What to Know About D Major Chords
Songs in the key of D Major are quite popular. From Mozart’s violin concerto in D major to The Eagles’ Hotel California, the chords in the key of D major are pleasing to every ear .
It’s a good idea to be familiar with this key, since it’s so versatile and attractive. Keep reading to find out more about D major chords, and become an expert in how to use this key.
What is the Key of D Major?
To know about the chords in D major, we first need to be familiar with the D major scale. The notes of the D major scale are D, E, F#, G, A, B, and C#. All of the chords in the key of D major contain these seven notes.
These are written on your sheet music in both the treble and bass clefs. As with all scales and chord progressions, start by finding middle C on your piano keyboard. Then you can begin to play the scale.
Remember that the notes of each chord in D major are limited to the notes in this scale. All of your music in this key is contained within this scale. D major is a tonic chord, and the root, or starting note, is always the first note in this scale.
We will take a look at this key’s chord inversions a little later.
Triads and Four Note Chords
A triad chord consists of three notes, and a four note chord has four. Triads and four note chords will contain sevenths (this is a chord consisting of a triad plus a note forming an interval of a seventh above the root.) Seventh chords are usually dominant, with a major triad plus a minor seventh.
Triads in the key of D major are: D major, E minor, F# minor, G major, A major, B minor. You’ll also have C# diminished. As you can see, these chords are quite simple.
The four note chords are a bit more complicated. These consist of D major seventh, E minor seventh, F# minor seventh, G major seventh. A dominant seventh is followed by B minor seventh, and C# minor seventh flat five.
That last one sounds complicated, but don’t worry. It looks like this, written out:
That’s the same as C# diminished, when played.
Along with becoming familiar with all variations of sevenths, you should learn the Roman numerals used to indicate each chord’s position in D major. Roman numerals for major chords are capitalized, which is easy to remember.
Minor chords and diminished chords are represented by lower case Roman numerals.
I – D major, D major seventh. This is your root position chord. Now let’s look at all the inversions for the key of D major. Remember, lower case Roman numerals indicate a minor scale.
ii- E minor, E minor seventh
iii- F# minor, F# minor seventh
IV- G major, G major seventh
V- A major, A dominant seventh
vi- B minor, B minor seventh
vii?- C# diminished, C# diminished flat five
D Major Chords: On Your Piano
So what are all the notes played in each chord for D major? Let’s look at that more closely.
The root chord, D major, consists of: D, F#, A. D major seventh contains D, F#, A, C#.
The second inversion, chord ii, is E minor. This consists of E, G, B. E minor seventh is composed with E, G, B, D.
The third inversion, which is F sharp minor, is F#, A, C#. F# minor seventh contains the notes F#, A, C#, E.
The fourth chord, Chord IV, is G major. It’s composed of G, B, D. G major seventh contains G, B, D, F#.
The fifth chord is also major. Chord V is A major and is A, C#, E. The dominant seventh is A, C#, E, G.
Chord vii is B minor and contains B, D, F#. B minor seventh is B, D, F# and A.
The final inversion is Chord vii? which is C# diminished. C#, E, G make up this chord. C# minor flat five contains C#, E, G, and B.
Common Chord Progressions in D Major
Chord progressions in D major will sound very familiar to you, as we noted at the start of this guide. Some of the most common progressions are:
Chord I to Chord IV to Chord V (D, G, A)
Chord I to Chord vi to Chord V (D, Bm, G, A)
Chord ii to Chord V to Chord I (Em7, A7, Dmaj7)
Of course, if you’re composing your own piece of music within D major, you can have any chord progression that makes sense for your work’s overall theme. But these are the most common.
History of D Major Chords
Since music composed in the key of D major is so suitable to violin and orchestral works, it makes sense that many of the classical composers would create their music in this key.
Many compositions in the Baroque period were religious in nature, and D major was considered the “key of glory.” Trumpet concertos were especially regal, and one famous and historical piece is the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah .
Another instrument to easily learn the key of D major is the guitar.
D Major: A Key To Remember
We hope this guide has given you a solid foundation for learning some music theory. Learning each key and its chords shouldn’t be intimidating. D major chords just take some practice to master, with a little knowledge about what they are. And don’t forget about the C major chords and E major chords.