Popular Songs in D Minor

“Music Theory: Songs and Emotions

in D Minor”


  • Songs in D minor
  1. D minor scale
  2. Chords in the key of D minor
  3. Set Fire To The Rain by Adele
  4. Songs of the 80′s, 90′s and later in D minor
  5. Sunshine Of Your Love by Cream
  6. Songs of the 60′s & 70′s in E minor
  7. Song emotions in D minor
  8. Homework


Popular Songs in D Minor

Hi guys, in my last two posts I returned to the “popular songs” series under the “music theory” category and showed you a lot of songs in the key of A minor and E minor.

This week’s post is a continuation of this series and we will discuss and analyse popular songs in D minor.




Songs in D minor

“D Natural Minor Scale”

The key of D minor has one flat, Bb. D minor is the relative minor of F major which also has Bb as its only flat.

Example 1: D minor is the relative minor of F major


D minor, one flat Bb                     F major, one flat Bb


To find the relative major of any minor key we have to  go 3 half steps up from the minor key. In this case we use D minor as the example so 3 half steps up will be D to D#, D# to E and E to F.

As already mentioned in my last post you can check one of my earlier posts called “How to Use Minor Scales and Keys” where I explain this in detail.

Example 2: D Natural Minor Scale has one flat, Bb


D Natural Minor Scale








“Chords in the Key of D Minor”

To be able to play all the chords in the key of D minor we have to start building these on each degree of the D natural minor scale. Remember that we use triads = three note chords in the example below:


D Natural Minor Scale With Chords








And we are now ready to expand to seven chords = four note chords, these strengthen the mood:


D Natural Minor Scale With Seven Chords








So it’s time again to get into the different type of songs in this key.


“Set Fire To The Rain by Adele”


I have chosen this song because of its sheer power and great atmosphere. Adele almost sings her guts out, conveying a mood of sadness on one side and determination on the other.

An other element what makes this song so powerful is the orchestra. It strengthens mood and power of her message. “Set Fire To The Rain” appears on one of her albums called “21″:



So lets discuss the form of this magnificent song:


Intro 4 bars  → 1st Verse 8 bars → 2nd Verse 8 bars → Transitional Bridge

7 bars → 1st Chorus 8 bars → 3rd Verse 8 bars → Transitional Bridge 7 bars

→ 2nd Chorus 8 bars → 3rd Chorus 8 bars → Primary Bridge 8 bars → 4th

Chorus 8 bars → 5th Chorus 8 bars → 1st Instrumental Chorus 8 bars →

2nd Instrumental Chorus


Songs in D Minor

As in my previous post “Popular Songs in E Minor”, some of the name tags of the song form of “Set Fire To The Rain” can be called differently, e.g. transitional bridge could be called pre chorus, primary bridge → middle 8 and instrumental chorus → ending chorus or post chorus.



The chord progression itself stays nicely within in the D minor key and are solely derived of the D natural minor scale. Please look at the chord chart below:


Adele - Set Fire To The Rain Chord Chart P1

Adele - Set Fire To The Rain Chord Chart P2

Adele - Set Fire To The Rain Chord Chart P3








“Songs of the 80′s, 90′s and Later in E Minor”

Bruno Mars – Locked Out Of Heaven

Gotye (feat. Kimbra) – Somebody That I Used To Know

Ne-Yo – Let Me Love You

Beyonce – Crazy In Love

Katy Perry – Part Of Me

Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball

Coldplay – The Scientist

No Doubt – Simple Kind of Life

Five – When The Lights Go Out

George Michael – Careless Whisper

Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight

The Police – Walking on the Moon

A-Ha – The Living Daylights


“Sunshine Of Your Love by Cream”

The next song I would like to discuss is “Sunshine Of Your Love” by the famous rock-trio “Cream”.

It was one of the few British bands which stood, creatively and technically, on equal level with “The Beatles” and “The Jimmy Hendrix Experience”.

It’s members, guitarist Eric Clapton, bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker bundled their talents together and so developed their distinguished rock style in the 2nd half of the sixties.



