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Tip: The Minor 7 b5

This chord doesn’t get a lot of press, but it’s pretty useful. We’re going to look at the min7b5 chord. First, a pattern for it:

|------|
|-6----|
|-5----|
|-6----|
|-5----|
|------|

That’s the D min7b5. And here’s an arpeggio pattern for the same chord. Use this to solo:

|-------------4-8-|
|-----------6-----|
|-------5-7-------|
|-----6-----------|
|-5-8-------------|
|-----------------|

Where can we use the min7b5? Let’s look at three different uses: 1) replacing the dom 7, 2) replacing a tonic minor chord, and 3) in a minor ii V I progression.

Here’s an example of the first usage:

|------|------|------|
|--6-6-|-6--6-|-6----|
|--8-8-|-7--5-|-5----|
|--6-6-|-6--6-|-5----|
|--8-8-|-8--5-|-6----|
|------|-6----|------|

This progression is as follows: F minor 7 in bar 1, Bb7 and D min7b5 in bar 2, and Eb 6/9 in bar 3. In other words, a ii V I in Eb major.

Look at bar 2. We’re substituting the D min7b5 in place of the Bb7 here. The Bb7 was also included, so you can compare the similarity of sounds. Why do the Bb7 and D min7b5 sound alike? Look at the notes:

D min7b5: D F Ab C
Bb7: Bb D F Ab

Three notes in common definitely make for a similar sound. Next time: usage 2) replacing the tonic minor chord.

Thanks for reading.

Copyright © 2008 Darrin Koltow

This first appeared in the Guitar Noise News – October 1, 2006 newsletter. Reprinted with permission.

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