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Chord Type:

Half diminished - m7b5

Name: m7b5

m7b5 - Half Diminished Chords

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The half diminished chord is a diminished chord with a minor7th added. It has the notes 1-3b-5b-7b. A Cm7b5 will have the notes C-Eb-Gb-Bb. This includes notes that we seldom use, and it would normally be played in a key we sledom use, either Db-major or Bb-minor. If we change to Bm7b5, the notes will be more familar: B-D-F-A. An we would normally use the chord - to the extent we will use the chord at all - in C-major and A-minor.

You might wonder why I use the label m7b5, and the call it "half diminished". But a mb5 - minor flat five chord is actually a diminshed chord. It would be two ways of describing the same chord. And as we use the label dim7 for the diminished chord with a diminished and not a minor 7th, we have to use the m5b label here. And since it is a 7th chord, is must be m7b5.

If we break down the chord into triads with added notes, we can label it either as a dim + a minor 7, for instance Bdim with the notes B-D-F, and the add the A. The three top notes in the chord will be a minor chord. In the Bm7b5, the top three notes will be a Dm chord. The chord is an extended dim chord, and can normally be used where a dim chord can be used. (But remember that those who use the label dim might mean dim7, and a dim7 cannot always be substituted by a m7b5.

It might also substitute the minor chord built on the third in the chord. But as it has the dissonant tritone interval, it will often not work wery well with such a substitution. But there are some interesting harmonic possibilities opening up here. In C-major, the ii-V7-I progression is Dm-G7-C. We have said that at G7 can be seen as a G + Bdim. And this means that a Bdim can substitute a G7. If we then say that a Bm7b5 can substitute the Bdim, then we are comming quite close to Dm – it is actually included in the Bm7b5 chord. You can try playing Dm - Bm7b5 - Bdim - G7 - C, instead of just the Dm-G7-C. Just if you are qurious: If we play all the notes of G7 and Bm7b5, it will be G-B-D-F-A, which is a G9 chord.

A:GP 2002-03

Recordings with - m7b5 Chord

  • Muriel Anderson - Blues For Macedonia -
  • The Beatles - Because -
  • The Beatles - Dig A Pony -
  • The Beatles - Happiness Is A Warm Gun -
  • The Beatles - Here, There And Everywhere -
  • The Beatles - Wild Honey Pie -
  • The Beatles - Real Love -
  • Wishbone Ash - King Will Come -
  • Further references:

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