Learning jazz guitar scales can be a very daunting project. For the jazz newbie there seems to be an endless number of jazz scales that have to be learnt. It can be very overwhelming, and it can often be hard to even know where to start!
In this series of articles we’ll take a look at any of the most important jazz guitar scales that you need to know. Mastering these scales will help you become more fluent and confident with your jazz guitar improvisation. So without any
more delay, let’s take a look at the first jazz guitar scale…
***Jazz Guitar Scale #1: The Dorian Mode***
–The Dorian Mode: Some Basic Theory–
Mastering this scale is vital for improvising in a jazz style. Unless you master it, you WILL struggle playing jazz. Yep…it’s
THAT important. It is hard for me to imagine a jazz song where I would not need to use it!
The dorian mode has the following formula…
1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7
This formula tells us what we need to do to the major scale in order to create the dorian mode. Let’s work out the notes of
the D dorian mode to make things clear…
Write down the notes of the D major scale. Doing this gives us these notes…
D E F# G A B C#
Flatten the third and seventh notes of the D major scale. We have to do this because the formula of the dorian more has a b3
and a b7. Flattening these notes gives us this…
D E F G A B C
These are the notes of the D dorian mode.
–The Dorian Mode: Where To Use It–
The dorian mode works really well over minor 7th chords. So in our example above, we would use the D dorian mode over D minor
7th chords. The reason why the dorian mode works so well over minor 7th chords is because the formula for minor 7th chords is
1 b3 5 b7. Notice how these chord tones are also in the formula for the dorian mode.
To help you learn the dorian mode, here is a cool sounding four bar chord progression. Your goal is to master soloing over it…
// Dmin7 / Dmin7 / Fmin7 / Fmin7 //
To improvise over this chord progression use D dorian for the first two bars, and F dorian for the last two bars. It can be
quite challenging to switch between the two scales fluently. Especially if you recorded the chord progression at a really
fast tempo. But that’s what makes jazz fun!