Soloing with the Dorian Mode
The Dorian mode is a fun improvisational tool. In rock, it's great for one-chord jams. For example, if you're grooving out on a D minor seven, a D Dorian scale is perfect for soloing. FIGURE 8-5 shows some simple scalar explorations with the Dorian mode. When a D minor triad is paired with the D Dorian mode, you can't go wrong. In fact, this chord is “best friends” with the D Dorian mode. Various D minor inversions are used in this example to show you the simpatico between this scale and this chord.
When playing a melody over inverted chords, make sure that your hands don't collide. Often, novices find that their right hand is moving down the keyboard just as their left hand is traveling up the keyboard. The result is a tangled mess. The best way to avoid this is to be prepared to drop your left hand down to play bass notes when your right hand descends into the third and fourth octave ranges of the piano.
FIGURE 8-5: Using the Dorian Mode
Next, try something a little more musical. FIGURE 8-6 uses both arpeggios and other melodic devices to create a miniature D minor jam using the D Dorian mode.
FIGURE 8-6: D Minor Jam Using Dorian Mode
In this example, arpeggios are used on measures one, four, and, to a lesser degree, six. On these measures, you are playing tonic, mediant, and dominant intervals also known as scale degrees one, three, and five. As you learned in Chapter 6, in the key of D minor, scale degrees one, three, and five outline a D minor triad (D, F, and A).
In FIGURE 8-6, all of the other notes played in the right hand center around a D minor chord with extensions. For example, in measure five, a major nine interval (E) is stressed. Major nines always spice up minor chords nicely. Be careful when playing the left hand bass pattern on measures five through eight. You will want to play those perfect fifth intervals (D and A) softly and detached. Try your own improvisations using the D Dorian mode. It's an easy mode to manipulate since it uses only white keys.
Pianists generally play chords in their left hand and melodies or solos in their right hand. However, you don't always need to play this way. Switch it up by playing chords in your right hand while soloing in your left. This will help you develop equality between your hands. It will also encourage you to integrate your hands and fingers.