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Db7#5 Piano Chord

    Piano Diagram of Db7#5 in Root Position

    Db7#5 Chord - Root Position - Piano Diagram

    A Db7#5 chord is an altered dominant seventh chord that is built upon the key of Db. This chord consists of the root note Db, the major third F, the augmented fifth A and the minor seventh Cb (equivalent to a natural B). However, due to the dissonance created by the augmented triad, the Db7#5 chord can be used as a substitute for dominant chords only in specific musical contexts. Another common use of this chord is as part of a modulation to or from a Db7 chord. If you keep reading, you will learn more about the music theory that underpins this chord.


    Structure of Db7#5


    Db, F, A, Cb


    R, 3, #5, m7


    Fingers Position

    Left Hand

    5, 3, 2, 1

    Right Hand

    1, 2, 4, 5

    How to play a Db7#5

    To play a Db7#5 chord, you can use the following voicing: begin by playing the root note Db with your left hand. Then, with your right hand, play the notes Cb (minor 7th), F (major 3rd), and A (sharp 5th).

    Db + Cb, F, A

    This will result in a voicing of Db7#5 that includes all notes: the root note, major 3rd, minor 7th, and sharp 5th.


    Db7#5 Chord Inversions


    The Db7#5 chord has a total of 3 inversions:

    Root Position: Db F A Cb
    1st Inversion: F A Cb Db
    2nd Inversion: A Cb Db F
    3rd Inversion: Cb Db F A

     Piano Keyboard Diagrams

    Chord Inversions on Piano

    A solid grasp of chord inversions is essential in music theory as it provides insights into how chords are built. When playing chord inversions on a piano, it’s crucial to realize that the charts depicting the note order may not always be practical or playable.

    To achieve the correct chord voicings on a piano, you need to distribute the chord notes across different octaves and positions on the keyboard. This often involves deviating from the standard shape of the chord’s inversions presented in charts, which may not be the most practical or comfortable way to play the chord.

    While chord inversion charts are useful for understanding the structure and sequence of notes in a chord, it’s advisable to experiment with different voicings and fingerings to discover the most efficient and comfortable way to play the chord, while still maintaining its intended harmonic function and sound.

    Music Theory and Harmony of Db7#5


    Dominant 7#5 chords are often used as a transitional chord to add an extra layer of tension to a dominant 7th chord and prepare for the resolution to the tonic. The Db7#5 chord can substitute or enhance the Db7 chord, commonly on the V degree, but also on the III degree, and occasionally on other degrees as a secondary dominant chord.

    Before examining the most common use of this chord, let’s learn how to build it.


    Building the Db7#5 Chord: Different Approaches


    Starting from the Db Major Scale:

    To form a Db7#5 chord, you combine the root (Db), the major 3rd (F), the augmented 5th (A), and the minor 7th (Cb) from the Db scale.


    Db Major Diatonic Scale up to octave

    Db Major Scale


    Db Major Diatonic Scale up to 13th - Keyless Notation

    Keyless notation of Db Major scale.


    To create a Db7#5 chord, apply the formula R, 3, #5, m7 in the following manner:

    1. Begin with the Root note, Db.
    2. Select the major 3rd interval, which is F.
    3. Add the 5th interval, which is Ab then raise it by half step: A.
    4. Add the minor 7th interval, Cb.

    By following this simple formula, you can create a 7#5 chord from any major scale.


    by Combining Intervals:

    One method to create a 7#5 chord is by combining specific intervals – a major 3rd, a major 3rd, and a 2nd.

    3 + 3 + 2 = 7#5 Chords

    For example, to build a Db7#5 chord:

    • we start with the root note Db.
    • We then add a major 3rd interval, which is four half-steps up from the root, to get F.
    • Next, we add another major 3rd interval, which is again four half-steps up from F, to get A.
    • Finally, we add a 2nd interval, which is two half-steps up from A, to get Cb.

    Together, these intervals form the Db7#5 chord.


