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  • rbedwell3

Turning a minor key chord progression into a Dorian mode progression

I had a student mention that in curriculum music at school, the Dorian mode is described as a mode that the druids in Britain used thousands of years ago. I'm not sure about the veracity of that statement, but I do know that a lot of folk music from the UK is in the Dorian mode.

I was then asked to explain how one could write a piece in the Dorian mode, which I shall outline here for those who are not sure.

Firstly, take a chord progression that is in a minor key and write out the chords. For example:

A minor - F Maj - C Maj - G Maj

Now, Dorian is mode II of the major scale, so A minor is chord II of the new scale we are using, G Major. Next, write out the chords in G Major: G Maj - A min - B min - C Maj - D Maj - E min - F#minb5

Substitute the relative chords from G Major for the chords in the original progression, so F#minb5 or D for F Major. The C and G are the same for now. That now makes the chord progression:

A min - F# minb5/D - C - G

Next, add the note that is different from the original key, in this case F#, to the remaining chords. C with an F# = C Maj7#11, and G with an F# makes G Maj 7. Not all chords have to have the F# in, just sprinkle conservatively throughout. The progression is now:

Amin - D - C Maj7#11 - G Maj7

Another option is to add the F# to the tonic chord, A minor. That would make A min6 chord, as the F# is the Major 6th being substituted for the more common minor 6th interval which is found in the Aeolian mode, or natural minor scale that we started in. Again, not every chord needs the F# in, maybe a variation when repeating, such as:

Am - D - C - G Maj7 - Amin6 - D - C Maj7#11 - G - A min - D7/F# - C/G - G

The scale used to play over the progression is now G Major also, giving the sound of mode II, A Dorian. One could also use E7 at the end to create a turnaround, a perfect cadence to emphasise the role of A minor.

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