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The musical world is full of varied instruments, each with distinct styles. Among them, the handpan stands out for its versatile sound and relatively recent emergence in the music scene.

This pan instrument, capable of harmonizing with a multitude of sounds, offers different scales, each with its unique imprint and history. The Dorian handpan scale, created with passion, captivates music lovers seeking authentic and profound experiences.

This scale is a favorite for musical exploration and creating soothing meditation songs on pan drums. Explore the beauty and depth of the Dorian scale with our high-quality handpans at Zena-Drum.

Also read: The Annaziska or Kurd handpan scale

1. Key Features of the Dorian Handpan Scale

Handpan makers have different approaches to sound, resulting in a variety of musical scales. The Dorian mode is undoubtedly one of the most promising scales due to its several advantages.

Order a Dorian handpan now and enjoy the beautiful melodies of the Dorian scale.

a. Perfect Tuning

A notable feature of the Dorian scale on the hanging drum is its tuning. One of the preferred scales for this handpan model is C minor: C - Eb - F - G - Ab - Bb - C - D. Regardless of the model, the Dorian scale is classified among mysterious music genres.

b. An Easy Instrument for Beginners

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Belonging to the percussion family, the Dorian hung drum is entirely intuitive. It can be played by anyone, from beginners to professionals. No prior musical knowledge is needed to master the Dorian scale. Crafted with great care, this type of handpan can be played with specialized sticks or simply with the hands.

Discover this easy-to-play instrument and let its harmonious sounds guide you. Visit our collection and find the pan drum that will allow you to express your creativity today!

c. High-Quality Finish

For the Dorian model, makers use a tuning concept based on 9 notes ((E3), B, C#, D, E, F#, G, A, B). There is also a 10-note variant ((E3), B, C#, D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#). Regardless of the model, the handpan offers exceptional sustain, harmonic richness, and beat. Additionally, it has an excellent aesthetic appeal. The Dorian scale handpan is a pleasure for both the ears and the eyes.

d. A Relaxing Melody

Music produced with this instrument is always beautiful. Players often get carried away by the soft melody of the Dorian scale. The sound of the steel hang drum tends to relax anyone who listens. After a stressful workday, you can unwind by playing music on your steel hand drum. You will soon feel relaxed. When choosing a handpan scale, consider the emotions you wish to evoke.

Discover the scales that correspond to most emotions.

2. Fundamentals of the Dorian Mode

a. Structure and Construction

The Dorian mode, a jewel of diatonic music, is based on a unique octave structure built on two tetrachords—groups of four notes.

This unique construction creates a rich and textured sound distinct from other modes. The tetrachords, separated by a whole tone, shape the sound landscape of the Dorian mode, providing a solid foundation for deep and nuanced musical compositions.

This structured approach gives the Dorian mode exceptional versatility, capable of adapting to various musical genres while maintaining a distinct sound identity.

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b. Comparison with Other Modes

The Dorian mode stands out with its unique features, especially compared to other modes like the Phrygian. On the piano, the Dorian mode appears in the ascending note sequence from D to D, with slight variations in the sequence of whole and half tones.

This distinction makes it unique from the Phrygian mode and gives it a particular sound appreciated in playing handpans and other diatonic instruments. The Dorian mode invites musical exploration, offering a familiar yet exotic soundscape.

Explore the multiple facets of the hanging drum. Discover the different scales and modes and find the one that suits you. Visit our collection by clicking here and be captivated by the rich sound of our handpans.

3. Influence and Relaxation

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a. Inspiration and Influences

The modern Dorian mode, as applied on some steel hang drums, draws inspiration from various musical traditions, including Russian music. This pattern of tones and semi-tones creates a distinctive melodic path that deeply influences the mode's sound.

This sequence of notes, 1-½-1-1-1-½-1, enriches the sound palette of the handpan, allowing musicians to explore rich and varied melodic territories while remaining rooted in a deep and historical musical tradition.

b. Effects on Well-being

The symmetrical nature of the Dorian mode, where the sequence of tones and semi-tones is the same in ascent and descent, gives its sound a calming and relaxing quality. This near-mirror harmony between rising and falling tones makes Dorian mode compositions particularly suitable for relaxation and meditation.

Handpans tuned in the Dorian mode are highly sought after for their wellness benefits, offering a melodic escape that can calm the mind and invite introspection. The subtle difference in the seventh note, minor in the Dorian mode compared to the ascending melodic minor scale, further enriches this auditory experience, adding unique emotional depth to compositions.

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4. Nuances Between Modes: Keys to Handpan Composition

Characteristics Dorian Mode Phrygian Mode Melodic Minor Scale Ascending
Initial Interval Whole tone Half tone Whole tone
Second Interval Half tone Whole tone Half tone
Sound Character Balanced, melodic Dark, mysterious Soft, ascending
Use Versatile, relaxing Flamenco, ethnic music Jazz, classical
Characteristic Note Major 6th Minor 2nd Ascending major 7th
Effect on Listener Soothing, reflective Introspective, deep Elegant, emotionally rich


Ready to dive into the world of the Dorian scale? Compare scales, explore new sounds by clicking here, and find the handpan that resonates with you.

5. Buying a Dorian Handpan

At Zena-Drum, we offer the Dorian scale in various configurations. You can purchase your custom handpan by choosing the number of notes, color, and preferred frequency.

Once you purchase your hung drum, one of our artisans will carefully start crafting your instrument. You will receive it well-packaged within 10 business days.

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The Dorian handpan scale offers musicians a rich and versatile range, perfect for various compositions. Its unique structure and soothing effect make it a favorite for exploring instrumental music's depths.

Ideal for yogarelaxation, and wellness, the Dorian scale, especially at 432hz, enriches the handpan soundscape, evoking subtle emotions and creating a serene atmosphere for listeners.

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1. What key is a Dorian in?

The Dorian mode is typically in a minor key. For example, D Dorian starts on the note D and includes the notes D, E, F, G, A, B, and C. It’s known for its unique, slightly jazzy feel and is popular in both traditional and modern music.

2. What is the most popular handpan scale?

The most popular handpan scale is the D minor scale. This scale is favored for its versatility and soothing, melodic sound, making it ideal for various musical styles, from meditation to more dynamic compositions.

3. What are the scale degrees in Dorian mode?

The Dorian mode consists of the following scale degrees: 1 (tonic), 2 (supertonic), b3 (mediant), 4 (subdominant), 5 (dominant), 6 (submediant), and b7 (subtonic). This structure gives the Dorian mode its characteristic minor feel with a major sixth.

4. What key is a handpan in?

A handpan can be tuned to various keys, but common ones include D minor, C minor, and E minor. Each key provides a different tonal quality and emotional expression, allowing players to choose the best fit for their musical goals.

5. Where can I buy a quality handpan?

You can buy a quality handpan from specialized stores like Zena-Drum. Look for detailed descriptions, clear handpan characteristics, and customer reviews to make an informed purchase. Online platforms like Superprof also connect you with experienced makers.