How to Play a D7 Chord on the Piano

The D7 chord, or to give its full name, the D Dominant 7th chord, is a variation on the regular D chord.

This means it has the same root position as D Major (the ‘happy-sounding’ D chord), which as you have probably guessed, is the note ‘D’ [1].

But while it’s based on the D Major chord, we add an extra note into the mix to change the sound up a little.

Best of all, for those who already know how to play the D Major chord, there’s only one extra note to remember. So it’s not too complicated to pick up.

Who Uses the D7 Chord?

The D7 chord, and other Dominant 7th chords, are popular with bands who take a step outside the ‘normal’ baseline of major/minor chords.

It still sounds pretty happy, but it opens up the chord with a brighter and more open sound.

We’re talking about groups like The Beach Boys (‘409’ being perhaps the most famous example), the Beatles (for example, ‘Hold Your Hand’), and The Red Hot Chili Peppers (‘Californication’ is one song where they use it) [2].

Once you’ve come to grips with D7, you might want to learn some of these songs on the piano or learn some other simple songs.

How to Play the D7 Chord

Construct the D Major Chord with your thumb on the D root, your first finger on F# and third finger on A. Play all three notes a few times so you get used to the sound of D.

Now place your pinky on C – that’s your fourth note which turns D Major into D7.

Play that a few times, and alternate between D Major and D7 to hear the difference.


When you’ve mastered D7, you might want to try constructing some ‘inversions’. These are different ways to play the same chord, which changes the way the chord sound and gives you more options when it comes to composing.

The D7/F# inversion, for example, uses F# as the bass note.

Play F# with your thumb, first finger on A#, third finger on C, and fourth finger on D (the root).

It’s the same chord, but it has a different ‘voice’.

What other ways can you find to construct the D7 chord with other bass notes?

Want to Learn More Piano Chords?

After you’ve mastered the D7 chord, you should learn a range of other chords. This gives you a ‘palette’ to choose from, much like a painter chooses his colors. And here is a guide for the c7 chord and a7 chord.

They’re quick and easy to learn on their own, and there are even useful apps that you can keep to hand to expand your knowledge.

However, over time you’ll need to build up your music theory so that you can figure out how to construct chords (like Dominant 7ths) in other keys – without looking them up.

When you’re able to do this, creating music and finding the right chords for the right situation becomes a lot easier.

Keep up with our blog for more chord, theory, and scale tips.

Stephanie Su

Started learning music when she was four years old, Stephanie is a music teacher and a music therapist who is highly proficient in Piano, Violin, Guitar, and Ukulele. She likes to learn, teach, and share her music playing experiences.

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