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  • rbedwell3

Playing outside I: Dorian Alternatives part IV

For this fourth and final instalment I will be covering scales with three and four altered notes that are suitable to be played over a Dorian vamp (eg: A minor to B minor) or Dorian chord (minMaj6).

In part III, I covered the scales with two altered notes that can be played over A Dorian. These were as follows:

B Neapolitan Major (G# and A#) = 1 b2 b3 4 5 6 7

F# Neapolitan Major b5 (D# and E#) = 1 b2 b3 4 b5 6 7

E Harmonic Major (G# and D#) = 1 2 3 4 5 b6 7

F# Harmonic minor b5 (G# and E#) = 1 2 b3 4 b5 b6 7

E Hungarian minor (D# and A#) = 1 2 b3 #4 5 b6 7

F# Persian (A# and E#) = 1 b2 3 4 b5 b6 7

As you can see, the altered notes that fit well with A Dorian are A#, D#, E# and G#. That gives us eleven notes to play with. First, the scales with three altered notes:

F# Melodic b5 (D#, E# and G#) = 1 2 b3 4 b5 6 7

F# Persian natural 6 (A#, D# and E#) = 1 b2 3 4 b5 6 7

F# Harmonic Major b5 (A#, E# and G#) = 1 2 3 4 b5 b6 7

E Harmonic Major #4 (A#, D# and G#) = 1 2 3 #4 5 b6 7

These are the scales that will take you much further out while still sounding good, but they need to be used sparingly. Like a really powerful ingredient in a recipe. Just a sprinkling or it will spoil the dish. If you are comfortable with the scales that have one or two notes altered, such as Melodic, Neapolitan Major etc, then throw in a little one of theses scales after using one of those. The more altered notes, the more difficult it is to keep the scales to three notes per string, so find a position or two that seem comfortable and memorise that and the Major scale position that it fits over.

Finally, the Dorian alternative with four altered notes in. Say hello to F# Ionian b5. It is only one note different to the Major scale, so it is easy to remember, but the patterns are much trickier. I prefer to use the F# Ionian b5 position itself and the B Lydian b2. Again, tread carefully. There is definitely a knack in getting just the right amount of dissonance, staying too long on this scale and it wears out it’s welcome very quickly. Think of it as a very strong personality, little and not very often.

I find I use the single altered note scales all of the time. They are Melodic, Neapolitan minor, Harmonic minor and Locrian natural 7. I only use the Major scale positions for the resolution notes, then I’m off again. Same with the two notes scales, but I use them less frequently. A rough percentage might be: 1 note altered 60%, 2 notes altered 25%, 3 notes altered 10%, 4 notes altered 5% of the time. Different tastes may vary these percentages though.

Below are the modes from the 3 and 4 altered note scales, as mentioned above. They are all on the root of A, where suitable. If they are not, it is because the position over the A Dorian position is somewhat awkward to play and so an easier position is substituted.

Next, I shall look at the altered notes that fit over the Lydian mode. If you enjoy this style of music theory, check out my book The Modal Method of Music and my facebook group Modal Method Music Theory. Here is the book link:

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