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Db7b5 Piano Chord

    Piano Diagram of Db7b5 in Root Position

    Db7b5 Chord - Root Position - Piano Diagram

    Db7b5 is a dominant seventh chord with a flat 5th built on the Db major scale. This chord consists of the root note Db, the major third F, the diminished fifth Abb, and the minor seventh Cb. The flat fifth creates a distinct dissonance so it can be used as a substitute for dominant chords only in specific musical contexts. If you keep reading, you will learn more about the music theory that underpins this chord.


    Structure of Db7b5


    Db, F, Abb, Cb


    R, 3, d5, m7


    Fingers Position

    Left Hand

    5, 3, 2, 1

    Right Hand

    1, 2, 3, 5


    How to play a Db7b5

    Play the root note Db with your left hand. Then, with your right hand, play the notes Cb (minor 7th), F (major 3rd), and Abb (diminished 5th).

    Db + Cb, F, Abb

    Omitting the root on your right hand, you can play also one of the three inversions of the chord.


    Db7b5 Chord Inversions


    The Db7b5 chord has a total of 3 inversions:

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

     Piano Keyboard Diagrams


    Db7b5 Chord Equivalencies

    If you take a 7b5 chord, you can find another 7b5 chord that has the same notes in it by either going up three steps from the root note or going down three steps from the root note.

    For example, Db is the root note of Db7b5 (Db, F, Abb, Cb), so if you go up three steps from Db, you get to G. Therefore, G7b5 (G, B, Db, F) has the same notes as Db7b5. The same thing happens going down three steps: you get to an Abb, which is the enharmonic equivalent of G.

    Db7b5 = G7b5 = Abb7b5

    The reason why going up three steps or going down three steps leads you to a chord with the same notes is because the interval between the root note and the diminished fifth is called a tritone. This interval is halfway between the octave and divides it into two equal parts. Therefore, going up three steps or going down three steps takes you to the same note that is a tritone away from the starting note.

    So, the Db7b5 chord is equivalent to both G7b5 and Abb7b5 because they all have the same notes in them, even though they have different names.

    Music Theory and Harmony of Db7b5


    Dominant 7b5 chords are often used as a transitional chords to add an extra layer of tension to a dominant 7th chord and prepare for the resolution to the tonic. The Db7b5 chord can substitute or enhance the Db7 chord, commonly on the V degree in a minor key, 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 Db7b5 Chord: Different Approaches


    Starting from the Db Major Scale:

    To form a 7b5 chord, you combine the root, the major 3rd, the diminished 5th, and the minor 7th from a major scale.


    Db Major Diatonic Scale

    Db Major Scale


    Db Major Diatonic Scale up to octave Keyless Notation

    Db Major Scale – Keyless Notation


    To create a Db7b5 chord, apply the formula R, 3, d5, 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 lower it by half step to get the diminished 5th, G, which we call Abb (A double flat) to preserve the basic structure of the chord.
    4. Add the minor 7th interval, B (Cb).

    By following this simple formula, you can create a 7b5 chord from any major scale.


    by Combining Intervals:

    One method to create a 7b5 chord is by combining specific intervals – a major 3rd, a major 2nd, and a major 3rd.

    3 + 2 + 3 = 7b5 Chords

    For example, to build a Db7b5 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 a major 2nd interval, which is two half-steps (a whole tone) up from F, to get G (Abb).
    • Finally, we add a major 3rd interval, which is four half-steps up from Abb, to get B (Cb).

    Together, these intervals form the Db7b5 chord.


    How to Use Db7b5 in a Chord Progression


    The Db7b5 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 diminished 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 Db7b5


    Db7b5 in Gb Major and Gb minor

    The Db7b5 chord is commonly used as a dominant chord. In the key of Gb major, the Db7b5 chord can be used as the V7 chord, which leads 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 ⇒ Db7b5 Eb min7 Fm7b5
    • Substitute or Passing Chord to the Dominant chord in Gb Major.


    Db7b5 as Substitute for Dbm7

    The Db7 chord derived from the harmonic minor scale is commonly used to replace a Dbm7 chord in the key of Gb minor. In some cases, the Db7b5 chord can also be used instead of the Db7 chord.

    However, Gb minor is a theoretical key and it’s easier and more practical to refer to its enharmonic equivalent key, F# minor.

    Natural Minor  i ii III iv v VI VII
    F# = Gb F# min7 G#m7b5 A Maj7 B min7 C#m7 ⇒ C#7 ⇒ C#7b5 = Db7b5 D Maj7 E7
    • Substitute or Passing Chord to the Dominant chord in F# minor as C#7b5.


    Db7b5 in a I – III7 Progression

    The Db7b5 chord can serve as a substitute for the III chord in a I-III7 chord progression that typically features a Db minor chord. In the chord progression represented by the chords Bbb Maj7 and Db7, the Db7b5 chord can replace the expected Db minor chord.

    But since Bbb is a theoretical key, we’ll refer to its equivalent key A major.

