Transform Your Boring Pentatonic Bass Fills With This Simple ‘Dorian’ Hack

2018-11-11T10:00:19+00:00May 18th, 2018|Categories: Bass Scales & Arpeggios|8 Comments

This week we’re looking at how you can easily incorporate the Dorian scale/mode into your playing using a scale you already probably know really well: The Minor Pentatonic scale

The Good Ol’ Minor Pentatonic Scale!

OK, so most of you probably know a minor pentatonic scale. I’ve covered in loads of other lessons and it’s pretty much THE go to rock scale.

If you don’t know that scale here are a few lessons here on Talkingbass you can use for study.

You can use it over minor chords and minor keys and you get instant cool riffs and fills. So if you don’t know it, learn it.

The Dorian Scale!

The Dorian scale is the second mode of the major scale. So if we’re in C major and we play from D to D. The second note. That’s a Dorian scale:

  • C Major Scale: C D E F G A B
  • D Dorian Scale: D E F G A B C

I’m not going to get into the theory of modes here because I want to focus on straight application so I’ll get straight into the big tip I’ve got for you:

All you have to do to incorporate a Dorian scale into your playing is use the Minor Pentatonic scale (like you always would) but add two extra notes in there: the Major Second and the Major Sixth.

That’s it. A Dorian scale is just a Minor Pentatonic scale with those 2 additional notes.

Let’s Compare Those Scales

So let’s look at a C Minor Pentatonic scale starting at the 8th fret of the E string:

Now all we have to do is add those two extra notes. The D and the A:

Let’s Practice!

We can practice applying this Dorian scale by simply adding either of those two notes into our Minor Pentatonic riffs and fills. Don’t worry about playing scales up and down. That’s not how we make music. You want to know the actual sound and feel of those two notes in isolation. You want to know how both a major 2nd and major 6th sound when placed in context.

So just as in the fills lessons I released recently, let’s take a basic riff and then add some fills in there that use the Dorian scale:

Basic Riff:

You can use the following backing track as your playalong:

Fill #1 (using the major 2nd)

Fill #2 (using the major 6th)

Fill #3 (using both notes)

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  1. Benjamin Lewis May 18, 2018 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    This is great, Mark! Can’t wait to start practicing!

  2. Paul May 18, 2018 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    Great lesson Mark excellent well thought out a must practice

  3. Wolfram Leiner May 18, 2018 at 5:09 pm - Reply

    Cool as always … thanks a lot Mark

  4. Alfred May 18, 2018 at 10:55 pm - Reply

    You are a bad ass dude on the bass. I love to borrow your head when I play the bass. Thanks Alfred

  5. Mr. V May 18, 2018 at 11:59 pm - Reply

    Hi Mark:
    Check this strap.

    I have one and it’s good to have for your beauty bass guitar.

    D’Addario Planet Waves 2″ Polypropylene Planet Lock Guitar Strap Black

    Let me know what you think.

    Sincerely, Mr. Villalba

  6. Pasha May 19, 2018 at 2:19 am - Reply

    I’ve been seeing some bass videos on the net, and suddenly there’s this video that’s left me stunned with its clarity and simplicity. its like walking barefoot on pebbles for a while and suddenly its smooth grass that your’e walking on. What a relief !! Please do it every week. Thanks zillions.

  7. joe romano May 19, 2018 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    Thank you Mark i love the way you teach and the way you play you motivate me and i am 70 years old and been playing since i am 14 years old

    Thank You

    Joe Romano

  8. Fernando Barao May 21, 2018 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    Hi Mark,
    I am an old beginner (if you can say it that way) and I always liked Bass. I will start to follow you more assiduously, because I like the way you teach. I’ll probably apply to one or more of your courses. About this last video in particular, it seemed accessible to me with some training. I’ve been practicing for a while and I’m almost happy with the result. 🙂
    Cheers, all the best

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