It may be one of the trickier chords for beginners to learn on the ukulele, but don’t let that deter you. D Major is one of the most fundamental chords in many genres, like folk and country music. And mastering it on the ukulele will open you up to a wider repertoire than you could have imagined.
This article on the D Major chord goes into depth on the structure of the chord, as well as describing some different voicings or chord shapes that you might like to try. We also list some classic songs that feature the D Major chord.
Looking for more chords? Check out our guide >>> Easy Ukulele Chords for Beginners to Learn First
The chord of D Major is based on the D Major triad, which contains the notes D, F#, and A. A triad is a set of three tones, and all chords are based on a triad in some form or another. Major triads contain a root note, major third, and perfect fifth, whereas minor triads, the other primary type of triad, are made up of root notes, minor thirds, and perfect fifths.
It’s the major third in the major triad that gives the triad and related chords their ‘major’ sound, as well as lending its name to the chord. Major chords are generally what we would regard as ‘happy’ or ‘positive’ sounding chords, at least within the context of Western music.
How to Play
As previously addressed, the standard D Major chord can be somewhat tricky to play on the ukulele. This is due to its shape; playing the chord requires that you essentially place three of your fretting fingers in a row. On an instrument as small as the ukulele, it can be challenging to do so and actually fret the notes cleanly. You may also find that your hand quickly tires when playing this chord due to your fingers being cramped together.
Still, proper technique can help you master the D Major chord on ukulele and play it as well as possible. Generally, the easiest way to play the chord is by fretting the G string at the second fret with your second finger, the C string at the second fret with your third finger, and the E string at the second fret with your fourth finger. Play the A string open.
If you find it challenging to play the D Major chord consistently on the ukulele, a good thing to keep in mind is that you should try to limit tension in your fretting hand. Keeping your hand as relaxed as possible while playing should not only help you get a cleaner sound out of your uke, but also be able to hold the chord shape for longer.
Variation #2 – D Major Barre Chord
This variation on the D Major ukulele chord is a barre chord, but some may find it easier to play than the standard D Major voicing, thanks to its simpler shape. To play this chord, place your second finger across the fretboard at the second fret, using it to ‘bar’ the second frets on each string. Then, you simply need to fret the fifth fret of the A string with your fourth finger.
Not only is this shape a bit easier to play, but it also has a different tonal quality than the standard, open chord shape. By fretting all the notes in a chord, rather than playing some or all of the strings open, you gain more control over the quality that each of the notes have. This particular voicing projects more and has more warmth than the standard, open D Major voicing on the ukulele.
Variation #3 – Alternative Fingering
This voicing, which is played higher up the neck than the others covered in the article, has a brighter, more ringing quality. Fret the G string at the 8th fret with your third finger, the C string at the 7th fret with your second finger, the E string at the 6th fret with your first finger, and leave the A string open.
Playing this voicing instead of the standard D Major voicing may be a wise choice if you’re struggling to play the standard D Major cleanly. You might like to use this chord shape as a stopgap until you get more comfortable with playing the uke and have more practice with playing awkward chord shapes like the standard D Major chord.
More D Chord Variations
Songs that Use D Major
The D Major chord is one of the most widely used in Western music, and this means it’s had a crucial role to play in many classic songs from a huge array of genres. This is a list of just a few ukulele songs with the D Major chord:
- Bob Dylan – Blowing in the Wind: One of Bob Dylan’s most iconic songs, Blowing in the Wind is a profound reflection on the human condition where the chord of D Major plays a key role.
- Van Morrison – Brown-eyed Girl: With charming lyrics and a memorable melody, Brown Eyed Girl uses a few simple chords to great effect, of which one is D Major.
- The Cranberries – Zombie: This classic anti-war protest was one of the defining songs of the ‘90s, and the D Major chord is a large part of what helped build its iconic sound.