The E Flat Dorian Scale on Saxophone has these notes:
- E♭ – F – G♭ – A♭ – B♭ – B – D♭ – E♭
It follows a specific pattern of whole and half steps like this:
- Start on E♭ (the root)
- Whole step to F
- Half step to G♭
- Whole step to A♭
- Whole step to B♭
- Whole step to B
- Half step to D♭
- Whole step back to E♭
The E♭ Dorian Scale is based off the D♭ Major Scale, starting from the 2nd mode of the Major Scale, also referred to as the Dorian Mode.
The D# Dorian Scale sounds exactly the same and uses the same notes as in E♭ Dorian. However, from a music theory standpoint, they are notated differently.
The D♯ Dorian Scale on Saxophone has these notes: D♯ – E♯ – F♯ – G♯ – A♯ – B♯ – C♯ – D♯.
So, to clarify, the exercises I've put together below applies both to E♭ Dorian and D# Dorian on saxophone. And just as with the Major Scales, there are a total of 12 Dorian Scales on Saxophone.
Basic exercises for E♭ Dorian Scale on Saxophone
The first basic pattern to learning the D Sharp 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 in E♭ Dorian:
- E♭ – F – G♭ – A♭ – B♭ – C♭ – D♭ – E♭
The second basic pattern is to extend the E♭ Dorian Scale from the root, to the octave and back to the root.
Here's the 2nd sequence in E♭ Dorian:
- E♭ – F – G♭ – A♭ – B♭ – C♭ – D♭ – E♭ – D♭ – C♭ – B♭ – A♭ – G♭ – F – E♭
The third pattern for E flat 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 looks like this:
- 1 – 3 – 2 – 4 – 3 – 5 – 4 – 6 – 5 – 7 – 6 – 8 -7 – 9 – 8
In the context of E♭ Dorian, here's the 3rd sequence:
- E♭ – G♭ – F – A♭ – G♭ – B♭ – A♭ – C♭ – B♭ – D♭ – C♭ – E♭ – D♭ – E♭
Please note that in the E♭ Dorian scale, the note “C♭” is used instead of “B”. This is because each letter in the musical alphabet should only appear once in the scale, maintaining the integrity of musical notation.
E♭ 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 E♭ Dorian scale (E♭ – G – B♭) to form the basic triads.
The exercise progresses through these triads in ascending and then descending order:
- Start with the root position of the E♭ Dorian triad: E♭ – G – B♭
- Play this triad ascending, then descending: E♭ – G – B♭ – G – E♭
- Move to the first inversion, starting on G: G – B♭ – E♭
- Play this inversion ascending, then descending: G – B♭ – E♭ – B♭ – G
- Move to the second inversion, starting on B♭: B♭ – E♭ – G
- Play this inversion ascending, then descending: B♭ – E♭ – G – E♭ – B♭
- Repeat the exercise, but now in a descending and then ascending order.
- End the exercise by playing the root position triad once more: E♭ – G – B♭
This exercise helps you to get used to the sound and fingerings of the E♭ Dorian mode triads on your sax.
That's why I recommend that you focus a part of your practice session solely on the Dorian Scale. Do that for a week and you will see great improvements both in your technique and sound. Guaranteed!