Chords make up the building blocks of all music. They give the music we play its character and personality, as well as providing us with a structure for melody, instrumentation, and arrangements. Each kind of chord has its own distinct sound, which contributes to the overall atmosphere that a given piece of music creates.
7th chords, for example, are widely used in music to give contrast to standard major and minor chords. They are often also used to create tension before release in moments of transition. One of the most used 7th chords in Western popular music is the D7 chord. You’ve probably heard the chord used in countless songs in the past and might be wondering how to play the D7 chord on the ukulele.
Our guide goes into depth on how the D7 chord is constructed, as well as different ways that you can play the chord. We also discuss some well-known songs that use the D7 chord.
Looking for more chords? Check out our guide >>> Easy Ukulele Chords for Beginners to Learn First
Chords are essentially a collection of notes or tones played simultaneously. Major and minor chords are the two most used types of chords, and many other types of chords (major and minor 7th chords, dominant 7th chords, and so on) are basically just subtypes of these chords. You can also find other subtypes, like suspended chords.
Most chords are made up of three or more notes. The three primary notes that make up a chord are known as a triad. A major triad consists of a root note, major third, and perfect fifth. Minor triads are made up of their root note, minor third, and perfect fifth. While the difference between a major and minor third is only a semitone, this is a large enough interval to completely change the character of the chord.
7th chords, also known as dominant 7th chords, are major chords with an extra note added, the dominant 7th. It’s also possible to play 7th chords as a triad, though; you can leave out one of the other notes that make up the chord. Different ways to play a given chord are usually called ‘voicings,’ or inversions, and playing around with different chord voicings is an important part of arrangement for music.
The D7 chord is a 7th chord based on the D major triad. So, your standard D7 chord is made up of the notes D, F#, A, and C. The C is the ‘dominant’ 7th in this chord, and it’s the note that gives the D7 chord that distinctive, dominant 7th sound.
How to Play the D7 Chord on the Ukulele
So, now we know how the D7 chord is made and why it sounds the way that it does. You may be wondering what the D7 ukulele chord looks like. There are multiple ways to play the D7 chord on the ukulele, and we’ll be covering some of the most common voicings in this section.
Standard D7 Ukulele Chord Shape
This is probably the simplest and most common way to play the D7 chord on the ukulele. Given that it only requires fretting on two strings, it’s an easy shape to play. Fret the G string at the second fret with your first finger and the E string at the second fret with your second finger. Then, simply leave the C and A strings open while you strum the chord.
D7 Barre Chord Shape
This is a barred shape you can use to play the D7 chord on the ukulele. Barre chords do have a reputation for being difficult for beginners to the ukulele to play, but this is one of the simpler shapes to master thanks to the notes being close together on the fretboard.
To play this shape, use your first finger to fret all four strings at the second fret. Then, fret the A string at the third fret with your second finger. Try to limit the tension in your hand as much as possible, as too much tension can make it difficult to sustain the chord for extended periods.
D7 Chord – Alternative Voicing
This chord is another way to play the D7 chord on the ukulele, without barring the chord. It may be slightly tricky for beginners to the ukulele to consistently pull off, but it’s a great way to practice proper fingering on the instrument.
To play this chord shape, fret the G string at the seventh fret with your fourth finger, the C string at the sixth fret with your third finger, the E string at the fifth fret with your second finger, and the A string at the third fret with your first finger.
More D7 Chord Variations
Songs that Use the D7 Chord
- John Denver – Today: This folk classic by John Denver features a beautiful arrangement and harmony, which the D7 chord is an important part of.
- John Lennon – Happy Christmas (War is Over): John Lennon’s iconic anti-war protest song makes heavy use of the D7 chord.
- Angels We Have Heard on High: One of the more popular Christmas songs out there, Angels We Have Heard on High utilizes the D7 chord to great effect.