    How to Use Db7#5 in a Chord Progression


    The Db7#5 can work as a substitute or as a passing chord to a Db7 that can be found in major and natural minor scales. However, note that it’s a non-diatonic chord due to the presence of the augmented 5th.

    These tables show the harmonized major and natural minor scales where you can find a Db7 or use it in place of other chords.

    Most common uses of Db7#5

    Db7#5 in Gb Major and Gb minor

    The Db7#5 chord is a popular choice for creating tension in music, often functioning as a dominant chord. In the context of the key of Gb major, you can use Db7#5 as the V7 chord, setting the stage for a resolution back to the I chord (Gb major).

    Major Scale I ii iii IV V vi vii
    Gb Gb Maj7 Ab min7 Bb min7 Cb Maj7 Db7 ⇒ Db7#5 Eb min7 Fm7b5
    • Substitute or Passing Chord to the Dominant chord in Gb Major


    Db7#5 as Substitute for Db min7

    The Db7 chord, taken from the harmonic minor scale, is frequently chosen to substitute for a Db min7 chord in the key of Gb minor. In certain situations, you can also opt for the Db7#5 chord instead of the Db7 chord, intensifying the harmonic tension and guiding the progression towards the Gb min7 chord.

    However, since Db minor is a theoretical key, we will refer to its enharmonic equivalent key F# minor.

    Minor Scale i ii III iv v VI VII
    Gb = F# F# min7 G#m7b5 A Maj7 B min7 C#m7 ⇒ C#7 ⇒ C#7#5 = Db7#5 D Maj7 E7
    • Substitute or Passing Chord to the Dominant chord in F# minor as C#7#5


    Db7#5 in a I – III7 Progression

    The Db7#5 chord is frequently employed as a substitute for the III degree in a I – III7 chord progression. This progression typically involves a Db minor chord, but when using the chords Bbb Maj7 (I) and Db7 (III7), you can introduce the Db7#5 chord instead of the usual Db minor chord.

    As before, we are still in a theoretical key (Bbb major), for this reason we will refer to the key of A major.

    Major Scale I ii iii IV V vi vii
    Bbb = A A Maj7 B min7 C#m7 ⇒ C#7 ⇒ C#7#5 = Db7#5 D Maj7 E7 F# min7 G#m7b5
    • Substitute or Passing Chord to the Mediant chord in A Major as C#7#5


    Db7#5 in Eb minor

    Although the Db7#5 chord can find a place in the key of Eb minor, it might not be as commonly used in this context. In fact, its resolution to Eb minor may not be as strong as its resolution to Gb major or Gb minor.

    Minor Scale i ii III iv v VI VII
    Eb Eb min7 Fm7b5 Gb Maj7 Ab min7 Bb min7 Cb Maj7 Db7 ⇒ Db7#5
    • Substitute or Passing Chord to the Leading Tone chord in Eb minor (less common)


    Db7#5 as Substitute for a Secondary Dominant 7th chord

    A secondary dominant is a chord that doesn’t belong to the main key of a musical piece but is used to strongly lead to another chord that does. In Western music, the fifth note of the scale has a powerful “dominant” role, creating tension that naturally resolves to the first note of the scale (I). A secondary dominant chord serves the same purpose but directs this dominant function to a different chord, causing a temporary shift away from the main key.

    For instance, in the theoretical key of Cb major, the Gb7 chord serves as the V chord, leading back to the I chord of Cb Maj7. Introducing an additional chord between Cb Maj7 and Gb7 that strongly gravitates towards Gb7 results in a secondary dominant chord. In this scenario, including a Db7 chord generates a pull towards Gb7, as Db7 functions as the V chord in the key of Gb.

    | Cb Maj7 | Gb7 |

    | Cb Maj7 | Db7 | Gb7 |

    Instead of using a standard Db7 chord, you can opt for the Db7#5 chord in its place or in combination with it. This substitution or addition can add more tension and complexity to the progression, leading to a more interesting and dynamic musical result.

