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Watch the Dorian, Phrygian, and Aeolian online guitar lesson by Robbie Calvo from The Modal Alchemist

I've created a static chord vamp of D minor 7 with some passing power chord punctuations so that we can superimpose all three minor modes from the major scale over the top of it. We can apply all 3 minor modes and each one will have its own characteristic sound based on the intervals that make up its chemistry. Dorian has a major 6th, Phrygian has a minor 2nd and Aeolian has a minor 6th. Can we use all 3 in the same solo? You certainly can and I truly advocate that you try it!

D Dorian
D Dorian is going to be derived from the key of C and will give us a characteristic tone of the major 6th (B). The characteristic note is not found in the chord so it isn't a resolution point or sweet note but it is the tone that will give us the Dorian flavor. Target the B note to pull that flavor out but resolve to chord tones of D minor 7.

D Phrygian
The D Phrygian mode is the 3rd mode in the key of Bb. We are going to play D Phrygian over our D minor 7 chord vamp to hear the characteristic note, the minor 2nd interval against the chord. The minor 2nd, Eb has a lot of tension and character and of course is not a resolution point. It does however add a really nice flavor to the melodic possibilities.

Try playing D Dorian and then switch to D Phrygian. You should hear the differences immediately. The main differences will be the major 2nd and 6th of Dorian vs. the minor 2nd and 6th of Phrygian.

D Aeolian
D Aeolian is the 6th mode in the key of F. The D Aeolian mode sounds very smooth and has less character than the other 2 modes against the D minor 7 chord vamp. The characteristic note is Bb, the minor 6th. Target the Bb to pull out the flavor of Aeolian but remember it is not a chord tone resolution. Resolving to the 5th, A, will sound really cool after playing the minor 6th as it is a semitone away in pitch and this type of resolution will sound strong and deliberate.

Once you have the Aeolian mode under your fingers at the 5th position, try switching between all 3 modes. Target each characteristic note and really work to hear the qualities of each mode.

I strongly advocate that you also try to create your own chord vamp in another key as a backdrop for more studies using all 3 minor modes.