Before we get into its famous bass line, I would first like to show you the song form:


Intro 8 bars → 1st Verse 16 bars → 1st Chorus 8 bars → Interlude 2 bars → 2nd Verse 16 bars → 2nd Chorus 8 bars →  Guitar Solo Verse 16 bars → Guitar Solo Chorus 8 bars → Interlude 4 bars → 3rd Verse 16 bars → Extended Chorus 12 bars → Ending fade out


Popular Songs

You can count its tempo in 2 ways, either cut time at one quarter note equals 120 or half time at one quarter note equals 60 (in this case everything is half as long, e.g. intro 4 bars).



Again the tags I gave to the sections of this song are my own choice. For instance you could call the chorus a kind of a transitional bridge, however I call it chorus because the title of the song is sung and stressed at the end of this section.

Lets look at its famous bass and guitar line which are played partly in unison (sharing the same notes) and partly with harmony (chords and line):


Sunshine Of Your Love - Cream Guitar & Bass P1

Sunshine Of Your Love - Cream Guitar & Bass P2










When we look at the song form of the verse its is derived from a 12 bar blues, except that in this case there are 16 bars.  The four extra bars you could call a link to the chorus since Jack Bruce doesn’t sing here.

One other thing is that in the traditional blues form the 5th bar always goes to the IV chord in this case the G in the guitar and bass. But as you can see in the verse here it doesn’t go to the IV chord in the 5th bar instead this happens in the 9th bar.


“Songs of the 60′s & 70′s in D Minor”

Chic – My Feet Keep Dancing

Earth, Wind & Fire – Boogie Wonderland

Earth, Wind & Fire – Devotion

10cc – The Walls Street Shuffle

Pink Floyd – Another Brick In The Wall

Dire Straits – Sultans Of Swing

Sarah Brightman - Scarborough Fair

Santana – Black Magic Woman

Santana – Flor d’Luna (Moonflower)

Cream – White Room

The Beatles – Come Together

Moody Blues – Eternity Road

Shocking Blue – Never Marry A Railroad Man

J.S.Bach – Toccata And Fugue In D Minor


“Song Emotions in D Minor”

I first would like to discuss a comment I’ve got some time ago about the effectiveness of emotions in keys.

Somebody wrote that emotions in certain keys are too subjective and that rather the instrumentation and arrangement of a piece will convey that particular feeling. Therefor the emotions of certain keys become invalid.

I have to say that I agree with this person. Yes, the instrumentation and arrangement of a piece can indeed override the characteristic feelings of that particular key.


Song Emotions in D Minor

If, lets say, we are in the key of D major and the general emotions are of triumph, victory and glory, it is very much possible to override these if the composer decides to make the arrangement into a reggae dance style tune.

The same is true if the composer changes the instrumentation from e.g. brass (trumpets, trombones, euphoniums and tubas)  to woodwinds ( flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn and bassoon). If the composition was at first heavy with a victorious mood now becomes light and thin with a soft feeling.

However the emotions stated in several keys are not just made up, they are based on the general perception of how the different keys feel in comparison to each other.

So at the other hand I’m not afraid to continue writing about the general emotions of other keys to come.


Chord Progression in D Minor

The emotions in the key of D minor are melancholy womanliness. This means having positive characteristics or qualities, especially warmth, calmness, and knowledge, credited to feminine powers (Eternity Road – Moody Blues and Scarborough Fair – Sarah Brightman).


This key can also convey a feeling of anger, bad temper or annoyance (Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus and Part Of Me – Katy Perry).



This time try to write a two or four bar bass line. You can use “Sunshine Of Your Love” as your example and from there write your own. Optionally you could write a melody which goes along or put chords under this bass line.

Below you can print out some score paper to write your song:

10 Double Staff Music Paper


A recap of today’s post:

  • D minor scale and chords
  • I discussed the song forms, bass lines & chord progressions of Set Fire To The Rain and Sunshine Of Your Love
  • I showed a list of songs from the 80′s, 90′s and later in D minor
  • I showed a list of songs from the 60′s & 70′s in D minor
  • I discussed emotions of songs in D minor
  • Homework


If you’d like to download all the scores and charts of this post, you can do so below:

Scores and Charts of Popular Songs in D Minor


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About the Author:

Hans Hansen is the author and founder of “The Music Arrangers Page” and is always happy to share his passion for music arranging. In addition, he is a well experienced piano & bass guitar teacher, specializing in classical, rock and jazz. Any questions you have about music arranging; he is the person to ask. He also likes to invite you to download his Special Free Gift and connect with him on Facebook & Twitter or leave a comment on his blog.

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