Dm Chord on the Guitar (D Minor) – 10 Ways to Play (and Some Tips/Theory)

The D minor chord is a very popular guitar chord. The open Dm chord is one of the main chords that most guitarist learn early on in their chord development.

D minor is the relative minor of F Major. Since F Major (and the chord F) is a popular key, D minor is commonly used.

Some Quick Dm Chord Theory

  • The D minor chord contains the notes D, F and A.
  • The D minor chord is produced by playing the 1st (root), flat 3rd and 5th notes of the D Major scale.
  • The D minor chord (just like all minor chords) contains the following intervals (from the root note): minor 3rd, Major 3rd, Perfect 4th (back to the root note).
  • D minor is the relative minor of F Major.
  • Dm is the first chord in the key of D minor. The seven chords in the key of D minor are: Dm, E diminished, F+, Gm, A, Bb, C# diminished

10 Ways To Play The D Minor Chord

If you’ve come to this page just to view some chord diagrams for Dm, here they are.

D Minor Chord - 10 Shapes

Standard Dm Chord Shape

The standard way to play the D minor chord is in the open position, as shown below. This shape is part of a group of common open chords that most guitarists start off learning. The D minor chord is also found in commonly used keys on the guitar (such as C and F), so the chord itself gets used quite often on the guitar.

Dm Chord Guitar

Easy Dm Chord Shape

The shape above is also the ‘easy’ version of the chord, as it uses only three fingers and does not involve any barring. There are other easy ways of playing the chord (such as triads), but the above shape is usually the first version of D minor that most guitarists learn.

How to Play the Dm Chord (Step by Step)

  • Place your second finger on the second fret of the third string.
  • Place your third finger on the third fret of the second string.
  • Place your first finger on the first fret of the first string.
  • Strum the first four strings of the guitar.

The instructions above are step by step instructions for playing the common D minor chord shape. Forming the chord through step by step instructions is a great way of ensuring that you are interpreting the chord diagram correctly.

D Minor Barre Chord Shapes

The D chord can be played as a barre chord by playing a root 6 barre chord shape and starting on the 10th fret or by playing a root 5 barre chord Major shape and starting on the 5th fret:

Dm Barre Chord

D Minor Triads

Playing triads is a great way of exploring the minor chord and the guitar fretboard more generally. By arranging the notes of the chord systematically using permutations (root position, first inversion, second inversion), interesting and unique shapes and voicings are created. The three different voicings for the D minor triad are:

  • D minor Triad (Root Position) – D, F, A
  • D minor Triad (1st Inversion) – F, A, D
  • D minor Triad (2nd Inversion) – A, D, F

By playing these triads on two different groups of three strings, we can produce six different shapes.

D Minor Triad

Which Keys Have The Dm chord in Them?

The Dm chord can be found in the following keys:

  • The key of D minor (Dm, Edim, F, Gm, Am, Bb, C)
  • The key of G minor (Gm, Adim, Bb, Cm, Dm, Eb, F)
  • The key of A minor (Am, Bdim, C, Dm, Em, F, G)
  • The key of F Major (F, Gm, Am, Bb, C, Dm, Edim)
  • The key of Bb Major (Bb, Cm, Dm, Eb, F, Gm, Adim)
  • The key of C Major (C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim)

Alternative But Useful Dm Chord Shapes

The following shapes are alternative ways of playing the D minor chord shape. They’re not the most common Dm shapes, but used enough to include here as interesting alternatives.

Alterative D Minor Chords Guitar

Dm Chord Substitutions

Most D minor chords with extensions can be used as a substitute for the D minor chord. For example, Dm9, Dm11 and Dm6 can often be used to add colour and emotion to the D minor chord.

The Dm7 chord is quite often used interchangeably with the Dm chord.

For more interesting substitutions, playing variations of the F chord (which is the relative Major of D minor), such as D6, D69, Dmaj9 etc. can be used effectively as a substitute for the D minor chord.

Which Scales Can Be Played Over the D Minor Chord?

The most common and effective scales that can be used to solo/improvise over the D minor chord, or to create melodies for the purposes of song writing are:

  • D natural minor scale – This scale (also called D aeolian) is the most commonly used scale for this chord.
  • D minor pentatonic scale – This is probably the easiest scale to learn and get started on when improvising over the D minor chord..
  • D minor blues scale – This scale can be used over the Dm chord to add a Blues flavour.     
  • D dorian mode – This scale can be used to add a slightly brighter sound to the D minor chord.
  • D phrygian mode – This scale can be used to add a darker sound to the D minor chord.

Further Reading

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