Watch the B Dorian Mode online guitar lesson by Robbie Calvo from Sweet Notes

If you've stayed with me so far on the tonal centers thing I'd like to bring us into the realm of the dreaded modes!

How does this all relate to the ever mystical modes? Well first of all there is nothing mystical or hard to understand about the modes regardless of what you may or may not have heard and been lead to believe. You don't have to learn a slew of new scales and patterns to be able to improvise modally. Here's the skinny and this information is transposable to all major keys; We'll work in A to match our progression.In the key of A major you have 7 notes A - B - C# - D - E - F# - G#. Built from the root of each of these notes is a chord Ama7 - Bmi7 - C#mi7 - Dma7 - E7 - F#mi7 - G#mi7(b5).

If your progression has chords from this key and resolves tonally to A (I) then you can use the A major scale resolving to chord tones of the A chord just like we have been doing in our previous lesson plans. This is known as the Ionian mode (The major scale). If your chord progression uses a series of chords from the A major scale but resolves tonally to Bmi (II) you can use the A major scale but target and resolve to tones of the Bmi chord. This is known as the B Dorian mode and directly relates to the II minor chord. If you have a progression utilizing chords from the A major scale but the progression resolves tonally to the C#mi7 (III) you can play the A major scale but targeting and resolving to tones of the C#mi7 chord. This is the C# Phrygian mode. It's that simple. Now, there are complexities that we could get into about 'characteristic notes' of the individual modes and alternate usages but that is a whole DVD set of it's own. Let's keep it simple for now.

I have provided a chart as reference to the seven modes in A major as extra curricular study.

A AM AM 7 A Ionian Mode = A B C# D E F# G# A
B Bmi Bmi7 B Dorian Mode = B C# D E F# G# A B
C# C#m C#m 7 C# Phrygian Mode = C# D E F# G# A B C#
D DM DM7 D Lydian Mode = D E F# G# A B C# D
E EM E7 E Mixolydian Mode = E F# G# A B C# D E
F# F#m F#m 7 F# Aeolian Mode = F# G# A B C# D E F#
G# G#dim G#m 7(b5) G# Locrian Mode = G# A B C# D E F# G#

Right, let's learn a B dorian scale (A major scale pattern resolving to tones of B minor) at the 2nd fret. To really solidify the sound of our Bmi resolution let's start the scale from the B note on the fifth string, second fret.

Name the notes as you play them to familiarize yourself with the fretboard B - C# - D - E - F# - G# - A - B .
Lick 1 - A descending sequence of diatonic 3rds. Starting on A and resolving to B. Lick 2 - A simple lick resolving to the 5th of Bmi7 (F#). Lick 3 - A repeating theme of C# and D with some string skipping to the F# and E notes. This lick resolves to the minor 3rd of Bmi7 (D). Lick 4 - A nicely phrased lick starting with a quarter note, then 8th notes to a 16th note run resolving to the b7 of Bmi7 (A). Lick 5 - This phrase starts with an octave leap from E to E. Play the first E with a downstroke and the second with an upstroke. The lick resolves to the root note, (B).