    Major Scale I ii iii IV V vi vii
    Bbb = A A Maj7 B min7 C#m7 ⇒ C#7 ⇒ C#7b5 = Db7b5 D Maj7 E7 F# min7 G#m7b5
    • Substitute or Passing Chord to the Mediant chord in A Major as C#7b5.


    Db7b5 in Eb minor

    The Db7b5 chord in the Eb minor scale could function as a leading tone chord, resolving to the Eb minor chord.

    Natural Minor  i ii III iv v VI VII
    Eb Eb min7 Fm7b5 Gb Maj7 Ab min7 Bb min7 Cb Maj7 Db7 ⇒ Db7b5
    • Substitute or Passing Chord to the Leading Tone chord in Eb minor.


    Db7b5 as Substitute for a Secondary Dominant 7th chord

    A secondary dominant is a chord that doesn’t belong to the main key of a song. Instead, it’s used to create a strong pull or tension toward a different chord that does belong to the main key. In Western music, the fifth note of the scale is known for its dominant function, creating tension that typically resolves to the first note of the scale. A secondary dominant serves a similar purpose but directs that tension towards a different chord, briefly taking the music away from the main key.

    As an example, in the key of Cb major, the Gb7 chord (which is the V chord) naturally leads back to Cb Maj7. Now, if you insert an additional chord between Cb Maj7 and Gb7, and this new chord strongly pulls toward Gb7, it becomes a secondary dominant chord. For instance, if you introduce a Db7 chord in this sequence, it creates that pull toward Gb7 because Db7 is the V chord in the key of Gb.

    | Cb Maj7 | Gb7 | Cb Maj7 |

    | Cb Maj7 | Db7 | Gb7 | Cb Maj7 |

    To spice up a harmonic progression, you can switch out or combine the standard Db7 chord with the Db7b5 chord. This alteration or inclusion can bring in more tension and complexity to the progression.

    | Cb Maj7 | Gb7 | Cb Maj7 |

    | Cb Maj7 | Db7/Db7b5 | Gb7 | Cb Maj7 |


    Db7b5 Chord in Major and minor Keys


    Db7b5 as Dominant Chord in Gb Major

    In the key of Gb major, the Db7 chord serves as the dominant chord. However, you can opt to use the Db7b5 chord instead of or in combination with the Db7 chord. Here’s how you can approach it:

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


    Db7b5 Chord Progressions as V degree

    To get a better understanding of how Db7b5 works alongside the dominant chord, try playing these chord progressions. Start by playing a Db7b5 chord for half a measure, followed by a Db7 chord. This descending tension creates a pleasing sound, especially in the context of the Gb Major key.

    ii V I
    ii V I
    Ab min7 Db7b5 | Db7

    Db (B, F, G) | Db (B, F, Ab)

    Gb Maj7


    I IV V
    I IV V
    Gb Maj7 Cb Maj7 Db7b5 | Db7


     I V vi IV
    I V vi IV
    Gb Maj7 Db7b5 | Db7 Eb min7 Cb Maj7


    I IV vi V
    I IV vi V
    Gb Maj7 Cb Maj7 Eb min 7 Db7b5 | Db7


     I IV ii V iii vi ii V
    I IV ii V iii vi ii V
    Gb Maj7 Cb Maj7 Ab min7 Db7b5 | Db7 Bb min7 Eb min7 Ab min7 Db7b5 | Db7


    Db7b5 as Dominant Chord in Gb minor

    Check C#7b5 in F# minor


    Db7b5 as III7 Degree in Bbb Major

    Check C#7b5 in A Major


    Db7b5 as Leading Tone Chord in Eb minor

    In the key of Eb natural minor, the Db7 chord is built on the leading tone, which is the seventh note of the scale. This chord can be replaced or modulated by a Db7b5.

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


    Db7b5 as VII degree – Chord Progressions


    i iv VII i
    i iv VII i
    Eb min7 Ab min7 Db7b5 | Db7 Eb min7


    i VII VI V
    i VII VI v
    Eb min7 Db7b5 | Db7 Cb Maj7 Bb min7


    i III VII VI
    i III VII VI
    Eb min7 Gb Maj7 Db7b5 | Db7 Cb Maj7


    i iv VII VI
    i iv VII VI
    Eb min7 Ab min7 Db7b5 | Db7 Cb Maj7


    i iv VII III
    i iv VII III
    Eb min7 Ab min7 Db7b5 | Db7 Gb Maj7


    Circle Progression
    i iv VII III VI ii V7 i
    Eb min7 Ab min7 Db7b5 | Db7 Gb Maj7 Cb Maj7 Fm7b5 Bb7 Eb min7


    Alternative Db7b5 Nomenclature

    • Db 7b5
    • Reb 7b5
    • Db 7(-5)
    • Db 7/b5
    • Db 7(b5)
    • Db 7b5th
    • Db 7 Flat 5
    • Db Dominant 7th b5
    • Db Dominant Seventh Flat Fifth



    The chord progressions and examples presented in this post provide a comprehensive overview of the most common uses of the Db7b5 chord. It’s important to note, however, that there are many advanced harmony-related topics that 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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