Aeolian and Dorian comparison

The Aeolian mode compared to the Dorian mode with diagrams and explanation.
The Aeolian and the Dorian modes are seven-note scales. The scales are closed related, they are both minor sounding with a minor 3rd and only one tone differs (as seen in the comparing tables below).

A Aeolian scale degrees and notes.

1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7

A Dorian scale degrees and notes.

1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7
A B C D E F# G

Scale diagrams

The scale diagrams show A Aeolian and A Dorian (shape 1) in two octaves.

A Aeolian

A Aeolian scale diagram

A Dorian

A Dorian scale diagram

Graphic comparison

The scale diagram shows Aeolian and Dorian modes merged (the added Dorian notes in light green).

Aeolian and Dorian modes merged diagram

Backing track

Since the Aeolian and the Dorian are quite alike, you can smoothly switch between these scales in solo playing. The main concept is to choose scale depending of the chord you solo over. Try this by playing over the track below. The song is in 4/4 time, 120 bpm and concludes 32 bars playing 2 times. Play A Aeolian over the first 4 bars, the A Dorian over the next 4 bars and so on for the complete song.

Jam Track

Tempo (120 BPM)