What to Know About the D Minor Chord
Chords are the building blocks of music. Only one note at a time will give you a beautiful melody, but using chords fills it in and makes a simple melody a song.
There are a lot of chords to learn. But once you learn the basic ones, you can start creating beautiful music on your chosen instrument.
Ready to learn the d minor chord? What notes do you need to know? Where do you find it on a keyboard? When would you use it? Do you know any songs that employ it?
The D Minor Chord
The basic d minor chord is a triad built on the d minor scale. Wait, what’s a triad and what does it mean to build it on a scale?
You may have noticed the little word “tri” in there. Triad is a fancy musical term for a chord made up of three notes. You find the three notes for the d minor chord by using the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes in the d minor natural scale.
What are those notes?
Let’s look at the d minor scale real quick to find out. The d minor natural scale, like all scales, is made up of 7 notes. They are D, E, F, G, A, Bb, and C.
Thus, the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of d minor are D, F, and A. Those are the notes of the d minor chord.
You may know that there are three types of minor scales, the natural, harmonic, and melodic . In the harmonic and melodic scales, some notes are altered slightly to give the scale a slightly different sound. This doesn’t affect the d minor chord as those changes occur on the 6th and 7th notes.
The D Minor Seventh Chord
To add variety to the sound of their music, composers also incorporate the d minor seventh chord into their pieces. This chord simply adds the 7th note as well as the 1st, 3rd, and 5th.
In this case, the notes are D, F, A, and C.
Where to Find It On the Keyboard
Now that you know which notes you need to make the d minor chord, where do you find it on the keyboard? Let’s take a look.
When you look at a keyboard, you’ll notice that the keys form a repeating pattern. There are groupings of 3 and 4 white keys and groupings of 2 and 3 black keys.
As you probably already know, C is the leftmost key in the grouping of 3 white keys. The white keys continue in the order of the alphabet (C, D, E, F, G, A, B) and then the pattern repeats itself. The black keys are sharps and flats depending on whether you’re ascending or descending.
To play a d minor chord, you simply need to find D, F, and A. Voila! That was easy! To form the d minor seventh chord, you simply add C.
You can play d minor as we just explained with D, F, and A in order. But if that’s all you do, your music can start to sound a little bland.
So composers use inversions to spice things up a bit. To invert a chord, you simply play the same notes but in a different order. For example, you can start the chord on F and play F, A, D for 1st inversion.
Instead of the standard third between each note in the chord, you’ll have a third and a fourth. This creates a slightly different sound even though you’re playing the same notes.
You can also play 2nd inversion and start the chord on A. You’d then play A, D, F.
You can play around even more with the sound by using both hands and separating the notes. For example, you can play D and A in the bass with your left hand to complement your octave on F in the right. Or play a full 1st inversion (F, A, D) with the left and fill it in with a 2nd inversion (A, D, F) with the right.
Try it and see which sounds you like best!
When to Use the D Minor Chord
Minor keys, in general, carry a feeling of sadness, loss, or even depression. That makes them perfect for poignant pieces that are full of strong, melancholy emotion.
D minor, in particular, historically has been considered the saddest of all keys. Composers frequently use this key and chord for dirges and other lamenting type songs.
Classically, it has been referred to as a melancholy key and related to the humor’s brood. If you’re wondering what on earth the humors brood is, you’re not alone.
Classical thought going back to Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, and other great thinkers incorporates the idea of the four humors . Each humor has a different effect on the function of the body both physically and emotionally.
The brood humor, unsurprisingly, is the one related to melancholia and sadness.
Major Works in D Minor
You may be curious what the deeply emotional d minor sounds like. It may surprise you, but there are probably a few songs that you already know that are in d minor! Some popular songs include:
- Scarborough Fair
- Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus
- Part of Me by Katy Perry
Of course, there are plenty of classical pieces that the great composers have written in d minor as well. A few of them are:
- Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from the Nutcracker
- Brahm’s Hungarian Dance No.5
- Tchaikovsky’s October – Autumn Song from The Seasons
- Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Flight of the Bumblebee
- Bach’s Bach Six Little Prelude no2. BWV940
- Bach’s Andante – Third movement from Sonata in D minor
This is just a tiny sampling of the vast array of music that uses d minor chords to set the mood.
Time to Practice!
Once you have mastered the d minor chord a whole new musical world opens up for you. You can enjoy playing melancholic pieces full of deep emotion and express your own emotions on your chosen instrument.
Start practicing today to add this versatile chord to your repertoire!