Alex Skolnick on combining the Dorian mode with the minor pentatonic

8th May 2008 | 10:59

Alex Skolnick on combining the Dorian mode with the minor pentatonic
Alex Skolnick on combining the Dorian mode with the minor pentatonic
After years as a heavy metaller in Testament, Alex Skolnick has turned his talents to jazz
Alex Skolnick on combining the Dorian mode with the minor pentatonic
Alex Skolnick on combining the Dorian mode with the minor pentatonic
Example 1: Play the minor pentatonic scale ascending, and the Dorian mode descending until you're familiar with the patterns.
Alex Skolnick on combining the Dorian mode with the minor pentatonic
Alex Skolnick on combining the Dorian mode with the minor pentatonic
Example 2: This simple line combines the two scales. See how Alex skips a lot of notes instead of playing straight up and down the scale. This really helps your playing sound more melodic.
Alex Skolnick on combining the Dorian mode with the minor pentatonic
Alex Skolnick on combining the Dorian mode with the minor pentatonic
Example 3: Alex plays with a swing feel to sound jazzier. He also really hangs on the C# to bring out the Dorian sound. The melody moves around unexpectedly, so be careful your fingers don't trip over each other.
Alex Skolnick on combining the Dorian mode with the minor pentatonic
Alex Skolnick on combining the Dorian mode with the minor pentatonic
Example 4: This example is a variation: up the Dorian mode, down the minor pentatonic. If this is too much of a stretch, try playing the C# on the 4th string on the 11th fret. Remember this is an exercise, so it sounds pretty boring as a lick.

The Testament and jazz guitarist shows you how to add some modal flavour to your playing

Alex Skolnick is known for his jazz trio these days, but he started out as the fret-melting guitarist for Bay Area thrash legends Testament. Whether you want to make your rock playing stand out or want to venture into the world of jazz, Alex’s ideas can help you out.

In this video lesson, Alex shows you how to add modal notes to the E minor pentatonic scale.

Modes can be intimidating if you’ve never used them before, but Alex makes the Dorian mode a lot less daunting by relating it to the more friendly E minor pentatonic scale – there are just two extra notes to add. By mixing up the E Dorian and the E minor pentatonic scales, you’ve got a new set of tonal colours to play with and you’re still covering familiar ground.

Play through the scales as an exercise first (notated in our free tab) then start messing around and finding your own ideas. There’s more information on Alex at the official Alex Skolnick website.

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