#1
Hello friends,

I am not very experienced with music theory and modes, but I've had some free time lately so I've been doing some practicing. I am a little confused as to whether the dorian scale can be played in a major key (played over a major chord progression). I was jamming to the chords during the solo from the song Soul to Squeeze by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and noticed that Dorian gave a nice sound. This confuses me because that portion of the song I believe is in F major. So I was playing in F major dorian (not sure if thats the way to describe it). I didn't think dorian could be played over a major progression. I'm not sure exactly how Frusciante's solo goes and I'm to lazy to go figure it out, but I'm not sure if his solo is in Dorian. So would it be right in saying that it is possible to play any mode over a major chord progression as long as the sounds are not too dissonant? I believe this is what jazz gets into but again I'm not experienced.

Thanks!
PJ
#2
compare the dorian mode to the major scale. the only difference is in the 3rd degree (minor for dorian, major for major). otherwise, the two are comprised of the same notes. also consider that switching between parallel major and minor (which the difference in these 3rds embody) is a technique that isn't uncommon, or that in blues, a minor 3rd is often bent toward the major 3rd, and you can begin to understand why it sounded fine.

i'm no expert, but that's my take

*whoops, yea, the dorian also has the flat 7th that the major doesn't have
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Last edited by vIsIbleNoIsE at May 7, 2016,
#3
You need to study theory in a logical order. Best way is to buy a good book if you're self taught. Or find a good teacher.

To be honest, I'd just play and enjoy! If it sounds good then it probably is!

I can recommend a good book if you're that way inclined...
#4
Dorian is a minor mode, it can't be major by virtue of its minor 3rd degree. Also, there's a flat 7 that further differentiates it from major.

No matter what, it'll sound like F major, not [insert name of scale here]... If it actually were in F major.

D minor and F major have different functions.

Edit: listened to more, there's a lot of interplay, but yeah it's in F. You're good there
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#5
So you're saying that it is actually in D minor? or that I should stop trying to analyze it?


Edit: Ok then, but it does seem to resolve on D minor as well as F major.
Last edited by Pearl Jammer#1 at May 6, 2016,
#6
If the background is all F major, whatever you play is going to either sound like F major or bad.

I'm not sure where you're getting Dorian from. It helps to leave a recording or the like.
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lots of flirting with the other key without confirming. JUST LIKE THEIR LOVE IN THE MOVIE OH DAMN.
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#7
I just listened to it. It is in F major.

You can solo very easily using F major pentatonic shape 5.
#8
What notes were you using exactly? What do you mean by "F major Dorian"? If by "F major Dorian" you mean the "second mode of the F major scale" (ie, G Dorian), then you were actually playing F major (because G Dorian is exactly the same notes as F major and over the same chords it will sound like F major). If you were talking about F Dorian (ie, F minor with a raised 6th), well, it doesn't fit perfectly, but then again, the b3 and b7 in the scale may give you a bluesy sound that could fit it. Also, most of the notes would still be diatonic to the key (5 out of 7), so it shouldn't sound way off.

Technically you can use any notes you want. Pretty much any note can be made sound good over pretty much anything. But you need to know how to use the notes, not just move your fingers in a scale shape and hope for the best.

What I would suggest is training your ears. Learn the sound of the notes in the minor and major scales. That way when you want to play a solo, you don't need to pick a scale and hope for good sounding music to come out of it. Just think in sound and play what you hear (of course that's easier said than done). Even if you can't do that perfectly, it's still important to know what kind of sound a certain scale has.

Learning about scale construction helps - that makes you see how the different scales differ from each other and understanding the differences in sound become easier. Major and minor are the most important scales and you can do a lot of stuff by just using those two and mixing them (if you mix them, you already have 10 of the 12 notes).
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at May 6, 2016,
#10
TS - can you set out the exact notes that make up your "F major dorian" scale?
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#11
Quote by Pearl Jammer#1
Hello friends,

I am not very experienced with music theory and modes, but I've had some free time lately so I've been doing some practicing. I am a little confused as to whether the dorian scale can be played in a major key (played over a major chord progression). I was jamming to the chords during the solo from the song Soul to Squeeze by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and noticed that Dorian gave a nice sound. This confuses me because that portion of the song I believe is in F major. So I was playing in F major dorian (not sure if thats the way to describe it). I didn't think dorian could be played over a major progression. I'm not sure exactly how Frusciante's solo goes and I'm to lazy to go figure it out, but I'm not sure if his solo is in Dorian. So would it be right in saying that it is possible to play any mode over a major chord progression as long as the sounds are not too dissonant? I believe this is what jazz gets into but again I'm not experienced.

