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Cm7b5 Piano Chord

    Piano Diagram of Cm7b5 in Root Position

    C M7b5 Chord Root Position Piano Diagram

    The Cm7b5 chord, also known as a half-diminished chord, is a minor dominant seventh chord with a flat 5th built on the C major scale. This chord consists of the root note C, the minor third Eb, the diminished fifth Gb, and the minor seventh Bb.


    Structure of Cm7b5


    C, Eb, Gb, Bb


    R, m3, d5, m7


    Cm7b5 Chord Inversions


    The Cm7b5 chord has a total of 3 inversions:

    Root Position: C Eb Gb Bb
    1st Inversion: Eb Gb Bb C
    2nd Inversion: Gb Bb C Eb
    3rd Inversion: Bb C Eb Gb

     Piano Keyboard Diagrams


    Cm7b5 Chord Equivalencies

    When you invert a half-diminished chord to its first inversion, it becomes equivalent to a minor 6th chord built on its minor 3rd.

    Let’s take the Cm7b5 chord which consists of the notes C, Eb, Gb, Bb: its first inversion is Eb, Gb, Bb, C, which is actually an Ebm6 chord.

    1st Inversion of Cm7b5 = Ebm6

    Understanding the equivalencies of chords can be beneficial when playing or composing music. It can also help in analyzing and understanding the harmonic structure of a piece of music.

    Music Theory and Harmony of Cm7b5


    Cm7b5 is considered a half-diminished chord, which means it has a diminished fifth and a minor seventh interval. This chord can be used as a substitute for other chords, such as a dominant seventh chord or a minor chord.

    In jazz and other styles of music, Cm7b5 is often used as a passing chord or as part of a ii-V-I progression. It can add tension and interest to a musical passage, and can also be used as a starting point for improvisation.

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


    Building the Cm7b5 Chord: Different Approaches

    Starting from the C Major Scale:

    To form a minor 7b5 chord, you would typically include the root note, minor third, diminished fifth, and minor seventh from a minor scale.

    However, when teaching this concept, it can be more effective to demonstrate its construction using a major scale. This is because a major scale better illustrates the relationship between intervals and their respective qualities.

    So let’s take the C major scale:


    C Major Diatonic Scale up to 13th - Keyless Notation

    C Major scale


    To create a Cm7b5 chord, apply the formula R, m3, d5, m7 in the following manner:

    1. Begin with the Root note, C.
    2. Select the third interval, which is E. Then, subtract a half step to obtain the minor 3rd, Eb.
    3. Select the 5th interval, which is G then lower it by half step to get the diminished 5th, Gb.
    4. Pick the 7th interval B, then lower it by a half step to get the minor 7th, Bb.

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


    by Combining Intervals:

    One method to create a Cm7b5 chord is by combining specific intervals – a minor 3rd, another minor 3rd, and a major 3rd.

    m3 + m3 + 3 = m7b5 Chords

    For example, to build a Cm7b5 chord:

    • we start with the root note C.
    • We then add a minor 3rd interval, which is three half-steps up from the root, to get Eb.
    • Next, we add another minor 3rd interval, which is three half-steps up from Eb, to get Gb.
    • Finally, we add a major 3rd interval, which is four half-steps up from Gb, to get Bb.

    Together, these intervals form the Cm7b5 chord.


    How to Use Cm7b5 in a Chord Progression


    The Cm7b5 chord is frequently used in ii-V-I progressions, where it functions as the ii chord. However, due to its versatile nature, it can also be used in various other musical contexts, such as:

    • on natural minor and Major keys
    • as a substitute for dominant 7th chords
    • as a substitute for minor chords

    Most common uses of Cm7b5

    The Cm7b5 chord appears on the second scale degree (II) in the Bb natural minor scale and on the seventh scale degree (VII) in the Db major scale.


