A Dorian?


hdoran
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Joined: 02/12/12
Posts: 44
hdoran
Full Access
Joined: 02/12/12
Posts: 44
02/10/2013 4:36 pm
Friends:

I have written a song that includes the following chords:

E major, G Major, A Major, b minor

and it also includes a little chromatic walk up going from

D to C# to C to b and then back to a main chord progression starting on E major.

These chords do not exist together in the Ionian mode. If I were in the A Dorian mode, the chords could be (using caps for major and lower for minor)

A - b - c - D - E - f# - gdim

So the chords in my song are not all in this mode, but it's close. I can't yet find a mode that combines all of these chords together.

My question therefore is two things:

1) Am I close or am I missing something altogether in terms of what key I am in?
2) For soloing, it seems like to A dorian mode would be the right choice if I'm in the right key.

Thanks ahead of time for any guidance.
# 1
ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,386
ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,386
02/11/2013 4:14 pm
Originally Posted by: hdoran
I have written a song that includes the following chords:

E major, G Major, A Major, b minor

and it also includes a little chromatic walk up going from

D to C# to C to b and then back to a main chord progression starting on E major.

This is all good info, but its missing the most important component: the melody. So, what are your melody notes? Those more than anything else will determine the key, keys or modes you are using.

If you write out all the notes in all those chord, then you will get very close to a D major scale.

G major (IV)
A major (V)
B minor (vi)
E major (II) (Normally E minor chord in the key of D major)

So, the notes of the D major scale, or B minor (relative minor of D major) will work for all of it except the E major chord. At that point, you'd have to alter the scale note G to G# to align with the E major chord.

Interestingly, if you play the B minor pentatonic scale (B-D-E-F#-A), you are avoid defining the E chord as major or minor (notice the G is left out when playing pentatonic instead of diatonic).

However, based on the info you present, it sounds as if E is your root note. You start on E, have a final chord that is the 5th of E (even though it is a minor chord), you even have a little walk down of notes ending on B as the climax (the 5th) of the progression that will point to E (the 1st) as a resolution & restart point.

So, add these two points together:

1. The notes of the chords are closest to D major.
2. The chord progression suggests E as the root note.

Result: you are in E dorian, the 2nd mode of D major.

E-F#-G-A-B-C#-D

Now this still doesn't address what you are going to do when the E major chord happens. :) Most importantly, do you want to emphasize or de-emphasize the fact that the E major chord is altered from the rest of the chords? Options!

1. You want to emphasize, or stress, that the E major chord is the exception. So you should play the note (or a group of notes containing) G# to make this happen. Make the part of the melody that happens when the E major chord sounds notes from the E dorian mode with the G altered to G#. This temporarily turns your E dorian into E mixolydian.

E-F#-G#-A-B-C#-D

Example!

E|------------------------------------------------------|
B|--9----7-9----------8----7-8--------------------------|
G|-----9-----------------7------------------------------|
D|------------------------------------------------------|
A|------------------------------------------------------|
E|------------------------------------------------------|

E major ----> G major ---->

2. You want to de-emphasize, or not stress, that the E major chord is the exception. So, you should avoid playing the note (or a group of notes containing) G or G# to make this happen. Your chords (& the underlying harmony) will still suggest the E major chord & E mixolydian. But, by avoiding the G and the G# (for example, by playing B minor pentatonic), you can create the impression of still being in one unaltered key by the melody.

Example!

E|---------7----------------------7---------------------|
B|-10b(12)---10-7---------10b(12)---10-7----------------|
G|-----------------9-----------------------7------------|
D|------------------------------------------------------|
A|------------------------------------------------------|
E|------------------------------------------------------|

E major ----> G major ---->

To generalize, there are different strategies you can use for soloing.

1. You can find a scale or mode that works as close as possible for everything. Simply alter the scale or mode as necessary for exceptions as they occur.

2. You can solo over each chord as it happens. Pick a scale or mode as you desire the sound. Experiment! Mix & match! :)

But ultimately, you have to define the melody. That, more than anything else turns your chord progression & soloing licks into a song, a musical piece.

I cover improvisation concepts & approaches in these tutorials.

http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=876
http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=483
http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=491

I cover using modes in functional & ornamental methods in this tutorial.

http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=770

Have fun!
Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory
# 2
hdoran
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Joined: 02/12/12
Posts: 44
hdoran
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Joined: 02/12/12
Posts: 44
02/11/2013 8:55 pm
Chris:

This is immensely helpful. You say the following and I want to make sure I understand this concept.

"So, the notes of the D major scale, or B minor (relative minor of D major) will work for all of it except the E major chord. At that point, you'd have to alter the scale note G to G# to align with the E major chord."

I understand there are two approaches to understanding modes. Either the parallel approach or the derivative approach. The E Dorian scale can be derived (derivative approach) from the D Ionian scale.

Now, with this knowledge, I can play the notes of the D major (Ionian) scale and I am still playing in the E Dorian scale, though resolving to a different root.

Now also, b minor is the relative minor of the D Ionian scale. Since I know the b minor penatonic patterns, I can apply this and play that scale up and down the fretboard and I am still playing notes that are also in the E Dorian, again resolving to a different root.

Basically, I'm trying to make a big problem small and connect what I already know to this new problem. If I'm understanding this right, it means I don't have to learn a new scale for E Dorian, per se. Instead, I can connect the E Dorian to the D major and b minor and play those scales as I already know them.

Hopefully I'm making sense.
# 3
ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,386
ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,386
02/12/2013 2:44 pm
Originally Posted by: hdoran
This is immensely helpful. You say the following and I want to make sure I understand this concept.

You are welcome. It's sounds like you've got the idea! The E dorian is simply the notes of D major (or B minor) with the emphasis on the note E.

But you still have to figure out what to do with the E major chord; the exception to the key of D major.

The first step is figuring out which key a group of chords imply. Next, look for exceptions that will imply altering or changing the scale.

These two steps should eventually lead to the broader goals: play the chord changes & build a melody.
Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory
# 4

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