Thanks!
PJ
Your confusion is probably about terminology. Which dorian mode did you play that gave a "nice sound"?
If it was G dorian mode, and the song is in F major, then you were simply playing the F major scale. Thinking of it as G dorian mode (even if you "start" on G) makes no difference. The pattern you choose to play makes no difference - it's all the same 7 notes.
Likewise, if the song is in D minor, playing the "F major scale" simply means you are playing "in D minor".
That's because the tonality of the song (the overall key of the chord sequence) governs the sound, and which note should properly be called the keynote - and therefore what the sensible name is for the scale.
I.e., if the key is F, then the scale should be called "F something".
This applies to all "relative" modes of the scale (the same 7 notes in any order).

Where it gets more interesting is the notion of "parallel" modes or scales.

So, in a piece in F major, what would happen if you played F dorian mode? You would be introducing a b3 and b7. "Wrong notes" in one sense, but you'll find it produces a kind of "blues" sound.
Then again, you need to be careful depending on what the chords are - those "wrong notes" won't sound bluesy on all the chords; sometimes they'll just sound "wrong".
In general, the best advice is to know the chords. Not just the chord sequence of the song, but how to play those chords in many different places on the guitar. The chords all interlock to form the scale. They give you the notes you need. (You can still add "chromatics", outside notes, if you want something jazzier or bluesier, but you start from what the chords give you.)

The point is that just because a song is "in F major" doesn't mean all the chords will come from that scale. It's very common to have "borrowed" chords, or "secondary" chords of various kinds. So if you go for the scale first, you'll hit problems when those chords turn up. But if you go by the chords first, work with the notes in the chords, then you can't go wrong.
But then (as I say) that does depend on knowing your chords well enough!

(BTW, the RHCP song does sound totally diatonic to F major, with a fairly clear F tonic. The chords are somewhat ambiguous in terms of the key centre, but the vocal melody resolves to F most of the time.)

EDIT: corrected stupid typo .
Last edited by jongtr at May 8, 2016,
#12
You need have to have a good fundamental understanding of how the major scale works, and how it relates to the key and tonal centre before you can even hope of understanding modes. Dorian is the 2Nd mode of the major scale, in this case G Dorian. Unless your chord progression suggests a G tonal centre (the note that sounds like home) it doesn't matter how you play that scale, it'll just sound like Fmajor. Modes aren't something we play, they're something we hear.

Either that or your saying you're playing the parallel Dorian, meaning your tonal centre remains the same (F) but your changing the notes of the scale (for Dorian, you're flattening the 3rd and 7th). This is risky business if you don't know what you're doing, as unless your chord progression too suggests a Dorian sound, it can very easily clash. If you do it tastefully, it could result in a cool bluesy sound.
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Last edited by Jimjambanx at May 7, 2016,
#13
Quote by Jimjambanx at #33960631
(for Dorian, you're flattening the 3rd and 7th).
ftfy
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lots of flirting with the other key without confirming. JUST LIKE THEIR LOVE IN THE MOVIE OH DAMN.
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you're acting like you have perfect pitch or something
#14
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ftfy

oops, my bad. Fixed now.
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#15
Sorry folks I was actually playing in F mixolydian. I shall take all of your advice in better structuring my theory learning. Thanks!
#16
Quote by Pearl Jammer#1
Sorry folks I was actually playing in F mixolydian. I shall take all of your advice in better structuring my theory learning. Thanks!

As I'm sure you appreciate, what you play only has to sound good.
But when you talk about it (or ask questions about it) - especially if we can't hear what you're playing - you need to have the terminology correct, because things get confusing otherwise.

In this case, the song is in F major, so playing F mixolydian means you're lowering the 7th degree. That could well sound OK, because it's adding a bluesy element. The lead guitar in the solo is pretty much sticking to F major pent (with plenty of sliding), so an added Eb is probably not going to sound too out of place. (Even on the C chord, the Eb will work as a bluesy b3.)

IMO your main problem is summed up in your original post: "I'm not sure exactly how Frusciante's solo goes and I'm to lazy to go figure it out". This is a very simple solo, which ought to be easy to figure out. (I got the gist of it from one listen, playing along at full speed - not the details, but the main notes and concept.) If you have any desire to be a lead guitar player, you should be keen to figure out solos way more complicated than this. You certainly won't learn anything more useful from studying theory, or from asking questions on internet forums.
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Last edited by jongtr at May 10, 2016,