Learn 5 Ways to Play D Minor | Chord By Chord


Welcome to the latest installment of Chord by Chord, a series designed to build your understanding of harmony and the fretboard. With A minor and E minor chords now under your belt, this week you’ll learn a bunch of D minor shapes.

The Work

As usual, let’s start by identifying some notes. The D minor triad (Dm) is made up of D (root), F (minor third), and A (fifth), shown in Example 1. You’ll find the most common D minor shape in Example 2. Note that this voicing has four notes, with the D doubled. You could play it with your third finger on string 2 as written, or use your fourth finger on that string instead.


guitar notation for the D minor chord

Example 3a shows a five-note Dm barre chord in fifth position—see if you can identify the doubled notes—while Example 3b shows a compact variation that uses the open D string as the lowest note. You could also include the open A string (the fifth of the chord) for a slightly different sound.

Another Dm barre chord, this one containing all six strings, can be found in tenth position (Example 4a). As with the fifth-position Dm chord, it can also be played in an abbreviated form, using the open D string as the lowest note. Try adding the open A string to this voicing as well.

The Result

If you’ve been following along with this series, you now know a bunch of different shapes for C, G, D, Am, Em, and now Dm chords. A couple of songs that include Dm are “505” by the Arctic Monkeys and “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye. Next time I’ll teach you how to start connecting some minor chords in two different keys.

Kate Koenig
Kate Koenig

Kate Koenig is a singer-songwriter, music teacher, and music journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. They have been a regular contributor to Acoustic Guitar since 2017.

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