The D minor 7 chord (often written as Dm7) is similar in sound and feeling to its root Dm chord - but with a kick. The seventh interval woven into its framework positions the Dm7 chord as almost asking a question of the listener, giving them a sense of the unknown and unanswered.
As a chord, Dm7 delivers a sense of melancholy and worry. Its serious sound gives is a vibe of apprehension and contemplation, making it a perfect chord to incorporate within a progression of blues chords.
Let’s take a look at a few ways to play the Dm7 chord, as well as some songs that make use of it.
What Notes Make Up the Dm7 Chord?
The Dm7 chord is comprised of the same three chords that make up the D minor chord (D, F, and A) with the addition of the seventh interval - the C note - to create its distinct sound.
When playing the Dm7 chord, you’ll blend the following four notes:
D, F, A and C
Playing the Dm7 Chord
There are multiple ways to play the Dm7 chord, but we’re going to explore two of the most popular ways to play it: the Dm7 open position, which has a lower-sounding tone and is relatively easy to play, and the Dm7 10th position, which takes us further down the fretboard for a higher-pitched sounding rendition of the chord.
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Playing Dm7 in the Open Position
The more common Dm7 chord is the open position, so let’s start with mastering that before moving into the Dm7 10th position. To play the Dm7 open position, start by placing your index finger finger on the 1st fret of the B string and the 1st fret of the high E string. Next, place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the G string. Strum four strings down from the D string down.
See how it looks here:
Index finger: 1st fret of the B (2nd) string
Index finger: 1st fret of the E (1st) string
Middle finger: 2nd fret of the G (3rd) string
Strum four strings down from the D string
Playing Dm7 in the 10th Position
Once you’ve had a chance to practice and master the open position, you can move on to learn the Dm7 10th position. To play this version of the chord, barre your index finger across the 10th fret of all six strings. Next, place your ring finger on the 12th fret of the A string and strum all six string down from the low E string.
It looks like this:
Index finger: 10th fret of the low E (6th) string
Index finger: 10th fret of the D (4th) string
Index finger: 10th fret of the G (3rd) string
Index finger: 10th fret of the B (2nd) string
Index finger: 10th fret of the E (1st) string
Ring finger: 12th fret of the A (5th) string
Strum six strings down from the low E string
Songs that Use the Dm7 Chord
The Dm7 is a versatile chord that lends an accent to songs spanning a wide range of genres. Even though it’s a minor chord with a seventh interval, it doesn’t sound as gloomy as many of its minor chord counterparts. Rather, it’s that seventh that gives it a lilting, quizzical sound.
Listen for it in cheer pop confections, lowdown funk and - especially - bluesy grooves.
The Supremes “Baby Love” is a classic Motown track that’s as catchy as they come. Released in 1964, the song still stands the test of time, blending vocal harmonies with an almost symphonic arrangement. The Dm7 chord helps create an intriguing juxtaposition between the melody and the rhythm thanks in part to an interesting blend of chords and strong brass accompaniment.
The Dm7 chord makes a surprise appearance in Ripple’s “I Don’t Know What It Is, But It Sure Is Funky” in its higher-end barre chord (10th position) incarnation. This bouncy track delivers vintage funk with a slick bassline and horn accompaniment. Just try to listen and not catch yourself singing, “Oh-la-oh-la-ehhhh.”
The Dm7 chord is a staple of blues songs - old and new.
The beat starts out like a heartbeat and grows into a masterpiece that works in the Dm7 chord to create musical tension to match the intensity of the song’s lyrics. Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues” puts his full vocal prowess on display as that bassline goes to work in the background. Written in 1971, the song remains relevant to this day with Marvin Gaye expounding upon societal problems that still remain the same nearly five decades later.
From one legend to another, Robert Cray’s blues-laden track “Phone Booth” delivers melancholy and contemplation perfectly. If calling a random number etched in a phone booth while you’re broke and cold doesn’t capture the sentiment behind the Dm7 chord, then nothing does.
From old school blues icons to present-day voices, even the melancholy nature of the Dm7 can’t stop the love-struck feeling of Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are.” The up-tempo verses come to a screeching halt by the power and progression of the chorus and its positive message.
Start playing songs that speak to your soul.
If you'd like to learn how to play even more chords, browse Fender Play's chord library, learn about chord types, and find tips on how to master them.
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