Locrian scale guitar

What To Play Over A Half-Diminished Chord?

This guitar lesson with tabs and staves will enlighten you by proposing several options to solo over half-diminished chords aka m7b5.

What's A Half-Diminished Chord?

A half-diminished chord aka minor seventh flat five (m7b5) is a diminished triad (1 - b3 - 5) with an added minor seventh (b7). It can also be seen as a minor seventh chord with a flattened fifth.

Notice that it is should not be confused with a fully diminished chord which includes a diminished seventh (bb7) instead of a minor seventh (b7).

You'll find half-diminished chords in the following scale :

  • On the seventh step of the major scale.
  • On the sixth step of the melodic minor scale.
  • On the second step of the harmonic minor scale.
  • On the seventh step of the melodic minor scale.

Related PDF Methods

What To Play Over A Half-diminished Chord?

Here are the most common options available to you for building some nice jazz guitar lines over m7b5 chords.


Let start with some arpeggios that can be used over Dm7b5 chords. If you're not familiar with, you'll find many lessons as PDF methods and Mini Lessons on this website covering this topic.

  • The most obvious choice is a m7b5 Arpeggio starting on the tonic. This way you will simply play the chord tones (1 - b3 - b5 - b7).
D Half-Diminished D F Ab C
Intervals 1 b3 b5 b7


Half diminished arpeggio lick 01
  • Min7 arpeggio starting from the b3. The notes emphasized are : b3 - b5 - b7 and b9. Example with Dm7b5 try to play Fm7 (F - Ab - C - Eb).
F Minor 7 F Ab C Eb
Intervals 1 b3 5 b7
Half diminished arpeggio lick 02
  • When starting the previous minor 7 arpeggio on its b3 you obtain a maj6 arpeggio. Played from the b5 of the m7b5 chord we get b5 - b7 - b9 - b3. For example, try to play Ab6 (Ab - C - Eb - F) over Dm7 (Ab6 being an inversion of Fm7).
Ab6 Ab C Eb F
Intervals 1 3 5 6 (13)
Half diminished arpeggio lick 03
  • Maj7 arpeggio from the b5. The notes highlighted are b5 - b7 - b9 - 11 (4). Try Abmaj7 (Ab - C - Eb - G) over Dm7.
Ab Major 7 Ab C Eb G
Intervals 1 3 5 7
Half diminished arpeggio lick 4
  • Dominant 9 arpeggio from the b6, this way you emphasize the b9, 1, b3, b5 and b7. Example with Bb9 (Bb - D - F - Ab - G) over Dm7.
Bb9 Bb D F Ab G
Intervals 1 3 5 b7 9
Half diminished arpeggio lick 05
  • Minor pentatonic from the 4 (11) to highlight the 11, b6, b7, 1 and b3. Thus giving G minor penta (G - Bb - C - D - F) over Dm7.
G minor pentatonic G Bb C D F
Intervals 1 b3 4 5 b7
Half diminished arpeggio lick 06

Scales And Modes

Half-diminished chords are mostly present in minor 2 5 1 chord progressions. The most used modes and scales for improvising over m7b5 chords in that harmonic context are :

  • The Locrian mode, seventh mode of the major scale.  1 - b2 - b3 - 4 -  b5 - b6 - b7. Example with D Locrian (D - Eb - F - G - Ab - Bb - C).
D Locrian D Eb F G Ab Bb C
Intervals 1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7
Locrian scale guitar
  • The Locrianâ™®13 or Locrian natural 6, Locrian #6 and also harmonic natural mode 2, which is the second mode of the harmonic minor scale. The formula is 1 - b2 - b3 - 4 - b5 - 6 - b7. Example with D Locrian â™® 13 (D - Eb - F - G - Ab - B - C).
D Locrian 13 D Eb F G Ab B C
Intervals 1 b2 b3 4 b5 6 b7
Locrian 13 scale guitar
  • The Locrian #2 mode is the sixth mode of the melodic minor scale. It is also referred to as Locrian Natural 2, Locrian 2, Aeolian b5 or Semi Locrian. The formula is 1 - 2 - b3 - 4 - b5 - b6 - b7. Example with D Locrian #2 (D - E - F - G - Ab - Bb - C).
D Locrian #2 D E F G Ab Bb C
Intervals 1 2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7
Locrian natural 2 scale guitar
  • The Locrian bebop scale is actually made up of eight notes. The formula is 1 - b2 - b3 - 4 - b5 - 5 - b6 - b7. This is the Locrian mode with an passing tone (the fifth) between b5 and b6. Example with D Locrian bebop (D - Eb - F - G - Ab - A - Bb - C).
D Locrian bebop D Eb F G Ab A Bb C
Intervals 1 b2 b3 4 b5 5 b6 b7
Locrian bebop scale guitar
  • The Locrian Pentatonic scale, as its name implies is made of 5 notes present in the four previous scales :  1 - b3 - 4 - b5 - b7. Example with Dm Locrian pentatonic (D - F - G - Ab - C).
D Locrian D F G Ab C
Intervals 1 b3 4 b5 b7
Locrian pentatonic scale guitar
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half-diminished locrian half-diminished arpeggios improvisation

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