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Scales and Modes With Joshua Barnhart: Chord Scales, a Breakdown of Scales and Their Functions Part II

Meet Joshua Barnhart

Hello and welcome to part two of my series where we break down scales, modes and their functions in music. Today we’re exploring Dorian. Dorian is the mode of the second scale degree in the Major scale [ex1]. It’s the brightest sounding minor scale of the church modes, and is our scale for the II-(ii) chord in a II-7 V7 I progression. Its heavily used in Jazz because of its brighter sound and close relation to Melodic Minor. Dorian is used a lot in modal jazz because of its strong bVII to I resolution making it easily vamp-able. Anyone who has play So What, Impressions, or Footprints knows that scale well.

Time for some finger workouts. This time we’re going to focus on broken intervals, especially thirds, but what I’ll show you can be applied to all different types of intervals. We’re simply going to ascend the scale one note at a time but we’re going to add a third that’s true to the scale in between each note of Dorian [ex2]. Also pay attention to the direction of the third, and separate it from the direction of the scale. If you’re ascending the scale, and you’re thirds are up like in ex2 then makes sure when you descend that your thirds are in the same direction as when you descend. Like 1,3,2,4,3,5,4,65,7,6,8,7,2|8,3,7,2,6,8,5,7,4,6,3,5,2,4,1,3

Now we’re going to switch it up. We’re going to descend in thirds but ascend the scale. It’s the same as what we did in ex2, but the third comes first [ex3]. And descend the same way.

Ok so you’ve got the concept now. Here is the ultimate brainteaser. The two you’ve done, ascending, and descending, we’re going to alternate them. Up one down the next [ex4].

Now here is the big picture. Ultimately our goal is to get you around on your instrument. So each of these exercises can be applied to any scale, any mode, at any interval, in any key, at any tempo. The real test is to do this exercise with all the different intervals 2nds 3rds 4ths 5ths 6ths 7ths 8ths, in different positions across 2 octaves. Try it with Ionian, and also try the Ionian exercise we got from our last lesson and run it through this test.

Take your time get it right, remember perfect practice makes perfect.

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