Watch the Aeolian online guitar lesson by Chris Buono from Modes That Matter
Coming off the 6th degree of the major scale we get the Aeolian mode whose formula is as follows: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7. With the b3rd in the formula we make a return to a minor-based scale sound. Like Dorian it can be played over applicable minor chords that are built from other degrees of the overall key signature such as ii and iii. That said, when in doubt it’s best to go with Dorian, but in the end your ear should be the final judge.
The Aeolian mode, like the Ionian mode, has an important second identity. It’s also known as the natural and/or relative minor scale. Just as the major scale breeds the major key signatures so does the natural scale breed the relative minor key sigs. This makes the Aeolian mode and its formula all the more important to your overall theoretical understanding.
The following three segments will put Aeolian in appropriate style settings such as rock, metal and a down tempo slow jam. The latter is especially revealing in regards to the textures Aeolian possesses.