How to make... Dorian mode?

Hi guys,

in term of theory I know what’s dorian mode, Lydian, etc etc

But I am really stuck in “how can I make feel this melody like Dorian mode?”…

In this case, Dorian mode, we know that the particular note are min 3rd and maj 6th.

So, my question is this, I want to compose in dorian and wanna give the dorian flavour to this track…

for instance we are in Dm Dorian
Should I play a bass line all in D and in the middle range various chords and at the top the melody line with a lot of 3rd and 6th?

Or should I play like this progression: Dm - G - Am - Am7
so the bass plays the root note, and the melody plays the 3rd and the 6th, F and B, over Dm to make this Dorian flavour and when it’s on G we can play guide tone or chord tone etc etc?

Having a “pedal bass” (where the bass sticks on D) would definitely give it a modal feel, but could get static. A lot of the old modal jazz tracks used to use riffs under their melodies - but the jazzers tend not to stick to a set mode, they use a pedal bass and alter the modes over the top to add flavour.

When you’re writing in a set mode, it’s just about changing the chords that you use and emphasising what makes the mode stand out from the “ordinary” scales - so in the case of Dorian, that’s the #6.

So, if you’re in D Dorian, the chords you can use are:
Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim, C

One thing you could try, to figure out how it works, is to take the chord sequence from a song in Dorian and loop it, play around with your melody over the top. Just to help you get the feel for it.

Here are some tracks in Dorian mode:

( actually, the melody in the intro is BOTH Dorian and Aeolian :wink: )

Have fun!

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I think the flavour of the dorian mode is the 6#. But it does not mean you have to play b natural in the melody above D minor - although it is possible. More interessting is to recognize the Different chord progression in a dorian mode. Your chord changes have I - IV - V - in mind. Do not think in the dorian as if it is a major or aeolian scale with I - IV - V progression. Forget the V in the Dorian mode. In a dorian mode you have other chords at the front. ex.: Dm - C - Dm - C or Dm - Em - Dm - Dm or Dm - F maj7/11+ or something like that . Pick the chords with b natural and c. ex.: Dm7 - G - Dm7 - G - . I think Am is good , Am7 is better but Am7/9 has the flavour of dorian in this case. Analyse the very traditional and simple song “Scarborough Fair”. You can not find the V of the mode in this song. I think the song Eleanor Rigby is a bit complicated, because it has C major and Em6 in it. The first is aeolian and the second is dorian .But the main chord changes is between Em and Cmajor. But the melody above Em has c# in it and then it comes Cmajor. It is a mixture. I suggest to look some of the videos of Rick Beato on this Channel on youtube. He explaines the essentials parts of a dorian mode.

Klaus Ferretti


Hi Carlo,
You mention possibly you play bass so not sure :thinking:

So for me when I want to learn a new sound I drill it over and over and over and over :crazy_face:
and for me this helps and maybe this will help You as well
helps to play over a backing track with the mode you want to learn
And just targeted some one of those notes others having mention
I think this is correct if not please correct me :open_mouth: as I still learning as well

#6 which is a C note and b7 which is a B note
D E F G A B C D - D dorian

Rick Beato -note it’s in E Dorian
Film Scoring 101- Dorian Mode - Concepts of Music for Film

Bass Backing Track D dorian - Funk Rock Groove - NO BASS

BASSLESS Backing Track for BASS players in D dorian mode

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