a strong note with in the chord from a half step below) Remember that your ear is still the most important thing - if you think it sounds good, it is good no matter what the books say.
     
  10. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    Look closely - I'll betcha anything that's actually "Dan Gilbert and Beth Marlis"

    You've had lotsa good answers here, but just to recap vis a vis my own feelings on this - you're gonna phrase your lines differently if you're viewing it as a C dorian than you are if you're just thinking Bb major starting on C. Plus, once you learn to see the dorian as a minor scale with a raised sixth, then you start to hear those sounds as being distinctly 'dorian' as well. It's worth the extra effort.
     
  11. littlemoon

    littlemoon Member

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    Good call. It's gotta be. Two of GIT's finest.

    littlemoon
     
  12. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    I think some of the stuff out there is over complicated but sometimes useful. I think the idea of learning modes is important but overrated, it is useful to help break out of pattern playing though. IMHO, what all musicians generally do is fall into patterns, due to habit, muscle memory etc. By learning different modes your fingers will end up on notes you normally have not accented thus creating different sounds. How many musicians have you heard at the guitar stores play the exact same riffs. It's the layout of the instrument and the relationship the individual has with it. Your starting with Dorian now, but once you feel comfortable with this move on to all the modes over the same Cm7 F7 progression. Play Gm, A locrian etc. do it all. I remember reading what John Mclaughlin said about modes, he said, "The most important thing to learn is what notes make the mode sound the way it does" i.e. each mode has a flavor and what notes in the scale give the mode it's unique personality. This is the hard part. Don't forget chromatic notes.

    Try this out, play your Cm7 F7 progression and play any note on the guitar over this progression. The key is to play everything exactly in time, maybe start off with simple 1/8th notes. You should find almost everything will sound good within reason. Sure some notes will sound better then others but none of them should sound awful, it's all about the time. A lot of the great musicians (Charlie Parker, for example) could play anything over a chord and it would sound great, but they studied, listened and played, played, played until it became second nature, this is when the music happened. Good luck, it's a lot of fun and once you get a couple of "Now I see" experiences you will be begging for more.
     
  13. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Ben, you haven't gotten anything wrong.

    These are all good answers.

    You can play the aeolian and phrygian over those progressions but as others have said, it needs to be in context.

    If you were my student I would have you concentrate on the dorian mode for a bit before trying some of the other ideas.

    Try this modal idea using D dorian:

    ||: dm / / / | dm / / / | Cmaj / / / | Cmaj / / / | dm / / / | dm / / / | Cmaj / / / | dm / / / :||

    Recognize it? It's an old sea shanty.
     
  14. Ben

    Ben Guest

    Littlemoon, It is Dan Gilbert and Beth Marlis. I made a typo and left out the "and" between the names. I really like the Book, but it could use a few more words of explanation here and there. I have been using the info on the web to fill in the blanks. Sometimes I see what looks like a casual comment in this book. I later find that subject described on the internet in several pages of text and examples. It turns out I almost miss the point they were trying to make, because it was a simple statement without explanation. The book also has some examples that need more explanation.

    If anyone has the book please see page 147, "Key Center Playing in Minor Tonality Chord Progressions that Use Triad Harmony" It says I should play the example in fig.4. Watch the quality of the IV and V chords and note where (over what chords) the Dorian, Natural Minor and Harmonic Minor are played. I look at the music and I see no V chord. I would love to have the answer and explanation behind this example.

    I would post the music here for all to see but that's a lot of work. For the people without a book. First Progression is Cm Fm Ab Bb with Key signature E. The second progression is Am D G Am G with Key signature C. What would you play over these progressions?
     
  15. littlemoon

    littlemoon Member

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    I know exactly what you mean about the "casual comments." Don Mock does this a lot in his books, and it drives me crazy. He drops these little pearls of wisdom - these keys to open a locked door to a parallel universe - along the way, and it's so easy to overlook some of them and miss the big picture. So now I read every sentence as if it might have something profound to say.

    littlemoon
     
  16. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    From what I can glean out of your post:

    Cm Fm Ab Bb would be key of Eb. The V chord would be Bb.

    Am D G Am G in C, the V chord would be G.
     
  17. Ed DeGenaro

    Ed DeGenaro Supporting Member

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    I might be missing something here...but the second example would be G with the V chord being D.
     
  18. Ed DeGenaro

    Ed DeGenaro Supporting Member

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    The IV and V are the ones that easily define the key center.
    Say you have C and D, chances are that you're dealing with G, since that's where they happen as the IV and V.
    In order to figured out modes, which I really think is more a hindrance than help in the beginning. You do this...
    Put it against an A bass pedal. So, now you got the IV and V chord of G against your "home" of A....instant dorian.
    Put it against E...and you have aeolian, against B and you have phrygian.
    Makes sense?
     
  19. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Right Ed, his original post said key of C so that's where I got the C from.

    Plus in context of the 1st example it seemed logical.

    Should have paid a closer attention.

    Ben, Ed is correct, that's most likely ii-V-I in G. BTW - That would make the key signature F# not C (no sharps or flats)
     
  20. sirN

    sirN Guest

    One thing I've read that helps with learning the dorian mode is to play a minor pent scale and add the natural 6th, since the 6th is the only difference between the dorian and the natural minor (aolean). Adding it to a familiar scale such as the minor pent, made it easier to grasp (for me anyway).
     

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