What's a half-diminished chord (m7b5) ?
- By jazz-guitar-licks
- On 07/04/2017
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You surely know what are major chords, minor chords, seventh chords and diminished 7th chords ? But you may be wondering what half-diminished chords are ? In music, the most encountered chords are major and minor chords. These are the basis of the Harmony. Seventh chords (m7, Maj7 and dom7) are also widely used, particularly in jazz and blues music. When a guitar student start to take an interest in jazz, he can sometimes find chords with a little barbaric names such as diminished 7th chords, augmented or even half-diminished chords (m7b5). This article will explain you what are m7b5 chords, how to play them on the guitar and how to apply them in common harmonic contexts as major and minor II-V-I progressions.
Minor 7 flat 5 chord is close to a diminished 7th chord, the first 3 notes are identical but the 4th is different. This chord can be written in two ways: m7b5 or Ø. If you do not know how to play and what is a diminished 7th chord, you can read this page about diminished chord voicings.
As is it shown in the chart below, the half-diminished chord is built with a root (1), a minor third (b3), a flat fifth (b5) and a minor 7th (b7). The diminished 7th chord has a diminished 7th instead of the minor seventh. This is the only difference between these two chords.
|Half-diminished 7th chord||1||b3||b5||b7|
|Diminished 7th chord||1||b3||b5||bb7|
You can find the half-diminished chord in a number of harmonized scales. For example the 7th degree of the major scale, the 2nd degree of the harmonic minor scale and the 6th and 7th degree of the melodic minor scale.
The major harmonized scale
When you harmonize in thirds the degree VII of the major scale you obtain a m7b5 chord.
|C major scale||C||D||E||F||G||A||B|
The harmonic minor harmonized scale
When you harmonize in thirds the degree II of the harmonic minor scale you get a m7b5 chord.
|C Harmonic minor scale||C||D||Eb||F||G||Ab||B|
The melodic minor harmonized scale
When you harmonize in thirds the degrees VI and VII of the major scale you obtain two m7b5 chords.
|C Harmonic minor scale||C||D||Eb||F||G||A||B|
Half-diminished guitar chord diagrams
Half-diminished guitar diagram - Root on the sixth string
Half-dminished guitar diagram - Root on the fifth string
Half-dminished guitar diagram - Root on the fourth string
How to use the half-diminished chord
The m7b5 chord can be found in different contexts and is used in different substitutions. For example, when playing a minor II V I progression, the 2nd degree is a m7b5.
The half-diminished chord is specially a leading chord, the sound strongly pulls towards resolution. It is possible to use it as a diatonic substitution for a dominant 7th chord. Try to play the m7b5 a major 3rd higher than the dominant 7 chord to replace it. For example, use Bm7b5 for G7.
- This II-V-I : Dm7 | G7 | Cmaj7 becomes Dm7 | B-7b5 | Cmaj7
You can use the m7b5 as a substitution for a minor 7th chord, built from a minor third below. Meaning, you can replace Cm7 chord with an Am7b5.
- This II-V-I : Dm7 | G7 | Cmaj7 becomes Bm7b5 | G7 | Cmaj7
The minor seventh flat five chord is also an inversion of the minor 6 chord. This is a minor 6 chord with the sixth in the bass. Here is a comparison between them.
|Drop 2 Minor 6 chord formula (root position)||R||5||6||b3|
|Drop 2 D minor 6 chord||D||A||B||F|
|Drop 2 minor 6 chord formula - 3rd inversion (6 in the bass)||6||b3||5||R|
|Drop 2 - D minor 6 chord - 3rd inversion||B||F||A||D|
|Drop 2 Half-dimished chord formula (root position)||R||b5||b7||b3|
|Bm7b5 Drop 2 half-diminished chord||B||F||A||D|
Drop 2 minor 6 guitar chord diagram
Drop 2 minor 6 guitar chord diagram - Sixth in the bass
Drop 2 half-diminished guitar chord diagram.
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