The Dorian b2 Mode - Lesson with Guitar Diagrams and music theory

Understanding the Dorian b2 scale

What's the Dorian b2 mode ?

The Dorian b2 scale, aka Dorian b9 is the second mode of the melodic minor scale. Like all the Dorian modes it is a minor family scale. The interval pattern is : Half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step, whole step giving the following formula : 1 - b2 (b9) - b3 - 4 (11) - 5 - 6 (13) - b7.  

The Dorian b2 scale is sometimes referred to as the Phrygian #6 scale because the formula is approximately the same as the Phrygian scale, the third mode of the melodic minor scale. Indeed, the Phrygian mode contains a minor sixth (b6) whereas the Dorian b2 has a major sixth (6). You can also think of this mode as the Dorian mode with a flattened second (or flattened ninth). 

The Dorian b9 mode is generally played over minor chords (m7, m11, m6) but can also be used over dominant 7 (sus4b9) chords (check out the example below)

D Dorian b2 mode D Eb F G A B C
Formula 1 b2 (b9) b3 4 (11) 5 6 (13) b7
Intervals H W W W W H W


What are the differences between the main Dorian modes

As it is shown in the chart below, there are several Dorian modes. It is important and useful not to confuse them.

  • The Dorian mode is the second mode of the major scale.
  • The Dorian #11 mode is the fourth mode of the harmonic minor scale.
  • The Dorian bebop scale belongs the Bebop scales family. It has eight notes.
Dorian b2 mode 1 b2 (b9) b3 X 4 (11) 5 6 (13) b7
Dorian mode 1 2 (9) b3 X 4 (11) 5 6 (13) b7
Dorian #11 mode 1 2 (9) b3 X #4 (#11) 5 6 (13) b7
Dorian bebop scale 1 2 b3 3 4 (11) 5 6 (13) b7


Dorian b2 guitar diagrams

How to play the Dorian b9 scale on the guitar

It is important to memorize the interval pattern and which jazz minor scale it comes from. For example, if we take the D dorian b2 mode (D-Eb-F-G-A-B-C) we can see it is the second degree of C minor melodic scale. This allows you to group similar scales together. The following neck diagrams show you how the Dorian b9 looks like this on the guitar fretboard.

Dorian b2 mode guitar diagram 1

Dorian b2 mode guitar diagram 2

Dorian b9 line - II V I sequence

The Dorian b9 mode can be used over the V of a II-V-I sequence to bring a little bit of tension to your line. This way you will highlight the b9, #9 and 11 of the dominant chord. As you can see in the example the G dorian b2 scale (G-Ab-Bb-C-D-E-F) is played over G7alt.

II-V-I sequence with Dorian and Dorian b2 modes

Dorian b2 lick II V I sequence


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Last edited: 10/22/2019