Simplify Your Jazz and Funk Playing with the Power of Dorian Mode

Are you an aspiring jazz or funk guitarist looking to level up your playing? If so, I’ve got a simple yet powerful trick that will revolutionize the way you approach chords and chord sequences. Say hello to the magic of Dorian mode! In this blog post, we’ll delve into this concept and show you how to apply it to elevate your jazz and funk guitar game.

What is Dorian Mode and Why Does it Matter?

The Dorian mode is one of the seven modes derived from the major scale. It is characterized by a minor scale with a natural sixth. When applied to jazz and funk playing, using the Dorian mode of each key can make your improvisations and chord progressions smoother and more cohesive.

Let’s Break it Down: The Dorian Mode in Action

To better illustrate the concept, let’s consider the harmonized scale in the key of C major. The chords are as follows: C major 7, D minor 7, E minor 7, F major 7, G dominant 7, A minor 7, and B half-diminished.

Now, here comes the magic. Instead of dwelling on complex theories, concentrate on playing the Dorian phrase over each chord. For instance, when you encounter the D minor 7 chord, think D Dorian. When you encounter the G dominant 7 chord, think D Dorian. It’s as simple as that!

Infinite Improvisation: Connecting the Dots

To truly internalize this technique, practice what I like to call “infinite improvisation.” This exercise involves connecting short musical ideas or patterns together to create a seamless and continuous flow of music. Think of it as your canvas for spontaneous expression.

Start with small phrases, like a classic Dorian lick, and build upon them. Gradually add variations and combine different patterns to explore the full potential of the Dorian mode. Remember, this exercise is not about being overly creative; it’s about building your knowledge of the fretboard in the jazz and funk style.

Applying the Dorian Trick to Any Chord Progression

Once you’ve mastered the infinite improvisation exercise, you’ll be amazed at how effortlessly you can apply the Dorian trick to any chord progression. Whether it’s a classic jazz 1-6-2-5 progression or a funky 1-4-5 pattern, the Dorian mode will guide your way.

For instance, if you encounter a Bb7 chord (the 5th chord) in the key of C major, think F Dorian. If you find yourself playing an A minor chord (the 6th chord), think A Dorian. The possibilities are endless, and your guitar playing will soar to new heights.

Closing Thoughts

In conclusion, the Dorian mode is a valuable tool for jazz and funk guitarists seeking to simplify their playing and enhance their improvisational skills. By concentrating on the Dorian phrase of each key and mastering the infinite improvisation exercise, you’ll gain a deep understanding of the fretboard and unlock a world of musical possibilities.

So, start experimenting with the Dorian mode in your playing today. As you become more comfortable with it, you’ll find yourself effortlessly navigating complex chord progressions and unleashing your inner jazz and funk player. Happy playing!


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