Thomas Berglund
Thomas Berglund
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Soloing with three pentatonic scales in the dorian mode

In this lesson I´ll show three pentatonic scales to soloing with in the dorian mode.

I´ll be in the key of A minor (dorian). The common pentatonic scale in that key is the A minor pentatonic scale. That´s the first scale to come up when one starts to soloing in most cases. But there are two more to use and there are the B and the E minor pentatonic scales in the dorian mode.

An easy way to figure out these scales is to play the minor pentatonic scale (Root - minor 3rd - perfect 4th - perfect 5th - minor 7th) from the root tone (A), from the 2nd tone (B) and from the 5th tone (E) in the dorian scale.

The tones in those three pentatonic scales are included in the dorian scale and in the tabs below I´ll show these scales in the 5th position.

Dorian scale


A minor pentatonic scale


B minor pentatonic scale


E minor pentatonic scale


If you look at the tones in the three pentatonic scales you´ll see that they´re all included in the dorian scale. So why not say that you´re soloing with the dorian scale then? When I´m soloing and have the pentatonic scales in mind and playing phrases with these scales mixed I get a certain sound that I don´t get when I´m just having the dorian scale in mind. That´s my simple answer and I think you must try it to feel the difference.

A good start to be used with this kind of playing is to compose your own phrases. In the video lesson I´ll show one composed phrase. You´ll see it in the note/tabs below. In that phrase I´ll go from Am to Em to Bm and back to Am pentatonic scale.

Pentatonic_Scale_lick cut.jpg

Eric Johnson and Scott Hendersson are two among other guitar players that uses this in the playing quite much. I´ll recommend to listen to them and get some inspiration. Listen and find your own way in this and I´ll promise that it´ll be great fun to soloing with three pentatonic scales in the dorian mode.

Good luck!

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@pauljones   4 years ago
I had never tought about playing the dorian mode like this, but it makes perfect sense; by thinking in pentatonic scales it's easier to come up with fresh ideas and phrases in the mode. I have a feeling that when you're thinking about the mode itself you make it sound too obvious. But if you play it this way the color of the mode is jazzier and more refined. Just a question: Would this also work for all the other modes? Anyway,great stuff Thomas :)
Thomas Berglund
@thomas-berglund   4 years ago
Thanks for comment Paul! Yes, you can explore the modes and find out which pentatonic scales works best for you but there are always three of them in the different modes when talk about the common minor pentatonic scale I discuss in the lesson. For example in the lydian mode in G I like to use the B and the E minor pentatonic scales but I´m not playing on the A minor pentatonic so very often when the tones in that scale don´t fit my ears so to say. Theoretically you can use the three pentatonic scales in every mode but for me certain scales don´t fit so well in general. Depending on the music situation the scale that fits well can change but I like certain of these scales better than other in the different mode. /all the best
@michaelsocarras   4 years ago
great post. great lick Thomas. Easy to remember little dorian box. will try this out for sure!!
Thomas Berglund
@thomas-berglund   4 years ago
Makes me glad you like it Michael! Thanks for comment!