    | Cb Maj7 | Gb7 |

    | Cb Maj7 | Db7/Db7#5 | Gb7 |


    Db7#5 Chord Function in Major and Minor Keys


    Db7#5 as Dominant Chord in Gb Major

    In the key of Gb major, the Db7 chord would be the dominant chord. The Db7 chord can be coupled or substituted by a Db7#5, let’s see how:

    I ii iii IV V vi vii
    Gb Maj7 Ab min7 Bb min7 Cb Maj7 Db7 ⇒ Db7#5 Eb min7 Fm7b5


    Db7#5 Chord Progressions as V degree

    Try playing these chord progressions to get an idea of how Db7#5 functions near the dominant chord. Begin by playing a Db7 for half a measure, followed by a Db7#5. This will create an ascending tension that sounds particularly pleasing in the key of Gb Major.

    ii V I
    ii V I
    Ab min7 Db7 | Db7#5 Gb Maj7


    I IV V
    I IV V
    Gb Maj7 Cb Maj7 Db7 | Db7#5


     I V vi IV
    I V vi IV
    Gb Maj7 Db7 | Db7#5 Eb min7 Cb Maj7


    I IV vi V
    I IV vi V
    Gb Maj7 Cb Maj7 Eb min 7 Db7 | Db7#5


     I IV ii V iii vi ii V
    I IV ii V iii vi ii V
    Gb Maj7 Cb Maj7 Ab min7 Db7 | Db7#5 Bb min7 Eb min7 Ab min7 Db7 | Db7#5


    Db7#5 as Dominant Chord in Gb minor

    Check C#7#5 in F# minor


    Db7#5 as III7 Degree in Bbb Major

    Check C#7#5 in A Major


    Db7#5 as Leading Tone Chord in Eb minor

    In the key of Eb minor, the Db7 chord is constructed on the leading tone, which is the seventh note of the scale. This chord can be substituted or changed to a Db7#5, although it might not be the most optimal position for this chord. Nevertheless, it remains a valid choice in specific musical situations.

    i ii III iv v VI VII
    Eb min7 Fm7b5 Gb Maj7 Ab min7 Bb min7 Cb Maj7 Db7 ⇒ Db7#5


    Db7#5 as VII degree – Chord Progressions


    i iv VII i
    i iv VII i
    Eb min7 Ab min7 Db7 | Db7#5 Eb min7


    i VII VI V
    i VII VI v
    Eb min7 Db7 | Db7#5 Cb Maj7 Bb min7


    i III VII VI
    i III VII VI
    Eb min7 Gb Maj7 Db7 | Db7#5 Cb Maj7


    i iv VII VI
    i iv VII VI
    Eb min7 Ab min7 Db7 | Db7#5 Cb Maj7


    i iv VII III
    i iv VII III
    Eb min7 Ab min7 Db7 | Db7#5 Gb Maj7


    Circle Progression
    i iv VII III VI ii V7 i
    Eb min7 Ab min7 Db7 | Db7#5 Gb Maj7 Cb Maj7 Fm7b5 Bb7 Eb min7


    Alternative Db7#5 Nomenclature

    • Db 7+5
    • Db 7(#5)
    • Db aug7
    • Reb 7#5
    • Db 7#5th
    • Db 7aug5
    • Db Dominant 7th #5
    • Db Dominant Seventh Sharp Fifth



    The chord progressions and examples presented in this post provide a comprehensive overview of the most common uses of the Db7#5 chord. It’s important to note, however, that many advanced harmony-related topics could not be included due to space constraints. These topics include chord progressions built on harmonic and melodic scales, modal scales, hidden tonality, secondary dominants and other chord substitutions, non-functional harmony and atonal music, modal interchange and borrowed chords, voice leading and counterpoint, chromatisms, jazz harmony…I mean, music theory is a huge topic!

    Although I couldn’t cover all of these topics in my post, I encourage readers to continue exploring these areas in their own study and research. By expanding your knowledge in these advanced areas of music theory, you can gain a deeper understanding of the harmonic possibilities that exist beyond the basics presented here.


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