How to Play the D minor Chord on Ukulele
This minor chord is a major ukulele essential.
By Ben Nemeroff
This lesson will break down the notes that build a D minor chord on the ukulele (often styled “Dm”), the various ways to play it, and introduce you to songs that use the D minor chord.
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Lesson: How to Play a D Minor Chord
These three notes make up the D minor chord on ukulele:
This chord is built off of the D minor scale -- D, E, F, G, A, B♭, and C. This chord uses the first, minor third, and fifth notes of the scale, a formation called a minor triad formula. D, F, and A are all natural notes, notes without sharps or flats.
Don’t be surprised if you feel the D minor chord on ukulele sounds a bit sad. Historically, classical music composers felt that D minor was the most melancholy sounding of all the chords and keys.
There’s more than one way to play this weepy chord on your ukulele. Different versions of the same chord will require different finger positions, but the notes in each version will be the same. Let’s start learning and playing some of these version of the D minor chord on your ukulele.
How Do You Play a D Minor Chord on a Ukulele?
This next section will show you several ways to play the D minor chord on ukulele with chord charts and step-by-step instructions. These will both indicate where to place your fingers on the fretboard and which strings you’ll strum.
First things first: Learning the four open notes on ukulele, i.e. the notes each ukulele string should be tuned to. Memorizing these will help you learn to read the following chord charts:
- G = The fourth string
- C = The third string (lowest tone)
- E = The second string
- A = The first string (and highest-tone string)
Unlike the guitar, where strings are in a descending order, the lowest-toned string on a ukulele is actually the third string.
Next, we’ll review the notations and format of the chord charts. Each diagram will illustrate both ukulele fretboard and strings, with numbers indicating which finger you position on each fret, and an X or O to tell you which strings you will mute or keep open.
Memorize this key along with your open ukulele notes:
- O = A circle above the string means to play that string in an open position
- X = An “x” above the strings means you won’t play that string or mute it when playing
- 1 = Index finger
- 2 = Middle finger
- 3 = Ring finger
- 4 = Pinky finger
D Minor Chord on Ukulele: Dm Open Position (v1)
One of the easiest ways to play the Dm chord on a ukulele is in the open position. Start by placing your index finger (1) on the first fret of the E string, your middle finger (2) on the 2nd fret of the G string, and your ring finger (3) on the 2nd fret of the C string.
Index finger: 1st fret of the E string
Middle finger: 2nd fret of the G string
Ring finger: 2nd fret of the C string
Strum all four strings and you have your D minor open position chord!
D Minor Chord on Ukulele: Dm 5th Position (v1)
The second version of the Dm chord on ukulele we’ll learn begins on the 5th fret of your instrument. This chord will yield a higher tone than the open position we just showed you.
This position uses what we call a barre chord -- you bar your finger across the same fret, holding several strings down at once.
To play the D minor chord on ukulele in the 5th position, start by barring your index finger (1) across the 5th fret of the A, E, and C strings. Then place your ring finger (3) on the G string on the 7th fret.
Index finger: 5th fret of the A, E, and C strings
Ring finger: 7th fret of the C string
Strum all four strings together to hear the chord ring out.
Songs That Use the D Minor Chord on Ukulele
Learning the notes that build the D minor chord and different ways to play it are great first steps towards mastering this chord. However, playing songs that use this chord put that knowledge to practice, further cementing the D minor chord to memory. To help you put your D minor chord skills into practice, here are a few popular songs that use the chord on ukulele.
D minor plays a role in the intro, verses, and bridge of “So Much More Than This” by Grace VanderWaal. Played in a syncopated, plucking rhythm with the C chord, F chord, and the B♭ chord, D minor begins the energetic chord progression while Grace VanderWaal sings in her trademark husky voice. Not only good for practicing the D minor chord on ukulele, “So Much More Than This” is an opportunity to perfect techniques like string muting and syncopated strumming.
Like “So Much More Than This,” D minor is also seen in the verses of “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots. You’ll start off first with the main progression -- F major, D minor, and A minor -- then move onto a verse chord progression composed of A minor, D minor, C major, and G major. The sorrowful D minor chord turns powerful when played in the syncopated, up stroke pattern in “Stressed Out.”
Now time for something different. The D minor chord adds to the sultriness of Peggy Lee’s 1960 hit “Fever.” This song has just one main chord progression -- A minor, C major, D minor, and E dominant seventh -- but D minor is omitted in the tag (aka the ending).
Check out Fender Play Ukulele Lessons
Mastering the various ways to play the D minor chord on ukulele takes practice. The more you play, the quicker your fingers will memorize the correct positionings. Once you get the D minor chord down pat, you can move onto other ukulele chords like the E major or F minor chord.
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