It is time to start learning piano chords on the black keys! Db (D Flat) is the first of the black key chords, and while the word “flat” might sound awfully weird if you’re new to piano, don’t worry. It’s really quite simple!
What is a Db Chord?
When you see the term “Db” this is an abbreviation for D Flat. A “b” is a flat sign in music theory.
The D-flat chord is basically just a chord in the family of major chords, made up of 3 notes in what’s called a triad. It is formed the same as any other major chord – by building a major third and then a minor third on top of that.
I know that might not make sense right now, but the diagrams and tips I’ll give you will expand on what that means!
Is C# Major the same as Db major?
Now, before we get any further, we need to answer an important question…namely, are the C# major and Db major chords the same?
The answer is, yes and no.
I know it is confusing, but every black key on the piano has TWO names. The first black key in each group of two can be called either C# (since it’s a half step up from C) or Db (since it’s a half step down from D). Flats always go a half step down and sharps a half step up.
(Want to learn more about flats and sharps? See this video).
So in a sense, yes, Db & C# chords are the same because they use the same exact notes. Your hand will be in the same place when you play both of these chords.
However, the spelling of these two chords are different.
Here are the two spellings:
Db – F – Ab
C# – E# – G#
Most piansts like using the D-flat spelling because does not put a sharp on a white key. I won’t get into why that happens in this post (if you’re interested in that, check out my post specifically on C#)—the main thing you need to know for now is that Db will be the easiest way for you to learn this chord!
How To Play a D-Flat Piano Chord
Now let’s get into the details of the Db chord!
You will play a Db major chord simply by pressing down the 3 notes in the triad simultaneously. See below for a diagram on which notes are included.
Notes In the Db Chord
In it’s regular form (root position) the D-flat chord includes 3 notes: Db, F, and Ab. Yes, there are 2 flats in this chord. Like I mentioned, this will feel a bit different from white key chords, but it’s okay!
One way to think of it is opposite to D, A, and E chords. These chords have one sharp in the middle. But Db has one white key in the middle with black keys on either side!
Anyhow, the Db is the root of the chord, the F is the major third, and the Ab the perfect fifth. Below you can see Db major on the keyboard!
Let’s talk a little more about finding these notes if you’re a beginner at playing piano.
What Key on the Piano is Db?
First of all, you want to start by finding what’s called the root of the chord – the note on the bottom. In this case, that note is D-flat, which as we have discussed, is a black key.
Db, as the name suggests, can be found by going directly below any D. Just go to the first black key to the left of a D (in musical terms, it is one half-step down!)
Another way to think of it is that Db is directly above any C.
Hopefully one of these methods will stick in your memory so you can always find Db easily!
Finding F and A-flat On The Piano
After finding Db, you’ll need to find the white key in the center, as well as the second flat. While this may seem intimidating, just take your time.
Remember, these 3 notes will all be a 3rd apart as far as intervals go. Make sure to use the keyboard diagram while looking at your own piano to make sure you get them right!
Db Chord Piano Finger Position
Once you know WHERE the notes are, it’s time to figure out where to put your fingers! Yes, fingering is always very important when playing the piano, even for simple chords like this. I know it can seem tedious in the beginning, but practicing fingerings now will help you in the future! (In fact, if you want to know a LOT more tips on piano practice, see this post!)
The nice thing is that the fingerings for major chords are always the same. Yes, even for the flat chords! Even though this chord feels different because of the flats, you will still use the same exact fingering.
Right hand fingering: 1 – 3 – 5
Left hand fingering: 5 – 3 – 1
Don’t forget that finger 1 is your thumb, finger 3 your middle finger, and finger 5 your pinky.
More Piano Chords To Learn
Db Chord Inversions
Now that you know the simplest form of the Db chord, you need to start trying out inversions! One of the biggest things that will help you as you learn piano chords is inversions, so don’t skip this.
Again, Db inversions will feel a little strange because of the two flats. However, the more you practice putting your hand in the form, the more it will start to feel normal.
By the way – if you’re unsure what inversions are, they are basically just the SAME notes but mixed up in a different order. Instead of having the Db note on the bottom, we’ll switch it up and put F and Ab on the bottom. I’ll explain more below!
Db/F – First Inversion Chord
Db first inversion is also known as “Db/F” – the reason for this is the Db is on the bottom. As you can see below, you’ll flip the Db from the bottom onto the top for first inversion.
Right Hand fingering: 1 – 2 – 5
Left hand fingering: 5 – 3 – 1
Db/Ab – Second Inversion Chord
Db second inversion is known as Db/Ab, for the same reason as the last chord—the Ab will now be on the bottom!
To play this on the piano, start with your hand on first inversion. Then, take the F on the bottom and put it on the top.
Now, Ab will be on the bottom, which is exactly what we want! See below:
Right hand fingering: 1 – 3 – 5
Left hand fingering: 1 – 2 – 5
Next, I highly recommend you try switching back and forth between ALL the different inversions when you practice! I normally have my students start at the root chord, go up the inversions, and then come back down to the root.
This will help you get used to the way the different chords feel with the flats.
Playing D Flat Major Chords in the Left Hand
After you learn how to play the Db chord and inversions, you can try doing some cool things with it in the left hand too!
If you try to play the basic chords down lower on the piano with your left hand, it won’t sound too good. This will make a very “thick” sound. You can’t hear the notes very clearly. My students usually scrunch up their noses anytime they hear a chord like this, haha.
So instead of just playing the chords in the left hand, I recommend experimenting with different voicings of the D Flat chord.
This basically just means you will still play the main chord in your right hand…but then you will also play a bass note to go along with it in your left hand.
Here is an example of how you could play a Db chord split between BOTH of your hands:
- Start by playing the regular root position Db chord in your right hand
- Put any note you learned in the Db chord down as a base note in the left hand. You can play a low Db to make it root position, or you could play a low F or Ab and that would make it first/second inversion.
- Try experimenting with different note combos! You can change up the inversion in your right hand and the bass note in your left hand to get different sounds.
Chords in the Key of Db
Good job – you’ve now learned quite a bit about the Db chord! However, there is still so much that can be learned about the key of Db in general. There are other chords that can go along WITH this chord! In fact, a chord can be built off of each note in the D-flat scale.
Here’s a quick list you can refer to:
vii: C diminished
I know, there are a lot of flat chords in that list! But if you start learning them one at a time, playing in the key of D flat will get easier and easier.
What Chords Go Well With D-Flat?
Any of the chords listed above will go well with the Db chord, because they are all in the same key signature (5 flats). However, they will sound better if you play them in certain orders. This is called a chord progression.
Common Chord Progressions In The Key Of Db
Playing chord progressions in the key of Db will involve (you guessed it!) a lot of flats. But don’t let that intimidate you. The more you play these chords, the better you will get at recognizing them. (In fact, if you need tips on memorizing your piano chords, see this post!)
- Db – Ab – Bbm – Gb (I – V – vi – IV)
- Db – Gb – Ab (I – IV – V)
- Ebm – Ab – Db (ii – V – I)
- Db – Gb – Ab – Ebm (I – IV – V – ii)
So there you have it – lots of info on the D Flat major chord! This chord is honestly one of my favorites. It gives you such a mellow, beautiful tone. The flats may take some getting used to, but I promise it will be worth it!