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Jaime Vazquez Bass Lines: The Jazz Minor Sound of the Dorian Mode

Hello BMM & Community! This time we’ll work on bass lines using one of the most popular modes used in jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, etc. The Dorian mode! In Western music, the Dorian mode is the 2nd diatonic mode of the major scale. This minor mode is symmetric, meaning that the pattern of tones and semitones is the same ascending or descending (T-s-T-T-T-s-T). Use this mode over minor chords. The Dorian mode has a jazzy minor sound, perfect for the ii-V-I progression. Let’s take a look at the formula of this cool mode:

The Dorian Mode Formula:

1 – 2 – b3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – b7

The A Dorian Mode:

A – B – C – D – E – F# – G

As you can see, the A Dorian Mode contains all notes the same as the G major scale starting on A.

The G Major Scale (Ionian Mode):

G – A – B – C – D – E – F#


Fig.1 is the bass vamp of Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunisia.” Check the D Dorian Mode application at Dm.

Fig. 2 is a walking bass line for Johnny Mercer’s “Autumn Leaves.” An example of a ii-V-I progression.

Fig. 3 is a blues rock bass riff based on the A Dorian mode.

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