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D13 Piano Chord

    Piano Diagram of D13 in Root Position

    D 13 Chord Root Position Piano Diagram

    D13 is a chord that includes the root note D, a major third (F#), a perfect fifth (A), a minor seventh (C), a major ninth (E), an eleventh (G), and a 13th (B). It’s similar to a 6th chord since the 13th is a 6th at a higher octave but also includes a minor 7th, major 9th, and 11th.


    Structure of D13


    D, F#, A, C, E, G, B


    R, 3, 5, m7, 9, 11, 13

    Playing Extended Chords on Piano

    Extended chords are commonly used in piano playing, but they can be tricky to play in their entirety due to the large number of notes involved. To make these chords more manageable, pianists often omit certain notes, such as the root or the 5th. Another technique is to split the chord between both hands, playing either full or partial chords in each hand.

    How to play a D13

    One approach to playing the D13 chord is by playing the root note D with your left hand then, with your right hand, you can play the minor 7th note C, the 9th note E, and the 13th note B. This will result in a simplified D13 chord that only includes the root note, minor 7th, 9th, and 13th notes.

    D + C, E, B

    Alternatively, you can play the root note with your left hand and an inversion of the chord with the 7th note (C), the 3rd note (F#), and the 13th note (B) with your right hand.

    D + C, F#, B

    However, even when notes are omitted or split between hands, extended chords can still create complex and dense harmonies. When these chords are inverted, the resulting clusters of notes can be particularly challenging to voice effectively.


    D13 Chord Inversions


    The D13 chord has a total of 6 inversions:

    Root Position: D F# A C E G B
    1st Inversion: F# A C D E G B
    2nd Inversion: A C D E F# G B
    3rd Inversion: C D E F# G A B
    4th Inversion: E F# G A B C D
    5th Inversion G A  B C D E F#
    6th Inversion  B C  D  E  F# G A

    Piano Keyboard Diagrams

    D13 Chord - Root Position - Piano Diagram
    D13 Chord – Root Position


    Chord Inversions on Piano

    Understanding chord inversions is an essential aspect of music theory as it helps to explain how chords are arranged. When playing chord inversions on a piano, it’s important to keep in mind that the diagrams used to illustrate the order of notes may not always be practical or even possible to play.

    To achieve the proper chord voicings on a piano, you need to distribute the notes of the chord across various octaves and positions on the keyboard. This often means that the basic shape of the chord’s inversions shown in diagrams may not be the most convenient or comfortable way to play the chord.

    While chord inversion diagrams can be useful in comprehending the structure and sequence of notes in a chord, it’s always a good idea to try out different voicings and fingerings to discover the most efficient and comfortable way to play the chord, while still maintaining its intended harmonic function and sound.

    Music Theory and Harmony of D13


    The D13 chord is an extension of the D7 chord and is used on the V and VII degrees of major and natural minor scales, respectively. It can be used in all the positions where D7 can be played, but a more common use is to play it in conjunction with the dominant chord. However, it’s important to note that some positions may not work as well as others when using D13 instead of D7.

    If you want to experiment with using D13 as an alternative to D7, you can start by checking out the D7 chord page for ideas on where to begin. Trying out the D13 chord in different positions can help you understand which ones work well and which ones may not be as effective.


    Building the D13 Chord: Different Approaches

    Starting from the D Major Scale

    To form a 13th chord, you combine the root, the major 3rd, the 5th, the minor 7th, the major 9th, the 11th, and the 13th from a major scale.


    D Major Diatonic Scale up to 13th
    D Major Scale


    D Major Diatonic Scale up to 13th - Keyless Notation
    D Major Scale – Keyless notation


    To create a D13 chord, apply the formula R, 3, 5, m7, 9, 11, 13 in the following way:

    1. Begin with the Root note, which is D.
    2. Select the major 3rd interval, F#.
    3. Add the 5th interval, which is A.
    4. Add the minor 7th interval, C.
    5. Add the major 9th, which is E.
    6. Add the 11th G, which is a 4th interval at the higher octave.
    7. Lastly, add the 13th (B), which is a 6th at a higher octave.

    By following this simple formula, you can create a 13th chord from any major scale.


    by Combining Intervals

    One method to create a 13th chord is by combining specific intervals – a major 3rd, a minor 3rd, a minor 3rd, a major 3rd, and a minor 3rd. This is the formula:

    3 + m3 + m3 + 3 + m3 + 3 = 13th Chords

    Upon analysis of the D13 chord, we can note that:

    • the interval between D and F# is a major 3rd,
    • between F# and A is a minor 3rd,
    • between A and C is a minor 3rd,
    • between C and E is a major 3rd,
    • between E and G there is a minor 3rd,
    • and finally, between G and B there is a major 3rd.


    by Combining Chords

    Another way to build 13th chords is by combining a major triad with a Maj 7th chord derived from its minor 7th, or by merging a dominant 7th chord with a minor triad that is based on its second interval.

    D Major + C Maj7 = D13


    D7 + E minor = D13

    To build a D13 chord, you can blend a D Major triad with a C Major chord or a D7 with an E minor. When played together, these two chords produce a D13 chord.


    How to Use D13 in a Chord Progression


    The D13 chord is essentially an extension of the D7 chord, with the addition of the 9th (E), the 11th (G), and the 13th (B) note. Because of this, the D13 chord can often be substituted for the D7 chord.

