“Silly me, when I move the Dorian mode over the root like C , Dorian is actually the key of Bb. I used to try to play the C major scale and zero in on the D notes but actually C Dorian has Bb and Eb in them. What an epiphany.”
Right. Dorian is the second mode based on the second degree of the major scale. So C Dorian would actually stem from the Bb major scale and revolve around the minor 2 chord (ii), C minor. But just because the notes stem from the Bb major scale doesn’t mean your root is Bb. In C Dorian the root is C. Everything is revolving around, moving to and resolving on C and the Cm chord.
In Fretboard Theory Chapter 10 Modes the song lists include the mode and then in parenthesis the parent major scale. For example, “Oye Como Va” is written A Dorian (G). G is the parent major scale, you use G major scale patterns and chords, but everything is revolving around the second degree, A, and the A minor chord.
If you want to understand and apply a mode correctly, then you must be able to back track and figure out what the correct major scale would be. Also, you must hear the scale over the root or root chord because the modal concept is about the sound that’s created when a major scale degree other than the first is functioning as the root. Try playing along to a recording of the song “Oye Como Va” by Santana using G major scale patterns. Be sure to emphasize the root A since it’s actually the root of the song.
To learn more about modes plus see and hear modal scales and song examples in action watch my DVD Guitar Modes – The Modal Scales of Popular Music.
To learn more about music theory for guitar, including scales, chords, progressions, modes, and more, sign up for a free preview of my Fretboard Theory books and DVDs by using the form on this web page.
Play Until Yer Fingers Bleed!
Mr. Desi Serna