The Dorian b5 mode - Guitar Diagrams and Theory

What's the Dorian b5 mode?

The Dorian b5 scale is the second mode of the harmonic major scale. This is a minor scale built with root (1), second (2), minor third (b3), fourth (4), diminished fifth (b5), sixth (6) and minor seventh (b7).

You can see it as the Dorian mode with a b5. It should not be confused with the second mode of the harmonic minor scale named Locrian 13 that contains a b2. The Dorian b5 mode can be used over any half-diminished chord in a minor II-V-I sequence for example.

D Dorian b5 mode D E F G Ab B C
Formula 1 2 (9) b3 4 (11) b5 6 (13) b7
Intervals W H W H W+H H W


Dorian b5 scale


Comparison with the Dorian mode

The chart below show you the difference between the Dorian b5 mode and the Dorian mode, which is the second mode of the major scale and the most used when improvising over minor chords.

D Dorian b5 mode D E F G Ab B C
Formula 1 2 (9) b3 4 (11) b5 6 (13) b7
D Dorian mode D E F G A B C
Formula 1 2 (9) b3 4 (11) 5 6 (13) b7

Comparison with the Locrian 13 mode

The Locrian 13 mode is the second mode of the harmonic minor scale. It has a b2 instead of a natural 2.

D Dorian b5 mode D E F G Ab B C
Formula 1 2 (9) b3 4 (11) b5 6 (13) b7
D Locrian 13 mode D Eb F G Ab B C
Formula 1 b2 (9) b3 4 (11) b5 6 (13) b7

Triads built from the Dorian b5 mode

The Dorian b5 mode brings four types of triads :

  • Two major triads
  • Two minor triads
  • One augmented triad 
  • Two diminished triads .

Exemple with the D Dorian b5 mode :

  • Gmaj (G-B-D)
  • Cmaj (C-E-G)
  • Em (E-G-B)
  • Fm (F-Ab-C)
  • Abaug (Ab-C-E)
  • Ddim (D-F-Ab)
  • Bbdim (Bb-D-F)

Seventh chords built from the Dorian b5 mode

When stacking thirds on each degree of the Dorian b5 mode we obtain these chords.   

  • i m7b5 (9, 11, 13) 
  • ii m7  (b9, b11, b13) 
  • iii minMaj7 (9, #11, 13) 
  • IV7 (b9, 11, 13)  
  • V maj#5 (#9, #11, 13)
  • VI dim7 (b9, 11, b13) 
  • VII maj7 (9, 11, b13)

Chords of the dorian b5 mode

Dorian b5 guitar diagrams

Here are two main positions to play the Dorian b5 mode on guitar.

Dorian b5 mode

D dorian b5 mode 2

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Last edited: 01/05/2020