Theory Quick Tip - M7b5th Chords
The Professor
Oct 17 2013, 11:28 PM
Theory Instructor
Posts: 888
Joined: 8-January 13
From: Manchester UK
In today's theory quick tip we'll be looking at an easy way that you can view m7b5th chords on paper and on the fretboard.

Rather than thinking of m7b5th chords as four notes, such as C Eb Gb Bb for C7 (R-b3-b5-b7), you can think of these chords as two different triads.

When doing so you can picture a Cdim triad from the root of the chord, C Eb Gb, then an Ebm triad from the 3rd of the chord, Eb Gb Bb, which when combined give you the full, Cm7b5 chord shape.

This is particularly helpful when learning how to play and apply m7b5th chords on the guitar, as you actually don't have to learn anything new in order to sound a m7b5th-chord shape on the neck.

You can simply play a minor triad from the 3rd of the m7b5th chord you want to play, and voila, you have a m7b5th chord, as the bass player holds down the root and completes the 4-note shape.

Playing a minor triad from the 3rd of a m7b5th chord, or moving between a tonic diminished triad and minor triad from the third, such as Cdim and Ebm over Cm7b5, is a great way to break down a complex chord, use previous knowledge (triads) and quickly play these shapes on the fretboard without having to learn anything new.

What do you think about breaking m7b5th chords down into triads on the guitar? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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