A Flat Dorian Scale on Saxophone lesson. Step by step guide by Saxophone teacher

Play A Flat Dorian Scale on Saxophone

Written by Greger Hillman, Saxophone teacher and music educator

The A♭ Dorian Scale on Saxophone has these notes:

  • A♭ – B♭ – C♭ – D♭ – E♭ – F – G♭ – A♭
A Flat Dorian Scale on Saxophone explained with note names and on music staff. Easy to follow visual guide

It follows a specific pattern of whole and half steps like this:

  • Start on A♭ (the root)
  • Whole step to B♭
  • Half step to C♭
  • Whole step to D♭
  • Whole step to E♭
  • Whole step to F
  • Half step to G♭
  • Whole step back to A♭

Fun Fact:

The A♭ Dorian Scale is based off the G♭ Major Scale, starting from the 2nd mode of the Major Scale, also referred to as the Ionian Scale.

The A♭ Dorian Scale sounds the same and uses the same notes as G♯ Dorian. However, from a music theory standpoint, they are notated differently.

The A♭ Dorian Scale on Saxophone has these notes: A♭ – B♭ – C♭ – D♭ – E♭ – F – G♭ – A♭

So, to clarify, the exercises I've put together below apply both to A♭ and G♯ Dorian on your saxophone. And just as with the Major Scales, there are a total of 12 Dorian Scales on Saxophone.

Basic A♭ Dorian practice exercises on Saxophone

The first basic pattern to learning the A♭ Dorian Scale on Saxophone is to start on the root and play each note up to the octave. This will give you a good understanding of the “Dorian Sound” on your saxophone.

Here's the first sequence: A♭ – B♭ – C♭ – D♭ – E♭ – F – G♭ – A♭

The second basic pattern is to extend the A♭ Dorian Scale from the root, to the octave and back to the root.

Here's the 2nd sequence: A♭ – B♭ – C♭ – D♭ – E♭ – F – G♭ – A♭ – G♭ – F – E♭ – D♭ – C♭ – B♭ – A♭

The third pattern for A♭ Dorian is based on doing jumps from 1 to 3 back to 2, from 2 to 4 and back to 3 etc. This pattern continues all the way up to the 9th and ends on the octave.

The numeric pattern for the notes look like this: 1 – 3 – 2 – 4 – 3 – 5 – 4 – 6 – 5 – 7 – 6 – 8 – 7 – 9 – 8

In context of A♭ Dorian here's the 3rd sequence:

A♭ – C♭ – B♭ – D♭ – C♭ – E♭ – D♭ – F – E♭ – G♭ – F – A♭ – G♭ – A♭

A♭ Dorian Triad exercise on Saxophone

Moving beyond the basic patterns, the next step is to practice Dorian Triads. These triad intervals are great for developing your fingering technique on your saxophone as well as your musical understanding.

Triads are three-note chords, and in this exercise, you'll be using the root, third, and fifth notes from the A♭ Dorian scale (A♭ – C♭ – E♭) to form the basic triads.

The exercise progresses through these triads in ascending and then descending order:

  • Start with the root position of the A♭ Dorian triad: A♭ – C♭ – E♭
  • Play this triad ascending, then descending: A♭ – C♭ – E♭ – C♭ – A♭
  • Move to the first inversion, starting on C♭: C♭ – E♭ – A♭
  • Play this inversion ascending, then descending: C♭ – E♭ – A♭ – E♭ – C♭
  • Move to the second inversion, starting on E♭: E♭ – A♭ – C♭
  • Play this inversion ascending, then descending: E♭ – A♭ – C♭ – A♭ – E♭

Repeat the exercise, but now in a descending and then ascending order.

  • End the exercise by playing the root position triad once more: A♭ – C♭ – E♭

This exercise helps in familiarizing oneself with the sound and fingerings of the A♭ Dorian mode triads on your saxophone.

And as you will notice it does take some time getting used to the way the Dorian Triad intervals sound as they sound “different” than you are used to with the Major Scale Triads on your Saxophone.

More Saxophone Scales:

Saxophone teacher online Greger Hillman

Written by Greger Hillman

Greger Hillman is a saxophone teacher with +36 years of experience playing saxophone. 

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