    Here are the tables of the major and natural minor scales that include the D dominant 7th chord, which can be substituted or complemented by a D13 chord but I suggest referring to the posts on dominant 7th chords to learn more fancy uses and contexts in which a dominant 13th chord can be played:

    on G Major

    Major Scale I ii iii IV V vi vii
    G G Maj7 A min7 B min7 C Maj7 D7 ⇒ D13 E min7 F#m7b5
    • Dominant chord in G Major


    on E minor

    Natural Minor  i ii III iv v VI VII
    E E min7 F#m7b5 G Maj7 A min7 B min7 C Maj7 D7 ⇒ D13
    • Leading Tone chord in E minor


    D13 Chord Function in Major and Minor Keys

    Understanding Scale Degrees

    When we form chords from a scale, each note in the scale is given a specific degree that reflects its position within the scale. The degree of a note in a scale determines its function and the role it plays in the overall harmony of the music.

    1. Starting with the first degree of the scale, we have the Tonic chord. This chord serves as the foundation of the scale, providing a stable tonal center for the music. It’s like the “home base” of the music, and all melodies and harmonies are anchored to this chord.
    2. Moving on to the second degree, we have the Supertonic. This degree acts as a transitional note between the tonic and other notes in the scale, creating a sense of movement and flow in the melody or harmony.
    3. The third degree is the Mediant, which is located halfway between the tonic and dominant notes. This degree helps to establish whether the scale is major or minor and plays a critical role in determining the mood and emotional impact of the music.
    4. The fourth degree is the Subdominant, which complements the dominant and adds tension and resolution to the music. It creates a push-pull effect that keeps the listener engaged and interested.
    5. The fifth degree is the Dominant, which generates tension and a sense of expectation. It often acts as the climax of a musical phrase or section and is resolved by returning to the tonic.
    6. The sixth degree is the Submediant, which provides a sense of stability and restfulness to the music. It’s often used as a transition between the dominant and tonic, creating a feeling of calm and relaxation.
    7. Finally, we have the seventh degree, the Leading tone. This degree produces a strong sense of tension and a desire to resolve to the tonic. It’s often used to create a sense of resolution and completion in the melody or harmony.


    D13 as Dominant Chord in G Major

    In the context of the G major scale, the D13 chord can serve as the dominant chord on the fifth degree of the scale. This means that D13 would be the fifth chord in the scale and have a strong tendency to resolve to the tonic chord, which is G major in this case, or to the vi chord (E min7), which is the relative minor chord of G major.

    I ii iii IV V vi vii
    G Maj7 Amin7 B min7 C Maj7 D7 E min7 F#m7b5



    D13 Chord Progressions as V degree

    Try playing these chord progressions to get an idea of how D13 functions as the dominant chord. You can choose to modulate towards the D7 chord or play just the D13.

    ii V I
    ii V I
    A min7 D13 | D7

    D (C, E, B) | D (C, F#, A)

    G Maj7

    One possible way to voice the D13 chord is to play the root note D with your left hand and the notes C (minor 7th), E (9th), and B (13th) with your right hand. Similarly, for the D7 chord, you can play the root note D with your left hand and the notes C, F#, and A with your right hand.

    I IV V
    I IV V
    G Maj7 C Maj7 D13 | D7


     I V vi IV
    I V vi IV
    G Maj7 D13 | D7 E min7 C Maj7


    I IV vi V
    I IV vi V
    G Maj7 C Maj7 E min7 D13 | D7


    D13 as the Leading Tone chord in E minor

    In the context of the E natural minor scale, the D13 chord can be used as a variation for the dominant 7th chord on the VII degree. Using the D13 chord as a leading tone can create a sense of tension and resolution that can be used to lead into the tonic chord or as part of a modulation to the D7 chord.

    i ii III iv v VI VII
    E min7 F#m7b5 G Maj7 A min7 B min7 C Maj7 D7


    D13 as VII degree – Chord Progressions

    Here are some chord progressions that demonstrate how the D13 chord can function as the leading tone or be a part of modulation towards a D7:


    i iv VII i
    i iv VII i
    E min7 A min7 D13 | D7 E min7


    i VII VI V
    i VII VI v
    E min7 D13 | D7 C Maj7 B min7


    i III VII VI
    i III VII VI
    E min7 G Maj7 D13 | D7 C Maj7


    i iv VII VI
    i iv VII VI
    E min7 A min7 D13 | D7 C Maj7


    i iv VII III
    i iv VII III
    E min7 A min7 D13 | D7 G Maj7


    Circle Progression
    i iv VII III VI ii V7 i
    E min7 A min7 D13 | D7 G Maj7 C Maj7 F#m7b5 B7 E min7


    Alternative D13 Nomenclature

    • D 13
    • Re 13
    • D 13th
    • D 7/13
    • D dom13
    • D 7/9/11/13
    • D Dominant 13
    • D Dominant 13th
    • D Dominant thirteenth



    The chord progressions and examples presented in this post provide a comprehensive overview of the most common uses of the D13 chord. It’s important to note, however, that there are many advanced harmony-related topics that could not be included due to space constraints. These topics include chord progressions built on harmonic and melodic scales, modal scales, hidden tonality, secondary dominants and other chord substitutions, non-functional harmony and atonal music, modal interchange and borrowed chords, voice leading and counterpoint, chromatisms, jazz harmony…I mean, music theory is a huge topic!

    Although I couldn’t cover all of these topics in my post, I encourage readers to continue exploring these areas in their own study and research. By expanding your knowledge in these advanced areas of music theory, you can gain a deeper understanding of the harmonic possibilities that exist beyond the basics presented here.

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