The Dorian Study Example showed you some fretboards that can be created with Neck Diagrams, focusing on introducing the Dorian mode and making music with it.
Here we’ll take it further so you can master the Dorian mode in all 5 positions…
Get slick, nail the change
One thing to focus on is the chord change. If you nail this you’ll sound like a pro! To make the transition really smooth you should aim to move to a scale note in the new target scale that’s only a semitone (one fret) away from the note you’re on, at the moment of the chord change.
The change will sound even stronger if you move via a note that isn’t in the scale you’re coming from. Want to sound super sophisticated? Put in a passing tone during the change – this is simply like “filling the gap”, creating a small chromatic run 3 or 4 notes long by adding a note where there isn’t one in the scale (i.e. where there’s an interval of a tone between notes. An example would be during the change from Cm7 to Am7 you could come from the root C, 8th fret high E string playing all semitones along the way down to the A, 5th fret high E string, creating a cool chromatic run: C-B-Bb-A.
Two shapes down, what now?
Now you should do exactly the same thing for the remaining positions! Next up is A Dorian position 2 (D shape) and C Dorian position 1 (E shape). Create diagrams for the new positions and again improvise staying in that position. You can be methodical and jam starting at A Dorian position 1 and work your way through the position shifts until you’ve played through every combination – trust me, that’s quite a workout!
Yeah! I’m a Dorian Master
OK not so fast! Well done on getting this far – now if you really want to push it and make sure you know this stuff totally inside out then taking this to its logical conclusion involves playing through ALL 5 SHAPES IN EACH POSITION. So for example you could create a backing track such as: Am7 / Cm7 / Dm7 / Fm7 / Gm7 (& repeat).
For the first pass through the chords we’ll start with A Dorian position 1 (E shape) and stay in position until we get through the chords and then play A Dorian position 2 (D shape). So what shapes do play for the other chords? We’ve just done Cm7 so that’s position 5 (G shape)…
- Dm7 : D Dorian position 4 (A shape)
- Fm7 : F Dorian position 3 (C shape)
- Gm7 : G Dorian position 2 (D shape)
- back to the Am7, now shifting up to A Dorian position 2 (D shape)
There’s enough stuff to practice here for weeks, if not months. This exercise can be very mentally demanding – you’ll find yourself having to think hard about the next scale shape coming whilst you’re still playing another one! Don’t expect to be shifting through all the chord changes in position after a few days practice (unless of course you know the Dorian scale REALLY well already!). Take your time with each section and keep coming back to it.