How to Play a Dm Chord on a Piano

What do these three songs have in common: “Like A Prayer” by Madonna, “Crazy In Love” by Beyonce, and “Killing In The Name” by Rage Against The Machine?

All of these songs were written in the key of D minor (Dm).

While the key contains other chords, the D minor remains at its core.

Although it’s known for producing a sad or melancholic sound, Dm lends itself to a broad range of musical possibilities, as attested by the examples above.

So what is the Dm chord?

Read on, because today, we’re covering what makes up the D chord and how you can play it.

Are you ready? Let’s dive in.

How to Play a Dm Chord

Composers and songwriters refer to D minor in a few different ways. As we’ve mentioned, the chord is often written as Dm, Dmin, or D-. All of these references can be used interchangeably.

Dm Root Position

The Dm piano chord consists of the root note (D), a minor third (F), and the perfect fifth (A). Playing the chord in this order is known as the root position.

D minor is nearly the same as D major. Substitute the F# (F sharp) from the major chord by dropping a half step and playing F natural instead.

A Dm chord contains both a minor third and a major third. There are three half-steps between D and F, a minor third interval. From F to A is four half steps (2 whole steps), creating a major third interval.

Dm Chord Inversions

You can also play two inversions of the D minor chord.

In the first inversion, you begin with F, followed by A and then D. The D in this position is one octave higher on the keyboard than the root D. The F and A notes stay the same.

The second inversion starts with A, followed by D and then F. While the A remains the same, both the D and F are one octave higher on the piano.

Proper Fingering for the D Minor Chord

By now, you might be wondering: What fingers do I use to play this chord?

To play D minor in the root position, you will use fingers one (D), three (F) and five (A) on your right hand and five (D), three (F) and one (A) on your left hand.

In the first inversion, play with fingers one (F), two (A) and five (D) with your right hand. On your left hand, use fingers five (F), three (A) and one (D).

The second inversion incorporates fingers one (A), three (D) and five (F) of your right hand. Play with your five (A), three (D) and one (F) on your left hand.

D Minor Chord: Wrapping It Up

The Dm chord is extremely versatile, responsible for bringing us both Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 and The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations”.

As with any musical endeavor, practice makes perfect. The good news is it’s really fun to play a quality piano and it gets a little easier each time you practice.

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