Welcome to another how to chord lesson; today we will be learning the Dm Chord! Known for having a melancholy sound, Dm is a great addition to your basic chord library, and learning it will allow you to play a wider variety of songs on your ukulele.
In this lesson, I’m going to give you an overview of how the Dm chord is built, show you how to play it, and give you some tips on how to make sure it sounds good.
So what are we waiting for? Let’s slide into the Dm… chord!
Understanding the Dm Chord Musically
The Dm chord is made up of the notes D-F-A. Given that the open strings of the ukulele are G-C-E-A, we can see that to play the chord requires changing three of those notes (G, C, and E).
Starting with the E, if we move one fret up (also known as a half step up), we get F. Moving onto the C string, if we move up two frets (known as a whole step), we get our D. Combine those two notes with the open A string, and we’ve technically got our D-F-A triad already, just don’t hit the G string when strumming. But when possible, we want to be able to strum all 4 strings of the ukulele and give the chord as full a sound as possible, so let’s add that A two frets up on the G string. There, now we’ve turned G-C-E-A into A-D-F-A, thus giving us our fuller sounding Dm triad with an extra A.
Read More: Learn to play “Let it Be” on your Ukulele
Don’t worry if you don’t follow all of this right now, you don’t need to understand it in order to play the chord. This information is just to help you start to get a sense of how chords are built musically, a skill that can be really useful in helping you figure out your own chords down the road.
Fingering the Chord
So do you notice anything familiar about the Dm chord in the diagram above? It’s almost exactly the same as the F chord on your uke! This means if you can play an F, you are already 2/3rds of the way towards playing a Dm – all you have to do is add one finger!
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To play the Dm chord, place your first (index) finger on the 1st fret of the E (2nd) string, and your second (middle) finger on the 3rd fret of the G (4th) string – there’s your F chord. Now just add your third (ring) finger to the 3rd fret of the C (3rd) string and viola… Dm! Go ahead and give it a strum. How does it sound?
If you are having trouble getting the Dm chord to sound out clearly (meaning all four of the notes, when played individually, can be heard clearly), here are some things to try:
Check Finger Placement
The Dm chord requires putting three fingers in very close proximity to each other, which can lead to some issues for those who aren’t used to the shape. First, check to make sure you are using the tips of your fingers and are placing them as close to (but not on top of) the frets as possible. If you are still having issues, it is likely that the side of one or more of your fingers is touching the string below it – with Dm it will most likely be your fingers on either the C or E string.
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Cut Your Nails
If you are having trouble using the tips of your fingers to fret notes, check to make sure the nails on your left hand are as short as possible. Your nails may be hitting the fretboard and preventing you from pressing down with enough pressure on the string for it to ring out clearly.
As always, just take it one step at a time and keep on practicing!
Bonus fact: For those of you who are digging in the nerdy musical info, an F chord is made up of the notes F-A-C, which means there are two notes of overlap with Dm (F and A). When you play an F chord on the uke, you are playing A-C-F-A. If you recall, when we play Dm, we are playing A-D-F-A. Musically speaking, that is why we only have to add one finger to make F into Dm – it’s just a matter of changing the C to a D!
For more lessons on chords, techniques, and songs, make sure to slide into www.ukelikethepros.com. We offer you a bunch of great ukulele content that comes hand-in-hand with an awesome ukulele community that will support you in this journey.