Lesson 7
The Dorian mode

  1. The Minor 7th Chord
  2. The Dorian mode
  3. Dance with me Annushka (Song)
  4. Mode Practice (for 'Dance with me Annushka')
  5. Improvisation - Rhythm Patterns 31 to 35
  6. The Woodshed
  7. The Dorian mode Ruler
  8. Quiz and Quiz Answers
  9. Practice Materials

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Im 7.1 - The Minor 7th Chord

The C minor 7th chord consists of : C   Eb   G   Bb
In relation to the C major scale the notes : 1   b3    5   b7

To form a scale for improvisation over a minor 7th chord, simply flatten the 3rd and 7th note of the major scale (that starts on the root note of the chord). This produces the so called 'Dorian mode'.

In C :

Audio 7.1

In F :
Audio 7.2

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Im 7.2 - The Dorian mode

Like the Mixolydian mode, the Dorian mode is a displaced major scale with an different tonic note. The major scale related to the Dorian mode has its tonic note one whole tone lower.

The C Dorian mode is derived from the Bb major scale.

Audio 7.3

The F Dorian mode is derived from the Eb major scale.
Audio 7.4

In other words, a Dorian mode is built from the 2nd note of any major scale.

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Im 7.3 - Dance with me Annushka (song)

Dance with me Annushka is medium tempo Swing style Jazz tune in the key of D minor. The song is 16 bars long and has an AB format.

The rhythm pattern of the first 4 bars is repeated in the next 4 bars. Likewise the rhythm pattern of bars 9 to 12 is repeated in bars 13 to 16.

Audio 7.5

Dance with me Annushka : Swapping 4s - Demo

  1. Track 1 (6 choruses) - : I play the first 4 bars, you play the following 4 bars.

  2. Track 2 (6 choruses) - : You play the first 4 bars, I follow.

    Improvise using the D and G Dorian modes, and the C Mixolydian mode.

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Im 7.4 - Mode Practice (for 'Dance with me Annushka')

For improvisation over Dance with me Annushka you use three modes.

  1. Over Dm7 : D Dorian mode - D E F G A B C D
  2. Over Gm7 : G Dorian mode - G A Bb C D E F G
  3. Over C7 : C Mixolydian mode - C D E F G A Bb C
The notes for the G Dorian mode and C Mixolydian mode are the same, because they are modes derived from the same major scale : F major.
Audio 7.6

There is only 1 note different between the three modes. The D Dorian mode contains a B, while the the C Mixolydian and G Dorian modes have instead a Bb. These are the critical tones for improvisation over this song.

Audio 7.7

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Im 7.5 - Improvisation - Rhythm Patterns 31 to 35

Starting a phrase on beat 1 of a bar is OK initially, but it can become rather predictable to listen to. Good improvisers start phrases at any point in the bar. This creates great interest and variety in their solos. Check out for example the transcribed solos of Charlie Parker in the 'Charlie Parker Omnibook'. His phrasing is an outstanding example of what to aim for.

There are eight different starting points in a bar, the four down beats (1 2 3 4) and the four offbeats (+ + + +).


Practice starting a phrase on each of these eight points. Concentrate on one point at a time.
Rhythm Patterns 31 - 35 start either on 1 + or on 2. Try also to do some free improvisation starting on these points.

Audio 7.8

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Im 7.6 - The Woodshed

Start practice on the Dorian mode in all keys.
First priority are the major scales in A, D, G, C, F and Bb.   Then add the others : Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, B, E.

Work on the following exercise :

Audio 7.9

Be especially aware of the two notes that are different from the major scale, the b3 and b7 (Eb and Bb in C Mixolydian mode).

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Im 7.7 - The Dorian mode Ruler

The Dorian mode Ruler works in the same way as the Major scale Ruler.

Use the strips below to find the notes of the Dorian mode in any key.

  1. Align the Tonic note of the required Dorian mode on the Letter strip
  2. with the '1' on the Mixolydian mode strip


For example, to find the A Dorian mode and Am7 chord :
  1. align A on the Letter strip
  2. with the '1' on the Mixolydian mode strip



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Im 7.8 - Quiz

  1. Convert these major scale into Dorian modes with the same tonic note (1st note) by altering two notes of the scale.
    1. F G A Bb C D E F

    2. D E F# G A B C# D

    3. Bb C D Eb F G A Bb

    4. G A B C D E F# G

    5. E F# G# A B C# D# E

  2. Convert these major scales into Dorian modes by using all the same notes and placing them in the correct order.
    1. F G A Bb C D E F

    2. D E F# G A B C# D

    3. Bb C D Eb F G A Bb

    4. G A B C D E F# G

    5. E F# G# A B C# D# E

  3. Which Dorian mode consists of white notes on the keyboard only ?

  4. Fill in the missing notes in these Dorian modes.
    1. A B ? D E F# ? A

    2. D E ? G A B ? D

    3. F G ? Bb C D ? F

    4. Eb F ? Ab Bb C ? Eb

    5. B C# ? E F# G# ? B


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Im 7.9 Practice Materials

Dance with me Annushka Lead sheet Bb - Eb Melody & Impro Play-along
Swapping 4s Track a Track b Demo
Rhythm Patterns Notation Demo
The Woodshed Dorian mode Demo Play-along
Ruler Dorian mode Ruler

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Copyright © 1997 - 2007 Michael Furstner.