    Minor Scales i ii III iv v VI VII
    Bb Bb min7 Cm7b5 Db Maj7 Eb min7 F min7 Gb Maj7 Ab7
    • Supertonic chord in Bb minor


    Major Scales I ii iii IV V vi vii
    Db Db Maj7 Eb min7 F min7 Gb Maj7 Ab7 Bb min7 Cm7b5
    • Leading tone chord in Db Major


    Cm7b5 as a Substitute for Dominant 7th Chords

    Minor 7th flat 5th chords can replace dominant 7th chords when they share some of the same notes. A general rule of thumb when it comes to chord substitutions is that if the substitute chord contains at least the 3rd and 7th notes of the original chord, it’s often a viable option for substitution.

    D7 ⇔ Cm7b5

    Ab7 ⇔ Cm7b5

    In this case, the Cm7b5 chord (C, Eb, Gb, Bb) can serve as a substitute for D7 (D, F#, A, C) and Ab7 (Ab, C, Eb, Gb) due to their shared notes. Specifically, Cm7b5 shares the 7th and 3rd notes of D7 (which are C and F#, respectively), as well as the 3rd and 7th notes of Ab7 (which are C and Gb).

    Rootless dominant 9th Chord Substitution

    It’s worth noting that the substitution of Ab7 with Cm7b5 can also be viewed as a rootless dominant 9th chord substitution. This is because Cm7b5 contains the same essential notes as the Ab9 chord except the root note.

    Ab9 = Ab (C, Eb, Gb, Bb)

    Cm7b5 = C, Eb, Gb, Bb


    Cm7b5 as a Substitute for minor Chords

    To replace a minor chord with an m7b5, build the m7b5 by taking the note three semitones lower than the original minor chord. So, in the case of an Eb minor chord, the m7b5 chord would be built three half-steps lower than the root note Eb.

    On the ii Degree

    ii V I
    Eb min7 Ab7 Db Maj7
    Cm7b5 Ab7 Db Maj7

    You can apply this substitution to a ii V I progression that has an Eb minor chord on the ii degree by replacing it with a Cm7b5 chord.

    On the IV Degree

    I IV iv I
    I IV iv I
    Bb Maj7 Eb Maj7 Eb min7 Bb Maj7
    Bb Maj7 Eb Maj7 Cm7b5 Bb Maj7


    Cm7b5 Chord Function in Major and Minor Keys

    Understanding Scale Degrees

    When we form chords from a scale, each note in the scale is given a specific degree that reflects its position within the scale. The degree of a note in a scale determines its function and the role it plays in the overall harmony of the music.

    • Starting with the first degree of the scale, we have the Tonic chord. This chord serves as the foundation of the scale, providing a stable tonal center for the music. It’s like the “home base” of the music, and all melodies and harmonies are anchored to this chord.
    • Moving on to the second degree, we have the Supertonic. This degree acts as a transitional note between the tonic and other notes in the scale, creating a sense of movement and flow in the melody or harmony.
    • The third degree is the Mediant, which is located halfway between the tonic and dominant notes. This degree helps to establish whether the scale is major or minor and plays a critical role in determining the mood and emotional impact of the music.
    • The fourth degree is the Subdominant, which complements the dominant and adds tension and resolution to the music. It creates a push-pull effect that keeps the listener engaged and interested.
    • The fifth degree is the Dominant, which generates tension and a sense of expectation. It often acts as the climax of a musical phrase or section and is resolved by returning to the tonic.
    • The sixth degree is the Submediant, which provides a sense of stability and restfulness to the music. It’s often used as a transition between the dominant and tonic, creating a feeling of calm and relaxation.
    • Finally, we have the seventh degree, the Leading tone. This degree produces a strong sense of tension and a desire to resolve to the tonic. It’s often used to create a sense of resolution and completion in the melody or harmony.


    Cm7b5 as Supertonic Chord in Bb Minor

    In Bb minor, the C half-diminished chord functions as the supertonic on the second scale degree. It commonly serves as a passing chord to create movement within a progression.

    i ii III iv v VI VII
    Bb min7 Cm7b5 Db Maj7 Eb min7 F min7 Gb Maj7 Ab7


    Cm7b5 Chord Progressions as ii degree

    Here are some examples of chord progressions that feature the C half-diminished as the supertonic chord.

