In the Key of C minor what would a D major chord be?

The D major is part of a three chord progression. It's preceded by C minor and followed by G major (2nd inversion).

  • Are you sure the key is C minor and not G major? Sounds to me like C minor is the accidental chord here. Some songs have that. I’m saying this because D major and G major go together, so it’s likely that Cm is the off key chord here in a piece which is technically in G major (or could be D major as well). In any case, accidental or off key chords/notes can be used in music.
    – progy_rock
    Feb 21, 2021 at 7:11
  • 1
    The information here is too scant to prvide a good answer. We need to see the sequence, including several bars before and after. I'm thinking like progy_rock that in fact it's not in Cm. Just because that's the first chord doesn't make it the key.
    – Tim
    Feb 21, 2021 at 9:00
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    @Tim This is tragicomical, OP claims that the key is C minor, but everybody says "Nah, unfortunately, practice has shown that posters can't tell what the key is or what it means to be in a key, minor key in particular, so we won't believe your C minor claim, until you provide some proof-of-key we can verify." Maybe the OP should add "I actually know that it's in C minor and I know what it means to be in C minor, so you can base your answers on the assumption that what I wrote actually means what it literally says." Feb 21, 2021 at 13:16
  • @piiperiReinstateMonica - maybe we should believe in OP, maybe not. But having played the sequence several times, to me, at least, it sounds like G is a better fitting key, sound wise, and Cm doesn't. And there's more chance of finding all three chords in key G than in Cm.
    – Tim
    Feb 21, 2021 at 15:06
  • @piiperiReinstateMonica, I agree. The OP says C minor. Nothing in the question makes me doubt the scenario. Some question do present confusion in the description... but not this very straight forward question. Feb 22, 2021 at 22:02

3 Answers 3


I’m curious as to the timing, is it 2 bars of Cm, one each of D and G/D back to Cm? Even if it’s not that exactly, if it goes back to Cm then the D chord is a secondary dominant of the G chord, or a V/V.

  • I don't think we can answer this yet, as there's not enough concrete information. Sounds to me like its actually key G, making D V.
    – Tim
    Feb 21, 2021 at 9:03
  • @Tim based on OP saying it is a 3 chord progression I assume it loops back to Cm which justifies V/V to V. If that’s not the case OP should comment on it. I will edit if more info is provided. Feb 21, 2021 at 9:15
  • Absolutely right. But I think the question is lacking. If key is Cm, your answer is spot on. If the question changes the key, then it's wrong, and it's not your fault, but may glean dvs in your absence.
    – Tim
    Feb 21, 2021 at 9:25

In the Key of C minor what would a D major chord be?

It would be D major

It's preceded by C minor and followed by G major

G major is the dominant of C minor and D major is the dominant of G major, or the dominant of the dominant which called either a secondary dominant or applied dominant.

I don't mean to sarcastic in my answer. I'm just trying to emphasize the point that chord functions are really the result of progressions. An isolated chord doesn't really have a function.

In this particular case D major in C minor is likely to be a secondary dominant, but that's because secondary dominants are the most common type of chromatic chord. So, you could say it's very likely to be the secondary dominant to G major. But, you would always want to see how the harmony progresses to really know.


If we're in C minor, it's a secondary dominant. V of V. The G being 2nd inversion suggests that it (the G) MIGHT be about to act as a 'cadential 6/4' in G, but it could go other places just as well.

I suspect this question is only being asked because of an erroneous idea that a Cm base means all chords should be diatonic to C minor. You can ALWAYS throw in the dominant or dominant 7th of the next 'main' chord you're heading towards. And the dominant chord of C minor is G (that's G MAJOR) when you're playing the Functional Harmony game.

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