Dorian Guitar Mode Definition

Dorian Guitar Mode Blog Graphic

What is the Dorian Guitar Mode/Scale?

The Dorian guitar mode/scale is the second mode out of the seven diatonic modes.

It’s a minor mode because of its minor 3rd (b3) and minor 7th (b7) intervals.

Understanding the Dorian Guitar Mode

What is the formula for a Dorian scale

The formula for Dorian is: 1-2-b3-4-5-6-b7

You can think of it like a major scale with a flattened 3rd and flattened 7th.

You can also think of it like a minor scale with a major 6th.

What scale degree does Dorian start on?

Dorian starts on the 2nd degree of the major scale.

For example, the notes in a C major scale are C-D-E-F-G-A-B.

If you start from the second degree of that scale, which is the D note, you get the notes D-E-F-G-A-B-C.

Is D Dorian the same as C major?

D Dorian has the same notes as C major (C Ionian), but they do not have the same function or scale formula.

What does the Dorian mode sound like?

The way to differentiate one mode from another mode is by the sound, notes emphasized, musical context, and chords being played behind it.

The Dorian mode tends to sound like a funkier, happier natural minor scale (Aeolian). This is due to the fact that Dorian contains a major 6th instead of a minor 6th.

It’s sound is popular in jazz and funk.

Chords in the Dorian mode

The diatonic chords in the Dorian mode are:


The chords in D Dorian are:

D Minor – E Minor – F Major – G Major – A Minor – B Diminished – C Major

Playing Dorian on guitar

To understand the Dorian scale and how to play it, we’ll look at the first Dorian scale position using a CAGED major scale shape. The shape will be played in D Dorian.

The chart shows the intervals and how they relate to C Major. You can learn the other for CAGED shapes here.

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