One-Octave Minor 7th Flat 5

What is a Minor 7 Flat 5 Chord?

The minor 7 flat 5 chord is another fairly common 7th chord. This 7th chord is basically an extension of the diminished triad. It is sometimes called a half-diminished chord because of its similarity to a chord known as a fully diminished 7th, or just diminished 7th. (We'll examine that chord later. It's not important at this point.)

You'll encounter the minor 7 flat 5 chord most often in jazz. It's a rare chord in rock, blues, R&B, and many other popular styles, but it may come up and knowing it is important.

Minor Seventh Flat 5 Chord Construction

The minor 7(b5) chord just adds a minor 7th interval, or flatted 7th, to the diminished triad pattern of root, flat 3rd and flat 5th. (See intervals.) The minor 7(b5) chord is built with a root, minor 3rd, diminished 5th and minor 7th.

Another way to think of its construction is it is simply a minor 7th chord with a flatted fifth. (Hence the name!)

If you examine the thirds construction of the minor 7(b5) chord, you’ll see it is built from stacking a minor third (root to 3), minor third (3 to 5) and major third (5 to 7) on top of any root note.

Minor 7(b5) Chord Pattern Fingering

To play one basic fingering for this chord pattern, all you need to do is add the flat 7th to your diminished triad fingering.

Play:

Root (1st finger)
b3 (4th finger)
b5th (2nd finger)
b7th (1st finger)
Octave root (3rd finger)

Minor 7(b5) Chord Symbols

Like most chords, you will encounter several different chord symbols representing the same type of chord. The minor 7th flat 5 chord is often notated as m7(b5). It may also appear as mi7(b5) or -7(b5). Sometimes the parentheses may be missing as in mi7b5. Yet another variation is m7-5 with the dash indicating to lower the fifth.

Another harder to read symbol for this chord might be a degree symbol with a slash through it: ø. This symbol is derived from the half-diminished name. A diminished 7th is often notated with a circle, so marking a slash through it makes it "half-diminished."

For example, the C minor 7 flat 5 chord could be notated any of these way:
Cm7(b5), Cmi7(b5), C-7(b5), or Cø.

Applying the Minor 7th Flat 5 Chord

I've added a couple example applications of this chord. Again, until you venture into jazz you won't see this chord too often. The main thing to watch out for is to remember to play a flatted 5th rather than the perfect fifth. The flatted 5th is a key element to the sound of this chord and that note often plays an important role in the overall chord progression.

Here is an example of using the minor 7 flat 5 chord pattern.

Minor 7 Flat 5 Details
Thirds construction: m3, m3, M3
Intervallic construction: Root, m3, D5, m7, (P8)
C minor 7 (b5) spelling: C, Eb, Gb, Bb

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