Blending the Dorian Mode with the Melodic Minor Scale

September 1, 2009

IN THIS LESSON WE’LL EXPLORE A QUICK way to mix the Dorian mode with the melodic minor scale. If you know the formulas for these scales, you will notice that there is only one note difference between them. The Dorian formula is 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, b7 and the melodic minor scale formula is 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, 7. The only difference is the 7th degree.

Here are some basic fingering patterns for each.


Ex. 1a is a three-note-per-string A Dorian pattern starting on the sixth string. Ex. 1b is an A melodic minor scale starting from the same spot, and Ex. 1c is a pattern mixing the two scales. Notice the Es that are doubled on the second and third strings—this adds a neat effect. These patterns work in all keys, so you’ll want to learn them all over the neck.

http://www.guitarplayer.com/uploadedImages/guitarplayer/Lessons/GP0909_Lessons_Metal_Ex-1.jpg

Ex. 2 is a phrase based off A melodic minor (A, B, C, D, E, F# , G# ) and A Dorian (A, B, C, D, E, F# , G). You’ll have to stretch your fingers a little for this one, so you might want to follow the suggested fingerings. (Check out the cool doubled Es that we talked about in bar 2.)

http://www.guitarplayer.com/uploadedImages/guitarplayer/Lessons/GP0909_Lessons_Metal_Ex-2.jpg

The phrase in Ex. 3 is also in the key of A, and has a classical vibe for the first couple of bars. The last bar has a bluesy feel because of the added natural 6th. The first two bars can be from the A harmonic minor scale (A, B, C, D, E, F, G# ) as well as the A melodic minor. The harmonic minor scale is similar to the melodic minor scale, just the 6 is different, with the melodic minor sporting a natural 6th as opposed to the harmonic minor’s flatted 6th. You will notice a chromatic passing tone between the G and A in the last bar.

http://www.guitarplayer.com/uploadedImages/guitarplayer/Lessons/GP0909_Lessons_Metal_Ex-3.jpg

Ex. 4 is a shred lick using this concept. This one is also in the key of A and is a great picking exercise. There is some string skipping in this lick, which can be tricky. Be sure both hands are in sync and gradually build up speed.

http://www.guitarplayer.com/uploadedImages/guitarplayer/Lessons/GP0909_Lessons_Metal_Ex-4.jpg

Ex. 5 moves across the neck very quickly using arpeggios from the melodic minor scale. The very top of the line starts off with an Am/maj7 arpeggio—A, C, E, G# —alternating with the G natural from the Dorian mode. Bar 2 kicks off with some slippery two-string arpeggios: G# m7b5, F# m7b5, and E7.

http://www.guitarplayer.com/uploadedImages/guitarplayer/Lessons/GP0909_Lessons_Metal_Ex-5.jpg

Ex. 6 uses an uncommon three-string arpeggio. The pattern is mainly 1, b3, b7 and 1, 2, b7, alternating off different degrees from both scales (except the very first beat of the line which is 1, b3, 6). The picking pattern I use is down, down up, but feel free to experiment.

http://www.guitarplayer.com/uploadedImages/guitarplayer/Lessons/GP0909_Lessons_Metal_Ex-6.jpg

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