    It’s a common practice to substitute the minor 7th chord found on the fifth degree of the natural minor scale with a dominant chord built on the harmonic minor scale. This is why you may see an F7 chord used instead of an F min7 chord in some of these progressions.

    ii iv V7 i
    ii iv V7 i
    Cm7b5 Eb min7 F7 Bb min7


    iv ii i
    iv ii i
    Eb min7 Cm7b5 Bb min7


    VII ii i
    VII ii i
    Ab7 Cm7b5 Bb min7


    ii V7 i
    ii V7 i
    Cm7b5 F7 Bb min7


    Circle Progression
    i iv VII III VI ii V7 i
    Bb min7 Eb min7 Ab7 Db Maj7 Gb Maj7 Cm7b5 F7 Bb min7


    Cm7b5 as Leading Tone Chord in Db Major

    In Db major, the Cm7b5 chord is the leading tone chord built on the seventh degree of the scale. It creates a feeling of tension and resolution, as it strongly resolves to the tonic chord, which is the Db major chord in this case.

    I ii iii IV V vi vii
    Db Maj7 Eb min7 F min7 Gb Maj7 Ab7 Bb min7 Cm7b5


    Cm7b5 Chord Progressions as vii degree

    The following chord progressions feature the Cm7b5 chord as the leading tone:

    V vii I
    V vii I
    Ab7 Cm7b5 Db Maj7


    I IV vii iii vi ii V I
    I IV vii iii vi ii V I
    Db Maj7 Gb Maj7 Cm7b5 F min7 Bb min7 Eb min7 Ab7 Db Maj7


    Cm7b5 as Substitute for D7

    Cm7b5 shares the 7th and 3rd notes of D7 so it’s possible to use a Cm7b5 in place of a D7 on the V degree. This is a common substitution used in jazz music and can add some interesting harmonic color to a progression.

    I ii iii IV V vi vii
    G Maj7 A min7 B min7 C Maj7 D7 Cm7b5 E min7 F#m7b5


    ii V I
    ii V I
    A min7 Cm7b5 | D7 G Maj7


    I IV ii V iii vi ii V
    I IV ii V iii vi ii V
    G Maj7 C Maj7 A min7 D7 | Cm7b5 B min7 E min7 A min7 D7

    You can play the Cm7b5 chord by itself, or use it in combination with a D7 chord, either before or after the Cm7b5. This will allow you to explore the different tonal colors and tensions that each progression creates, and help you develop a stronger sense of how these chords can be used effectively in your musical compositions or improvisations.


    Cm7b5 as Substitute for Ab7

    Cm7b5 shares the 3rd and 7th notes of Ab7 (which are C and Gb). This means that it is possible to use Cm7b5 as a substitute for Ab7.

    I ii iii IV V vi vii
    Db Maj7 Eb min7 F min7 Gb Maj7 Ab7 Cm7b5 Bb min7 Cm7b5


    ii V I
    ii V I
    Eb min7 Cm7b5 | Ab7 Db Maj7


    I IV V
    I IV V
    Db Maj7 Gb Maj7 Cm7b5 | Ab7


    I V vi IV
    I V vi IV
    Db Maj7 Ab7 | Cm7b5 Bb min7 Gb Maj7

    Using the Cm7b5 chord by itself or in combination with an Ab7 chord can create different tonal colors and tensions. Experimenting with these progressions can help develop a stronger understanding of how to use these chords effectively in your musical compositions or improvisations.


    Alternative Cm7b5 Nomenclature

    • C∅
    • Doø
    • Cm7b5
    • Cm7°5
    • Cm7b5
    • Cm7/b5
    • Cm7(-5)
    • Cm7(b5)
    • C 1/2dim
    • C 1/2dim7
    • Cm7 Flat 5
    • C minor 7th b5
    • C half-diminished
    • C minor seventh flat fifth



    The chord progressions and examples presented in this post provide a comprehensive overview of the most common uses of the Cm7b5 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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