In our previous discussion, we had gone over a brief overview of each of the seven modes, including their inherent sonic characteristics (you can check it out here), and in the name of continuing our exploration of the modes, we will have a more in-depth look at the A Dorian scale (i.e. the second mode).
What you see above is the A Dorian scale, which is the second mode of the G Ionian scale, or G Major scale.
One trick that I use to remember the Dorian scale, think of it like a major scale, but with a minor third and a minor 7th.
*If you're playing the extended scale, just add the number 7 to account for the intervals within the octave range. For example, because the 3rd and 7th intervals are flattened a half-step, so too will the 10th, 14th and 17th intervals. I know this can sound a bit confusing, so to make things easier, just remember the following octave equivalents:
Chord tones in A Dorian:
1st, 8th, 15th = A
3rd, 10th, 17th = C
5th, 12th = E
7th & 14th = G
Since this scale possesses a flat 3rd and flat 7th, it's sonic composition sounds bluesy. Of course, you're under no obligation to include the 7th, as the inherent minor triad is enough to get the sonic "message" of an A minor chord across; but as Shai Agmon shared with us (check out our discussion here), there seems to be some "magical" qualities to 7th chords.
Compare each of the two scale shapes, notice any similarities? Very good! A Dorian is essentially A minor pentatonic with two additional notes (i.e. B and F#), making the scale 5 notes (hence its scale name: pentatonic), and accounts for its bluesy sound.
For you overachievers out there, I've provided a backing track as a bit of extra credit. The chords included in the backing track are Am7 and C Maj.
When tinkering around with this backing track, try to aim for and emphasize the chord tones of each respective chord.
-C (minor 3rd),
-E (perfect 5th)
-G (minor 7th -- the magical 7th)
Above all, really, just have fun with it, and if you come up with anything interesting that you'd like to share, I'd love to hear. And be sure to get some good bends and suitable vibrato. :)