Guitar Keys

The Key of D Major for Guitar

The Key of D Major for Guitar

The notes in the key of D major are D, E, F#, G, A, B, and C#.

notes in the key of d

When assembled sequentially the notes form the D major Scale.

The Sound of D Major

One interesting aspect of the key of D major is its historical significance and association with certain types of instruments. In the Baroque period (1600-1750) D major was often considered a “hunting key” due to its bright and celebratory sound, making it well-suited for outdoor and festive music.

Furthermore, the key of D major is well-suited to fingerstyle playing, where you use your fingers to pluck the strings individually. The open strings and finger placements within the D major scale allow for intricate and melodic fingerpicking patterns, especially if playing in drop D tuning. This makes D major a favorite key for guitarists who enjoy creating rich, layered, and melodious arrangements using fingerstyle techniques.

The D Major Scale Step Pattern

The D Major Scale Step Pattern

The D major scale, like all major scales follows the pattern of whole steps and half steps irrespective of the key: whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half.

The step pattern for the D major scale begins on the root note D and then follows this pattern of whole (E), whole (F#), half (G), whole (A), whole (B, whole C#), half (D).

Playing The D Major Scale

The root D note can be found on the 10th fret of the 6th (E) string. If you are familiar with the CAGED system, One way to play this scale is to use the caged E shape scale pattern below.

The D Major Scale (chart and Tab)

Keep in mind, that there are many ways to play scales, this is just one example.

Chords In The Key Of D Major

All chords constructed from major scales follow the pattern of:

Major, minor, minor, Major, Major, minor, Diminished.

D Major Chord (Dmaj)
E Minor Chord (Emin)
F Sharp minor Chord (F#min)
G Major Chord (Gmaj)
A Major Chord (Amaj)
B Minor Chord (Bmin)
C Sharp Diminished Chord (C#dim)

*There are many different ways to play the chords above, the examples above are some of the easier voicings for each.

7th Chords in D Major

7th chords can be used in place of triads (major, minor, augmented, and diminished). They add richness, complexity, and depth to music by introducing additional harmonic flavors and tension. In the key of D major, we have the following 7th chords:

D Major 7D, F#, A, C#
E minor 7E, G, B, D
F# minor 7F#, A, C#, E
G Major 7G, B, D, F#
A Dominant 7 (Ab7)A, C#, E, G
B minor 7B, D, F#, A
C# Half-Diminished 7 (Minor 7 Flat 5)C#, E, G, B
D Major 7 Chord (Dmaj7)
E Minor 7 Chord (Emin7)
F Sharp Minor 7 Chord (F#min7)
G Major 7 Chord (Gmaj7)
A Dominant 7 Chord (A7)
B Minor 7 Chord (Bmin7)
C Sharp Minor 7 Flat 5 Chord (C#min7b5)

You can read more about 7th chords and how to apply them here.

Chord Function

Chords play roles within given keys due to the interplay between the notes that make up the chords, creating and resolving tension that gives rise to interesting, and pleasing chord progressions.

For example, the V chord, or dominant chord (Amaj) plays an important role in this regard, due to its inherent instability which introduces tension that pulls us strongly back to the tonic chord (Dmaj) to resolve.

* Capitals denote Major chords, lower case denotes minor chords.

You can read more about chord function and the relationship between chords here.

Common Chord Progressions In D Major

I – V – vi – IVDmaj – Amaj – bmin – Gmaj
I – IV – VDmajGmajAmaj
I – vi – IV – VDmajbminGmajAmaj
I – IV – vi – VDmajGmajbminAmaj
I – V – vi – iii – IVDmajAmajbmin – f#min – Gmaj

Relative Minor

The D Major Relative Minor is Bm

The relative minor key to D major is B minor. B minor contains the same notes as D major, however, the sequence of notes begins on the 6th scale degree.

B minor



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